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Marvin Harrison – Fraud Alert

Marvin Harrison - Fraud Alert

Marvin Harrison – Fraud Alert

So I was on watching old games on Game Pass the other night (don’t judge, it is actually awesome), and I came across the NFL 100 All-Time Team. I didn’t even notice when they released it since there were actual sports going on but now that there is nothing happening, I did the dumbest thing I could have done which is look at the roster. I can’t unsee what I saw and I have been thinking about one name ever since. The greatest fraud in the history of the “NFL All-Time Great frauds” game, Marvin Harrison.

Sure he’s number five on the all-time receptions list with 1,102 catches but that is nothing more than an example of what Peyton Manning can do for an average wide receiver given the opportunity. Keep in mind that Reggie Wayne caught 1,070 balls in his career too. The point is, if you play long enough with Peyton Manning, your regular season stats are going to look great. Like all-time great even if you are only an average receiver. Remember Brandon Stokley caught 10 touchdowns in one season before.

Here’s the thing, Peyton could only take an average receiver so far. The counting stats in the NFL regular season are fun but a wide receiver is only as good as his playoff numbers. Period. In the playoffs, it’s not often you can be lined up against some bum that even the average guys roast like Marvin did most of his career. In the playoffs, it’s highly likely that a wide receiver will be lined up against a top corner. That’s where we find out how good a guy really is. So how did Marvin do in the playoffs? Check it out.

I gave Marvin a pass in 1996 since he was a rookie but if we are being honest, he was targeted ten times and only put up a 3-71-0 line in a game where his team was getting slaughtered. It was a perfect opportunity for a wide receiver to put up some “fake” stats. He didn’t. He was not good enough.

He would not get another opportunity to prove that he was not a complete fraud until the 1999 season. The Colts now had Peyton Manning and they appeared to be headed to greatness with their “Big 3”, Manning, Harrison and running back, Edgerrin James. The only problem was, Marvin Harrison got bodied all day by Samari Rolle. It’s not that he didn’t have the chance, Harrison was targeted 18 times that day but only caught five passes. Imagine the gaudy numbers Terrell Owens or Calvin Johnson would have put up if they were targeted 18 times by Peyton Manning. All time great, huh?

The next season, the Colts and their “Big 3” got their chance at redemption against the mighty Miami Dolphins who quarterbacked by smart guy, Jay Fiedler. Even though, Fiedler threw three first half interceptions, the Colts still lost the game. It’s not like Marvin Harrison didn’t have an opportunity at putting his stamp on this game too, he did. He was targeted 11 times yet only managed to catch five balls for a meager 63 yards. For the most part, he couldn’t beat Sam Madison. All time great, huh?

In the 2001 draft, the Colts had to spend a first round pick on a receiver which netted them Reggie Wayne. They returned to the playoffs the next season and got murdered by the New York Jets 41-0. Harrison threw up his normal 4-47-0 playoff stat line but I do blame Manning more for that loss. It was 35 degrees that day (wind chill 27) and Manning was awful. It was our first look at cold weather playoff Peyton but still, Marvin did nothing.

Things began to look up for Harrison in the 2003 playoffs, when he carved up the Denver Broncos’ mediocre pass defense for a 7-133-2 day. It would be the first and only time he would catch a touchdown or surpass 100 yards in a playoff game which had to feel good. The Colts got to face another mediocre pass defense the next week in the Kansas City Chiefs, and Harrison had a decent game with 6-98-0. But that game was the last time he would catch more than 5 balls or go over 60 receiving yards in any playoff game. All time great, huh?

The best playoffs of his career ended poorly when the Colts had to finally play an elite defense in the New England Patriots. Harrison put up his typical shoddy line, this time going for 3-19 on seven targets. It was the first of three playoff games he played in the famous Colts-Patriots rivalry which ended with his team only winning one of those games.  He never caught more than five balls, never had more than 44 yards receiving and never scored a touchdown in any playoff game against the Patriots. All time great, huh?

Marvin Harrison’s final playoff tally looks like this: 16 games, 133 targets, 65 receptions, 883 yards, 2 touchdowns. That’s basically a 4-55 day on eight targets when it matters most from one of the greatest receivers in NFL history. How is that even possible? I know, he was an average receiver at best. Imagine if the Colts took Terrell Owens instead of Marvin Harrison. Does he rank top 5 in the history of the NFL without Peyton Manning as his quarterback?

Just for fun, what has to make this sting even worse for Colts fans is the fact that Indianapolis could have drafted Ray Lewis at 19 and Terrell Owens at 51 in the 1996 NFL Draft. You could argue that by taking Harrison at 19, it actually cost the Colts multiple Super Bowls, not only because of performance but also opportunity cost. In my eyes, he is literally the reason why the Colts only won one Super Bowl with Peyton Manning. Yet we see his name over Calvin Johnson or Terrell Owens on the NFL 100 All-Time Team. Well done Marvin, that is some all time deception.

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Marvin Harrison – Fraud Alert

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