Rangy DB Roamed the
Like Few Others
One of the Pirates' Greatest All-Time
Defensive Backs Reflects on his Life
Clint Harris (1st Pirate from left) defends against Duke.
(Photo: ECU SID)
If Clint Harris could go
back and change anything in his athletic career, it wouldn’t be his
all-too-short stint in the National Football League. It wouldn’t be his
choice of colleges or his dual commitment to both football and track.
No, if he could change
anything, it would likely be to somehow re-write the end of East
Carolina's storied 1983 campaign. He wishes that season's well-deserving
top-20 team that went 8-3 in the face of one of the nation’s most brutal
schedules had received the bowl bid it deserved.
“The one thing that really
bothered me… I mean, it really was bad was that you never really got a
chance to say good-bye,” the dominating former free safety from
Chesapeake, VA, said. “We were all thinking that we were going to play
another game, no doubt in our minds, so the last game we never even
thought it would be the end. I really wish we had had a chance to say
goodbye… it was bad for all of us.”
Instead, after all of the
bowl pundits had concluded that an East Carolina win on the road at
Southern Miss would assuredly land the Pirates in the Independence Bowl,
the victory was followed by the spirit-shattering news that the bowls
would collectively shut out the Pirates
while passing along invites to mediocre teams like the 6-5 UNC-Chapel
just down the road.
It was an abrupt and painful
departure for one of the most athletically gifted players to ever come
through the gates at Ficklen Stadium.
Still, Harris cherished the
entirety of his career as a Pirate and to this day follows his alma
mater on the gridiron.
“ECU helped me be tenacious
and develop my drive,” he said. “Coming from a school that wasn’t as
well known, it makes you work that much harder. I think everyone grows
up and then something happens and maybe you possess an ability to do
something at a high level and because of it, you then become known (in
the public eye).
“You never know what is
going to happen and then it happens to you and you stand out. I think
how I am now and when I go to some of the companies who I work with, I
go in as an unknown, and after 6 to 8 months I’m at the top of the food
chain. I learned how to do that at ECU. I learned how to believe in
myself first. I really appreciate that from ECU and going back now and
seeing how they have expanded and how the stadium looks, I feel great
knowing maybe I had something to do with it. I don’t get down there that
much but I go online every week to see how they are doing and I’m like,
‘Man, I have to get down there and show those kids how to do this or
most of his athletic career, Harris certainly showed how to do “this”
boy growing up in Chesapeake, it was just he and his sister, but the
extended family was much bigger, counting a host of aunts and uncles and
“many, many, many cousins.”
young Harris didn’t need to look very far to find inspiration in the
football world as his cousin, Charlie Stoops, played for the Baltimore
Colts on the 1971 Super Bowl Championship team. While his aspirations
were developed early through his cousin, his ability to play the game
himself was honed in many a backyard ballgame.
playing in the neighborhood,” he recollected of his beginnings in the
sport. “I was always the shortest guy, but the quickest and strongest. I
played with mostly guys who were bigger than me, obviously, and that
made me tougher and mean enough to play football. But, I didn’t start
playing organized football until the 8th grade and then I
didn’t play again until really, a little bit my sophomore year. It was
my junior year when I really started playing organized football. I did a
lot weight lifting in the mean time and I ran track as a junior as
love for football drove his track career as well.
always wanted to stay in shape for football cause I really liked
football, so I ran track to do that,” he explained. “I was really good
friends with the track coach at the time in high school and he needed
some sprinters and I was kind of fast, but I would say I wasn’t extremely
fast at that time. But track kept me in shape. And then as a senior, I
got really fast. I still hold the record at Great Bridge High School in
the 100 meters and went on to become (prep) All-America in track. I had,
I think, the fourth fastest time in the nation as a senior.
football was always my first dedication, track was just to keep me in
shape for football. I played the game since I was a toddler and I
remember that I got my first football uniform when I was eight and from
then, it was just football, football, football. I just got into track to
stay in shape. I knew I was fast, but I never knew I would turn out to
be as fast as I turned out to be.”
moving to D.C. for a year, the family returned to Chesapeake and it was
that year, his junior year, that Harris began to emerge as a bonafide
star at Great Bridge High School.
junior year — we always had a weight lifting program at my high school
and we went around to all the schools competing in weightlifting — but I
was all of 165 pounds at the time,” he said. But I could lift 265
pounds over my head as a 16-year-old. That is what got me involved and
got the coaches starting to looking at me and saying, ‘This guy is kind
of strong. Lets see what he can do.’
junior year I played and had a decent season. I was like all-city at
defensive back. I ran track to stay in shape as a junior and won the
city meet. After that, going into my senior year, football was real good
and was promising going into it. However, I was playing basketball
during the off-season to stay in shape as well and messed up my ankle
real bad. Our team would go away to Chowan College for preseason and I
wasn’t able to practice at all.”
the injury, Harris persevered.
didn’t even start the first game,” he said. “I didn’t play any offense,
just played a little defense, but I had two weeks rest on my ankle. That
first game (back) against Minor High School, I had two interceptions,
which was like my coming out. And the headlines in the papers said like,
‘Star repays two weeks off.’
that, it kind of took off. We had a pretty good team and only lost one
game that year. It took me into track, but I still had football legs
going in. It took some time for me to get my track legs back and I went
on to win all my races and (be named) all-America.”
exploits on the field and on the track opened a lot of doors of
opportunity when colleges started coming around and he had his heart set
on competing in both sports — a decisive advantage in ECU’s favor.
both football and track schools calling and I was definitely going to go
to a place where I could pretty much do both,” Harris said. “I think I
was one of the top 100 recruits in the nation and I visited a bunch of
schools and had a suitcase full of letters from colleges. It was a fun,
fun time for a 17-year-old, you know… having that many people come at you
and give you that much attention.
to a place that was far enough from home, but close enough for people to
come watch me play if they wanted to. I felt comfortable so I basically
visited North Carolina schools, Temple, Iowa State, Brigham Young,
because some people I knew had gone to those schools. ECU was, I think,
my last visit, and it just stuck in my mind with Coach (Ed) Emory and
Nancy (Emory). They were really, really fun and seemed really happy
about me coming down. I knew I could come down and do both sports and
Coach Bill Carson knew about me already. I was able to do that and go
down there and get an opportunity.”
Clint Harris & Friends (Photo: Charles "Choo"
anyone around Emory knew, it was then-wife Nancy who closed many, if not
most, of the recruiting deals for the coach.
With Harris, it was no
yeah, Nancy was bright and always had a smile,” he said. “Always opened
her arms to you to make you feel warm and welcome. You didn’t feel like
you were away from home in a strange land. I think a 17-year-old kid
coming out of high school wanted that motherly kind of person who you
could talk to, made you feel welcome, fed you if you were hungry. We
would go over to the house and play games like every kid wants to. She
probably brought more people in there than Ed did there. You just
couldn’t say no to Nancy.”
Nancy was a big influence, the school itself was a powerful attraction.
always heard that ECU was just a teachers’ college,” Harris said. “But
when you got down there you saw that they did have an enthusiastic crowd
and a lot of people there and that they were kind of looked at like the
stepchild of all the ACC schools in Carolina. I had been to UNC about
seven times and the more I visited there, I hated it. You know, just… ohhh,
ookey, and like they just thought they were better than everybody else.
So I thought, ‘I really don’t want to get involved in something like
would rather go somewhere that I could put my name … a stamp on it.
Knowing that we had to play (UNC) a couple times… we didn’t beat them in
my tenure there, but every game I played them, I had great games.
... East Carolina up to the 1983 season, you’re kind of like,
‘Well, they were a good, par team but not ready for the 1-A league.’ But
then after the ‘83 year, when we were ranked, that kind of put us on the
map for the all the teams that have been at ECU since.”
decision was greeted with excitement from the home front.
always my decision,” he said. “People wanted me to go where I was
comfortable. That was why it was easy. I wasn’t pressured into going to
any particular school. I did have someone who wanted me to go to BYU and
that is why I took a visit out there. But no one really said, ‘I want
you to go here or you have to go there.’ I was very open to all the
schools but I just went where I felt most comfortable. It was definitely
my decision to go there since I was the one who was going to have to be
there, live and be accepted or not. Go to classes and the other stuff.
“Everyone in my family loved sports. My uncles primarily play
basketball. I was always the roughest and toughest grandson/nephew that
everybody wanted to come see play. So, when I started getting all the
letters, they were excited as I was. No one had gotten that many letters
so they were all enthusiastic and very supportive of whatever it was I
was doing. Also my coaches in high school were just thrilled because it
had been a few years since they had somebody getting as much publicity
that I was at that time. I think we probably had two other guys after me
to get that kind of publicity as well, but up to that point, you couldn’t
really tell they had a lot of players coming through until that happened.
So, I was really happy and I think they were just as happy as I was.”
closes in for a tackle against Miami. (Photo: ECU SID)
Short Track to Pirate
Harris only two games as a reserve to work his way into the starting lineup.
Once he did, he never relinquished his anchor position in the secondary.
ended up starting the third game of the season at free safety which I
thought was pretty impressive considering that ECU had a pretty good
defensive team and that was what they were known for,” he said. “So,
once I got into the lineup, it was like… you couldn’t get me out.”
new talent in the program came to quickly identify each other.
tell you, the first person I met was Earnest Byner,” he said. “Earnest
and I arrived on the same day and were the only ones there. We just hung
out and both of us were kind of excited but also nervous because you
didn’t know what to expect. Your going to a Division 1-A school now and
the guys are a little bigger and a little stronger and we all made
a pact once the other freshmen started coming in that we would stick
group was a very tight one and it began that first year.
remember all the freshmen were in this suite — 216 in Belk Dorm,” he
recalled. “All the upper classman had this thing where they would go to
each suite of the freshmen and beat them up. So we all huddled in one
room so we said, ‘When they come — we had myself, my roommate Steve
Hamilton, Ronald and Donald Reid, Jeff Pegues were there along with this
little kicker named Pierre — and we all huddled in the room and when the
upper classmen came and the door cracked open, we started punching them,
so they left us alone.
from then on, we always stuck together and we just weren’t going to be
punked off. Some of us were playing offense — Steve was on offense at
first at TE — and some were playing defense, and we were all on the scout
toughness also carried over to the field right away.
just trying to hit whoever came up near me,” Harris said. “Whoever the
star running back was. At the time it was Anthony Collins and Theodore
Sutton, and I said, ‘I’m going to knock’em down.’ And that was what was
going on since we had to go against the first team. And I did that all
during camp and it earned respect. And once you did that, you got to go
over to the main field, so to speak, and practice with the first or
Harris was heavily talented, he knew he had to learn and learn fast
to be as good as he could. In retrospect, he points to Emory and his staff for helping
him become a great player.
got on, coach Al Mason — who was my last position coach there — ... we
really butted heads because I was coming off an Honorable Mention
All-America season going into my senior year and he was a new coach
trying to change things. And I’m thinking, ‘I know what I know because I
had already done it.’ So, we butted heads there a little. But that
pretty much helped me.
first year, we had a couple of guys from the Portsmouth, VA, area and
one guy named Snake, or at least we called him Snake — he was a
quarterback named (Carlton) Nelson. He was from my area and I talked to those guys
to see how things were in college, but I think the freshmen pretty much
made our own pact and, unbeknownst to us, all of us did well and we were
all talented guys in our positions, strong-willed and worked hard. I
remember we were in the weight room when Terry Long came in and we all
thought he was just a monster. We were like, ‘Who is this big baldheaded
dude?’ It was an interesting time in my life.”
His physical gifts and the know-how that he learned from the coaches
two thirds of the recipe for Harris's success. And like many of his
contemporaries, he looked to Emory for that final ingredient.
Emory was hard-nosed, tough-nosed and definitely knew what he wanted,”
he said. “Along the same lines, though, you knew he cared about you. Not
just in football, but he cared about you. He was a lot like my
high school coach. You can do all of the coaching, but you’ve got boys
trying to grow up to be men. So, you have to have a little bit of
nurturing about you as a college coach. He was definitely tough — we had
four practices a day for a week. That was absolutely crazy. I don’t know
how you could ever fit four practices in one day. Then I started hearing
stories about winter conditioning, so I ran track. I actually didn’t do
spring ball full time until going into my senior year.”
would think that a star player wanting to run track would not set too
well with Emory.
knew I ran track too and he knew I would be in shape,” he said. “I had
proven myself already. I had come in and was the starting free safety as
a freshman, so it wasn’t like I had to win my position. There was no one
else to challenge me. He knew I knew the plays, I could run, I could
tackle. Winter conditioning was mainly to get you in shape and then
spring ball was just to show what you could learn. Coach had no
differences with that at all.”
Emory’s blessing Harris explored his track development with the
legendary Pirates coach Carson. And Harris made sure the two sports
was nice,” he said. “I ran indoor track during the winter time and I had
never run indoor track before and it was kind of different. Trying to
come from your football legs — which when you're playing football you are
not running straight all the time — was difficult. Your straddles are a
little bit different from running track. The first few meets, my times
were good but they weren’t as good as I could run until probably a third
of the way through the season.”
found success on the oval.
doing a dual role with football and mind you, I was on one scholarship
and that was for football,” he said. “I won a few meets, which was fine,
and I think we made it to nationals in the 4 x 400 relay and that got me
out of winter conditioning.”
he sounds like he didn’t take his track all that serious, it isn’t true.
In fact, Harris found a level of competition there that he could not
indulge in on the gridiron.
is all you,” he said. “You can be selfish in track because it is what
you put out that is judged. You may run on a relay team with four guys,
but for the most part you can’t blame anyone but yourself. If you have a
false start, you have a false start. If you didn’t win that race,
then you lost that race. People who run track need immediate
gratification and I’m no different there. The whole thing is over in
less than 10 seconds, or at least it should be. I really like the
immediate gratification and immediate individual attention track gave
me. I liked the travel. People saw who you were as opposed to football, where you are covered (in gear).
liked track and it put me in a better position for when I came back to
join football because I was already in shape. I never had to go through
December not in shape. I pretty much worked on getting my bulk back
because I was leaner when I ran track. That would take about six weeks
and I never lost my speed and I never lost my desire and intensity that
I had when I played football.”
before 1983 arrived, Harris and many of his mates could see the team progressing toward
that breakout season.
think as far as the team was concerned, we knew we were definitely
becoming a good team,” he said. “Everyone knew and trusted each other
and that was really big for us. We knew what the other person could do
and would do at a given time. We saw each other working in gym and on
the field at practice. We ate together, we went out together, we lived
together and we didn’t want to let each other down.
knew that Earnest could run the ball, we knew that Terry would knock you
out and we knew that Norwood Vann and (Damon) Pope could catch the ball.
We knew that (Kevin) Ingram could throw the ball. We knew that if
everyone did their jobs we would be ok. That is what happened in 1983.
We knew if we were not THE strongest, then we were one of the top two
strongest teams in the nation. We knew no one was going to break loose
for 100 yards on us, because they couldn’t break loose on us.
out well. I was really happy that I went to ECU because of the good
times and because it molded me to the man I eventually became.”
individual standpoint, Harris says 1983 was not a great year for him
was weird for me because I only had 3 or 4 interceptions and I got all
of those in the first five games, because after that, nobody threw my way
again. When I saw the highlight film from 1983, it was great. I noticed
that after I picked off four, though they called one back, against
Florida, everyone stopped throwing at me. They threw it at Kevin Walker.
Kevin was like one of my sons as we called them. The defensive backs
were probably the closest group on that team. Kevin, Amos Adams, Keith
Brown — who was killed in a motorcycle accident in 2001 — and Vernard
Wynn were just the closest friends. Definitely we were all straight.”
closeness of the team and the on-field success was a life-altering experience
for him. Harris also admits, it was one hell of a fun ride. He shared
some of his personal standout memories.
games against Carolina were both good and bad for me,” he said. “We lost
really bad one time and Kelvin Bryant had a really good run on me. In
the other game, I had 17 tackles and an interception and broke up a bunch
of passes. I got player of the week one game with them. The FSU game… all
of those games were pretty good. The first game was a blow out and they
really kicked our butts but we did score a TD on them and it was
100-yard return on them.”
fondest memories however were with his teammates on the practice field.
Like this anecdote:
shirts if you had a really good hit, and we all started seeing who could
hit the hardest,” he said. “I remember the first and only spring
football season going into my senior year. It was always competition between
the offense and defense and all of the receivers were always talking
smack to all of the defensive backs. Every year I was there I never
heard it because I was not in spring practice. So when I did come, they
were talking smack again, saying things like, “Oh the All-America is
here… we’re going to beat you the same we do your boys.
Henry Williams, Stefon Adams, Damon Pope, all of them were talking. So,
I told them one by one, ‘I’m going to knock you guys out.’ And one by
one, I knocked each one of them out. I thought that was very funny.”
there were other great memories.
the traveling we did as a team, going down to the Florida games, the big
rain game in Southern Mississippi,” he recalled. “I think being at
Ficklen Stadium and seeing all that purple and gold there, particularly
when we were doing well, was always great.”
most competitors, the mistakes and the lowlights tend to burn brightest
in their memories and with Harris, it is no different.
probably the worst thing I thought could happen (not getting the bowl
bid in 1983),” he said. “We wouldn’t have even guessed that we weren’t
going to a bowl game. We lost three games. We lost to the national
champions by five points in a game where we had them beat. Every single
game you can go back and say that we could have and maybe should have
won… I mean every single game! And then, to not get anything and watch a
6-5 Carolina team go. It just shows you how it is even now with the BCS
— the best teams don’t always get to go. That is probably why there are
more bowl games, because there were more teams that deserved to go
only consolation was that I got to go to a few all-star games — Hula
Bowl, Blue Gray — but it wasn’t the same as a bowl game. You never
really got a chance to say good-bye.”
On to the National
From the moment Harris
stepped on the gridiron at East Carolina, he appeared destined to be on
of those players who would be a lock for the NFL. He was so physically
dominant and so fast on the field, it just was a forgone conclusion he
would play on Sundays. So, when he wrapped up the 1983 season, it was to
no one’s surprise that teams came around for him. One of the teams from
the Big Apple
made the call in the 5th round, for the 115th
they were interested, but you don’t ever really know to what degree
unless you are up for the Heisman Trophy or something,” he said. “I
worked out with teams at the school as well as at the NFL Combines. The
team that drafted me was the New York Giants and I didn’t even remember
talking to them, which I thought was kind of weird. There are a lot of
politics in the NFL too. It shouldn’t be that way. You get paid to do it,
so it should be the best people who get on the field. It was nice to be
able to play in the NFL and get an opportunity. It was a dream come
Photo by Charles "Choo"
wasn’t really too psyched about the team that drafted me, though. I
think that Kansas City was more interested in me and if I had to pick a
team, I would have picked the Pittsburgh Steelers or the Oakland
Raiders. Those were my type of team and fit my style of play. Of course
in the NFL, they try to pick the best athlete and mold them into the
player they want them to be. But I couldn’t do it. I was a type of
player – big, strong, fast and I like to range and sit back 10 to 12
yards off the ball and cover from sideline to sideline.”
then-coach Bill Parcells drafted Harris, the thought was that the Giants could
convert him to strong safety. It didn’t work out.
was put in a different type of position that wasn’t conducive to my
abilities,” Harris explained. “My career didn’t go the way I wanted,
obviously. Coach Parcells was the coach and I was the first defensive
back they picked, which made me feel good. But they already had a free
safety who was drafted a year or two ahead of me. They wanted to put me
in the strong safety position, which was uncomfortable for me because I
couldn’t see the whole field. I was used to having more freedom and
being able to break on the ball.”
he had hoped to make it work, but that initial season — even before he could
overcome the discomfort with the position change — he got injured.
first year I was running back a ball against the Steelers and someone
missed a block and I got a helmet on my knee, so I had to get a scope my
first year,” he said. “So I was on IR the first year. Coming back the
second year and the knee was okay and I still had speed, but was in the
same position and it just didn’t work out with that team. As I said
before, the NFL was kind of like, if they want to blackball you, they
will blackball you. Later I found out that (blackballing) was what was
going on with me. I never really drank, never smoked, never did drugs,
never hung out with crazy people. I pretty much stayed to myself. I
always had a lot of girlfriends and one day a coach came up to me and
said, ‘Harris, I see you got that really nice car and all these girls
around you, what are you, a pimp or something?’ I’m like, ‘I have no
bills and I’m 22 years old. You gave me all this money, what else am I
going to buy?’
bought a house and a car… the two things people do,” he said. “I didn’t
enjoy my stay in New York and I was happy to get on out and from that
point on it was sour grapes. I couldn’t get on with anyone long term and
then did a thing during the strike year with the Vikings. Then in 1988,
everything was going well for me up in Denver and that’s when I tore my
Achilles tendon and that was pretty much it. I knew my lateral movement
was going to be shot. I would have been better off breaking my ankle,
but it was gone and to this day I can pop it and feel the weather, that
type of stuff. I can still run straight ahead pretty fast, but the
lateral movement was not good enough to play at that level any longer.”
represented Harris’s one real shot, unencumbered by politics, and it
almost didn’t happen.
(the strike season), I came back home to Virginia and then I got married
in 1987,” Harris said. “George Rogers and I became good friends and
worked out together and he was like, ‘Why aren’t you playing, you are
killing me out here?’ Now, this was the Heisman Trophy winner from
1980-something. He is who actually told me that he had heard I was
blackballed by the League.
think I was getting a fair shake in Denver. I have never seen where a
coach and the quarterback did not get along like that. It just blew me
away. (Dan) Reeves had a golf cart he would drive on the field, so
(John) Elway demanded a golf cart. It was just is crazy. I enjoyed the
conditioning part of going there. They had these sprints we would do.
Like 10 forties, you had to run for these guys with like 20 seconds rest
between each one and they had to add up to a certain percentage of your
fastest time. It really showed if you were in shape or not, and in Denver
you really have to pay for your oxygen up there. Everything was coming
together, I was breaking real well and I was the fastest defensive back
that they had. Then one fluke play — while I was making an interception at
that. I even had my ankle taped and it ripped through all of the tape
and I knew. It wasn’t pretty. I knew it was over.”
have had a fair shot was worth it to Harris.
thought Denver was real fair,” he said. “I remember I would go up to
Tony Dorsett’s room and just talk. At that time his girlfriend had just
died and then he got married and his wife had taken him for a whole lot
of money. He was obviously at the tail end of his career and just trying
to get on, but it was really interesting just seeing how guys were. All
those conversations stay with you even if you don’t see them very often.
I ran into a couple of guys at the NFL Kickoff last year in 2003 in
Washington and it was like you had seen them every day of your life. Now
that I am a member of the NFLPA as a retired player, you get to contact
people. These are how guys back away from the limelight and become
regular people. We discuss those things that are important, family,
things that will carry you for your life.”
Life after football
the end of football, Harris went through a number of transitions en
route to his current career, though he knew down deep he would end up in
the restaurant business.
worked in restaurants even before I retired,” he said. “After football, I
took a year off and traveled a little. After that, I got into restaurant
management. First I worked with a company down in South Carolina and
then did another in Atlanta. I also did two years of all-male calendars,
which is a funny thing. So then, I was ready to get out of my first
marriage. She was a girl I had met at ECU — a Pure Gold dancer.
Fortunately, I didn’t have any children with her.
Robin in Atlanta. She comes from an athletic family. Robin’s little
brother is the starting point guard for East Tennessee State and she was
an athlete. I’ll tell you, my wife, when somebody calls me or notices me
for my football, she’s like, ‘How do they know you, what did you ever
do?’ She doesn’t even want to know.”
father-in-law was former Chicago Bears’ star defensive back Bennie
McRae, so you can imagine the conversations they have when the subject
Harris, the second go-round with marriage was the charm and he indulges
himself in his children.
daughter is more into sports than my son right now and she is definitely
a daddy’s girl,” he said. “She runs and is very physical. She does
ballet right now. My son is mostly into computer games at this moment.
He is just 11 though. My friends are like, ‘Why don’t you have him
playing any sports?’ But I want him to do what he wants to do because I
don’t believe in pushing a kid into doing something. We have kids in the
neighborhood that play organized sports that are his age and he just
tosses them around. He is about 115 pounds and he can lift 115 pounds
and he is quick.
think that it is definitely that my family has calmed me down.
Seriously. I remember this article that ran while I was in college
entitled ECU’s Campus Studs. I have all of this stuff from
college in a book that someone put together for me. Robin was like,
‘Hey, what was this all about?’”
strong family, Harris has excelled in his second career.
been training restaurants ever since I retired,” he said. “When I was in
college even… actually, I got my first restaurant job my last year of
high school when I worked at a country club in Virginia Beach. I liked
it. I like to cook and I like to eat, honestly, so I got into it there.
Then an alumnus from East Carolina, Gene Smith, who owned Zero Subshops
in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, had another shop called
Rockefellas Raw Bar, and that is when I really got into it. I enjoyed
hanging out and meeting people and having a good time. It is never
boring. Everyone likes to talk about something.
got out of ball, it was a natural thing for me to do and it is something
that I like to do. I had the choice to do it and I could have done
something else if I wanted. I even worked in a health club for about a
minute, but I really love the restaurant business. People like to go out
to eat and I have been in the same career ever since.”
drew on lessons learned on the Pirates football field in his new career.
helped me be tenacious and develop my drive coming from a school that
wasn’t as well known as most,” he said. “I think everyone grows up and
then something happens and you possess an ability and then you are
known. You never know what is going to happen and then it happens to you
and you stand out. I think how I am now and how I go to some of the
companies who I work with and I am not known. And yet, after six to
eight months, I am at the top of the food chain. I learned that at ECU
knowing that you can start out small and then grow bigger. I really
appreciate that from ECU and going back now and seeing how they have
expanded and how the stadium looks, it makes me proud.”
Harris doesn’t get back to Greenville as much as he would like, when he
does, it always feels like it was just yesterday that he was there.
the funny thing about guys and sports. We don’t have to talk every day,
every month, even every year,” he said. “Case in point was the reunion
(2003) after 20 years. Some of the guys I hadn’t seen since that time,
but it was like we never left ECU. I do talk to about 6 or 7 regularly
and a few others when I get a number now and then. All the guys there,
including the trainer, Choo (Charles Justice), it was like it was
yesterday. Nobody changed much and we joked around like we were all
still on the team. We relived moments and then going through the new
facilities and it was funny that 20 years later, some of us still held
records. Guess it shows that some of us were pretty good even compared
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