By: Ian Logue/
December 22, 2003

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FOXBORO, MA -- Rodney Harrison has made Patriots head coach Bill Belichick look like a genius.

After releasing Lawyer Milloy just days before the team opened the season against Buffalo, Belichick faced a huge backlash from both fans and media after Milloy then signed with Buffalo and New England was handed a 31-0 defeat.

However Harrison has filled in just fine in Milloy's absence, and has played some of the best football of his career. Now that game seems like a distant memory after the team has gone 11-1 since then and is preparing for for a rematch on Saturday against the Bills and a chance to clinch home field throughout the playoffs.

Harrison's hard-hitting mentality has been one of the main reasons why New England's defense has been so effective this year, and he's arguably playing as good as anyone in the NFL at his position. However for now he's just an alternate for the Pro Bowl, and according to the Boston Herald he definitely feels slighted.

"I know I'm no alternate to Ed Reed, Brock Marion or Jerome Woods - I'll tell you that," Harrison told the Boston Herald, naming the three players picked ahead of him. "That's the one thing I'm sure of."

Harrison is currently ranked 14th in the NFL in combined tackles with 116. Marion and Reed are left far behind in that category, with Marion ranked 50th (76) and Reed ranked 59th (70). Harrison also told the newspaper that his reputation for physical, intimidating play (he's reportedly been fined roughly $300,000 over his career) probably worked against him in the Pro Bowl balloting.

"That's definitely it," Harrison said. "The offensive players vote for defense, so you figure it out. Whenever I play, coaches and players from the other team always come up to me on the field and tell how much they respect my game, how much they had the wrong opinion of me. And then this happens?"

"I mean, what else do I have to do? The same thing happens every time. One year in San Diego (in 2000) I had six picks, six sacks and (126) tackles and I didn't go. It's a joke."

Should his team go to the Superbowl, those players who were picked before him will get the chance to spend that Sunday watching Harrison play. Then both he and the rest of the players who also may have deserved an opportunity to be selected will get the satisfaction they deserve.

"I'll get my payback," said Harrison. "We'll all get our payback when it really counts."