Colts GM Chris Ballard has regularly stated that his philosophy is that you build teams through the draft. That makes this time of year critical to the Colts’ long term success. So in the lead up to this year’s draft, I wanted to do something to honor some of the meaningful draft picks that the Colts have made in their time in Indianapolis. These players have helped to tell the story of the Colts franchise we love. Every day leading up to the draft, we’ll drop a story about a different player from Indianapolis Colts draft history.
Today, that player is the legendary Colts wide receiver, Marvin Harrison. Few players have had the impact on the Indianapolis Colts franchise that Harrison did. Drafted 19th overall in the 1996 NFL Draft, Harrison was the 4th receiver taken, and would go on to outshine every one of those players taken ahead of him, making himself one of the best of all time.
During his time with Indianapolis, Harrison was selected to the Pro Bowl eight times, was an eight time All-Pro, and was the receiving yards leader for the league in two different seasons. From 1999 until 2006, Harrison never had fewer than 1,100 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns. He finished his career with 14,580 yards receiving which placed him 9th all time. He also played two fewer seasons than anyone else ahead of him, making that total even more impressive.
In an era of divas and outspoken players at the wide receiver position, Marvin Harrison was a very different kind of player. In spite of his greatness, he showed up on game day and went to work. When he made a big play, he didn’t thump his chest or celebrate, he carried the ball to the official and got back to the huddle.
While many offenses use motion and moving players around the field to create match-up advantages, that was never necessary for Harrison. Simply lining him up on the right side of the offense was a match-up advantage for the Colts. Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison had the kind of rhythm and connection that few quarterbacks and receivers share, and they had it for longer than most.
Despite his smaller stature, Harrison was an iron man in his career, missing significant time due to injury just once, in his 2007 season at age 35. Harrison had an uncanny ability to avoid big hits, and his hands were excellent. During the height of his career, he and Manning seemed virtually unstoppable. With him out wide, you could believe that any game was within the Colts’ grasp.
Harrison was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2016 alongside coach Tony Dungy. With the team picking 13th in the first round in the 2020 NFL Draft, Colts fans should take heart, knowing that they picked one of the franchises’ most impactful players 6 picks later than that back in 1996.
What is your favorite memory of Harrison?