Harrison breaks NFL reception record, may haul in others

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

INDIANAPOLIS -- Marvin Harrison makes it all look so easy: catching passes, breaking records, staying humble.

The Indianapolis Colts' wide receiver doesn't need choreographed celebrations or outrageous statements to draw attention. And he's embarrassed when teammates suggest he's been the NFL's top player this year.

"I don't get into a lot of rah-rah speeches or any of that," said Harrison, who broke Herman Moore's single-season NFL record of 123 catches. "I just go out and play. I know what I've got to do. I play hard."

Few could argue. He's been as durable and productive as anyone in the league, even at a small-by-NFL-standards 6 feet and 175 pounds.

Harrison hasn't missed a game since 1998, rarely misses a practice and has spent the last four years establishing himself as one of the NFL's most dangerous receivers.

Still, this has been the best season of his seven-year career and one of the best for a wideout in league history.

A glance at his accomplishments for the AFC South-leading Colts (9-5):

-- With two games still left, Harrison already has 127 catches, putting him on pace for 145.

-- His 1,566 yards receiving puts him within 226 of the NFL's second-highest single-season total, and he even has an outside chance to challenge Jerry Rice's record of 1,848, set in 1995.

-- His nine 100-yard games rank third for a season, matching his career high and giving him an opportunity to tie Michael Irvin's record (11 in 1995).

-- Harrison became the first player in league history with four straight 100-reception seasons, the first with back-to-back 1,500-yard seasons and probably will make his fourth straight Pro Bowl.

-- He broke the Colts' career records for catches (649) and touchdowns (72), marks held by Hall of Famer Raymond Berry.

Even with all those big numbers, however, Harrison's reticent personality has made him a somewhat unheralded star.

Colts coach Tony Dungy has no doubt that Harrison deserves to be honored as NFL MVP.

"But I don't think that's going to happen, because Marvin doesn't have that type of persona," Dungy said. "He doesn't want that type of persona."

Some of the other Colts are doing what they can to promote Harrison.

In the locker room after Sunday's 28-23 victory at Cleveland, fellow receiver Qadry Ismail interrupted an interview with Harrison by shouting "M-V-P! M-V-P!"

With two-time NFL rushing champ Edgerrin James battling hamstring and ankle injuries after returning from a torn knee ligament, Harrison also has been the focus of every defense the Colts have played.

Yet opponents haven't slowed him down.

He's had at least six catches in 13 consecutive games and caught at least nine passes nine times this year.

Dungy often compares Harrison to the Hall of Fame receivers he played with in Pittsburgh, Lynn Swann and John Stallworth.

"What I've seen with guys who catch 100 or 120 balls, like Cris Carter or Keyshawn Johnson, is that it takes a toll on you," Dungy said. "They couldn't practice again till Wednesday or Thursday. Marvin's not like that. He'll practice full speed Monday."

Harrison can't explain it. He only worries about a few dropped passes and the missed opportunities, and he doesn't care how others depict his skills.

He just wants to keep catching passes.

"What I told myself was 'stay hungry, never get satisfied,"' he said. "I think that's why I do some of the things I do."

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