It's not uncommon to hear a former NFL defensive back praise former Colts wide receiver Marvin Harrison. For example, longtime DB Charles Tillman called Harrison the best he ever faced. Another longtime DB, Champ Bailey, also said that Harrison was the toughest to cover. They aren't alone in those feelings, either, and we can add another very notable name to the list.
Raiders defensive back Charles Woodson, who will be playing the final game of a Hall of Fame career on Sunday, wrote on ESPN that Marvin Harrison was the best wide receiver he ever faced.
Marvin Harrison was the best receiver I played against, especially being a young player and just learning the game at this level. He was already at a high level, and the job was made even more difficult because it seemed like every time we played the Colts it was in Indianapolis, where they played on turf -- that old AstroTurf. I hated playing on that. The Colts were fast on it, and Marvin had everything: He was bigger than you would think from watching him on film, and he was fast and quick and ran great routes. They were going to line him on the defense's left side every time, but he was tough to deal with even when you knew where he was going to be. I never was one of those guys who was going to lose sleep thinking about a matchup, but I did understand that it was going to be one of those days when I was playing him. Really, he was the only guy that I thought of like that.
Keep in mind, this isn't just any random player saying this. Woodson is an 18-year veteran who is a nine-time Pro Bowler, a four time first-team All-Pro, a Defensive Player of the Year (2009), a member of the NFL All-Decade Team of the 2000s, a Super Bowl winner, and has racked up 65 interceptions (tied for the fifth-most of all-time), 139 passes defensed, 996 tackles, 28 forced fumbles, and 20 sacks in 253 career games - and, to cap it all off, he won the Heisman Trophy in college. In other words, we're talking about one of the best defensive backs to play the game and a guy who will wind up in Canton one day, saying that Marvin Harrison was the best he ever faced. That's high praise.
Harrison, likewise, put up a very impressive statistical resume. He caught 1,102 passes for 14,580 yards and 128 touchdowns during his career, making eight Pro Bowls and being a three-time first-team All-Pro (and also being a member of the NFL All-Decade Team of the 2000s). During the middle of his career, Harrison had a stretch of eight straight seasons in which he topped 1,000 yards receiving and put up double-digit touchdown numbers. That's an insane streak. Harrison was an incredible player, and his opponents - such as Charles Woodson - noticed it. Hopefully the Hall of Fame voters finally realize the same this year.