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The Vastly Overrated Marvin Harrison

March 28, 2009 - Chris Masse

Wow, I'm stunned former Colts wide receiver Marvin Harrison is out of work. I mean, he's such a complete receiver....Okay, I'm back. I was laughing for about 10 minutes after typing that last sentence but I'm fully composed again. Sorry about that.

But seriously, can people stop touting this guy as one of the all-time greats? Fine, he's got some great stats, but there are gaping holes in this alleged great receiver's game.

Let's start first and foremost with Harrison's disappearing act when the games matter the most. The greater the pressure the worst this guy plays. Need proof? Try this on for size...In 16 playoff games, the equivalent of one whole NFL season, Harrison has caught 65 passes for 883 yards and two touchdowns. I repeat...TWO TOUCHDOWNS! That's embarrassing. His per game average is four catches for 55 yards. And we're supposed to buy that this guy is one of the all-time greats? Greatness is defined by what you do in the big games and this guy is a total zero in that department.

Harrison's two postseason touchdowns came in the same game...that game is also the only time in 16 playoff games he topped 100 yards and one of those touchdowns came because Broncos defensive backs thought he was down and didn't touch him, allowing him to scamper untouched into the end zone.

So pathetic is Harrison in the playoffs that he has only topped five receptions twice.  And not only has he topped 100 yards just once, but he's also topped 70 yards just twice. This guy shrinks when the pressure is on and that's not what great ones do. Contrast that with Jerry Rice, the greatest receiver of all-time. Rice twice scored three playoff the same game...including twice in the super bowl. Rice also has topped 100 yards eight times in the playoffs while scoring 22 touchdowns, including eight in the super bowl. So in four super bowls Rice has quadrupled Harrison's postseason scoring output

Repeat after me...don't ever mention Marvin Harrison in the same sentence as Jerry Rice.

Here's more proof. While a true legend like Rice could do it all--catch, break tackles, go over the middle and block and excel under pressure--Harrison is just a short receiver who can't break tackles, is afraid to go over the middle, gets mauled by physical defensive backs and buckles under pressure. A true great receiver can block. The only thing Harrison can block are footballs that bounce off his hands in the playoffs. And have you ever seen Harrison break a tackle? I haven't. Honestly, I haven't. Look at footage of Rice...and other truly great receivers of this era and they could absorb contact, break away from it and make big plays. Harrison can't do it because he's as soft as Charmin. That's one reason he never goes over the middle to make the tough catches that truly great receivers like Rice in the past, and Wes Welker, Terrell Owens (say what you want the guy is a complete receiver), Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce do now.

How soft is Marvin? Think back to the 2003 AFC championship when the Colts were mauled by the Patriots. Ty Law intimidated Harrison into a shell and he caught just 3 balls for 19 yards. The rules were changed for soft receivers like Marvin the following year and no longer could corners be as physical. The result...the following season Harrison had a whopping 44 yards against the Patriots in the playofs...and that was a decimated secondary that was forced to use receiver Troy Brown as a d-back. Harrison's softness is well-known throughout the NFL. Look at highlights of the 2003 super bowl between the Patriots and Panthers for proof. After Muhsin Muhammad scored on an 85-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter he told Steve Smith, "They (Patriot d-backs) are physical with those little guys like Marvin Harrison, but they don't want any of this."

See, even Harrison's peers know he is a fraud.

I keep hearing instant historians on ESPN and other media outlets talking about Harrison being a sure-fire Hall of Famer? Uh, what? Cris Carter is one of the best receivers ever and hasn't made it after two ballots. If Carter is not a Hall of Famer then no way is Harrison. Carter was a receiver who could do everything, whereas Harrison is great at catching dink and dunk passes. And while the regular-season stats both have are very similar there is no comparison when it comes to big games. Carter scored four times as many touchdowns and has more playoff yards and just one less catch than three less games. Carter also topped five catches six times, topped 100 yards twice and topped 75 yards seven times. So if Carter doesn't get in on the first two ballots neither does Harrison.

Another way to look at greatness is this way. If you have a game that your life depends on what receiver do you want as your primary threat. Based on his sorry postseason career, Harrison is just about near the bottom of that list.

And there's nothing great about that.

Ladies and gentleman, the most overrated wide receiver of all time...Marvin Harrison.



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