SAN FRANCISCO (Feb. 6, 2016) – Marvin Harrison’s cell phone sprang to life Saturday evening, and remained active.
First, the most prolific receiver in Indianapolis Colts history answered a call from David Baker, the president and executive director of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The message: Harrison was among the five modern-day inductees for the Class of 2016.
Next, Harrison dialed up the man who added him to the Colts roster as a first-round draft pick in 1996 and was so instrumental in a 13-year journey that delivered Harrison to Canton, Ohio.
That would be Colts owner Jim Irsay.
“I told Jim he was my first phone call,’’ Harrison said Saturday in a phone conversation with CBS4. “He was like, ‘You’re kidding me.’ I said, ‘Jim, I’m telling you first because of everything you’ve done for me, my family and the city of Indianapolis.’
“I told him everything he did for me meant a lot to me. To be a part of the horseshoe and to be going into the Hall of Fame under the Indianapolis Colts just means a ton to me. That’s what I wanted to share with him.’’
“I know Jim is in an unbelievable state right now.’’
Joining Harrison as modern-day inductees are former Colts’ coach Tony Dungy, quarterback Brett Favre, linebacker/defensive end Kevin Greene and offensive tackle Orlando Pace. The Hall of Fame’s 46-member Board of Selectors – we are a member – also selected senior candidates quarterback Ken Stabler and guard Dick Stanfel and contributor Edward DeBartolo Jr.
Harrison was in his third year of eligibility and advanced to the Final 15 for a third time. Finally, he breached the summit.
“It’s definitely an honor. It’s definitely a privilege. It doesn’t just happen,’’ Harrison said. “You don’t take it for granted. You don’t just wake up one day and say, ‘I’m a Hall of Famer.’
“You don’t start off your career and say you’re going to go to the Hall of Fame. You take it step by step and all of the pieces of the puzzle fell into place for me to where I was able to show my talent.’’
In 13 seasons, Harrison established himself as the most prolific receiver in Colts history and one of the most productive in NFL history. He ranks No. 3 in league history with 1,102 receptions, No. 7 with 14,580 yards and No. 5 with 128 touchdowns. The 143 passes he caught in 2002 remain an NFL single-season record.
He was an eight-time Pro Bowl selection and a first-team selection on the All-Decade Team of the 2000s.
Reaching Canton, Ohio, Harrison said, “is a total accomplishment for everything I’ve done from when I was a kid until now. There is no better individual award than this.
“My ultimate goal, which I told Jimmy in 1996, was I wanted to help bring a championship to Indianapolis. I did that (in 2006) and I was with the same team for 13 years. I did everything I had to do for the team.
“At the end of the road, I was awarded with being a member of the Hall of Fame. But it didn’t happen overnight. I’m just happy more for everyone else than I am for myself.’’
He quickly shared the honor with his mom, grandmother and sons Marvin Jr. and Jett. Finally, he said with a quiet laugh, so many of those around him no longer will be wrong when they address him.
“Over the last two years, you can’t imagine the amount of people who have called me to be a part of Canton. Everywhere I’d go and everything I’d do, it’s been ‘What’s up, Hall of Famer? Hey, Marvin, what’s up Hall of Famer?’
“I think I’m more happy for all those people who saw this day coming. Now they can have a little bit of relief within themselves to say he’s where he belongs. Everyone was excited for me.’’
While Harrison never was consumed by perhaps being selected to the Hall of Fame during his career, former team executive Bill Polian planted the notion in Harrison’s mind. Polian was a member of the Hall of Fame’s Class of 2015.
When Polian would pass Harrison in the hallway at the Colts complex during the early 2000s, he never referred to Harrison by name.
It was always, “How ya doing, Hall of Famer?’’
“He’d tell me that and I’d say, ‘What are you talking about?’’’ Harrison said. “I told him last week when I talked with him. He saw things 10 years prior.’’
Polian saw Marvin Harrison in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.