Rodney Harrison via OMF explains how he nearly joined Raiders instead of Patriots

By Mateo Aycardi

Former Patriots safety Rodney Harrison joined Ordway, Merloni & Fauria on Tuesday to discuss his time playing in New England. The two-time Super Bowl champion was recently named to the Patriots Hall of Fame after a stellar few years with the team.

It was discovered instead of joining the Patriots, Harrison almost signed with the Raiders back in 2003. According to Harrison, though, it wasn’t meant to be for one simple reason.

“Yeah, because they were cheap,” Harrison laughed. “I mean I can’t play for free. I live out in California and I got people I gotta take care of. It was all of $250,000 [per year] or something like that. I mean, it was a number but it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t what I was worth. And I really think that Coach Belichick came in and really valued me as a player and as a person. And he showed me a lot of respect. And that’s what I wanted.

“Money is cool, but I wanted the respect and the knowledge. I wanted to be able to go from losing to winning, and it happened. When I came here I actually learned how to play football on a different level.”

Patriots fans certainly won’t be complaining that owner Robert Kraft forked over a six-year, $15 million deal to Harrison. He was the backbone of the Patriots’ defense for a large part of his tenure, and he openly expressed his gratitude for what the Patriots gave him.

“I was sitting there [in 2003] and I was thinking, 'OK, do I look at Denver and how much money they’re paying me?’ But something in my spirit just made me sign with the Patriots. I just knew after talking to Coach Belichick and Scott Pioli, I mean I just knew that this was the place for me.”

“When I came here, they gave me a clean slate," he added. "They said ‘Rodney, just go play football.’ That’s what Coach Belichick said. ‘Go play football. Be a leader. Be who you are.’ And that’s why I love him to this day. ... He allowed me to be me.”