Published Article : Tommie Harris

My article published in the Winter 2007-2008 issue of GAME Sports Magazine

In a day where media overwhelms you with athletes getting indicted, arrested, charged with DUI’s, and presented with paternity suits, Tommie Harris is a breath of fresh air. Arguably the most explosive defensive lineman in the game, this monster of the midway will decimate you on the field, but has a big heart off the field.

The 6-3, 295 pounder who can bench-press 440 pounds, put his muscle to work during the off-season in 2005 when he spent 2 weeks in Gbanga (a small village in Liberia) helping build a school for an orphanage. Upon his return he started the Tommie Harris Foundation that is dedicated to raising money “for the purpose of inspiring hope, enriching kid’s lives, and building a better future for our children.”

So humble and bashful when asked questions about how important it is for him to give back to the community; he sits back in his chair and I could tell he doesn’t like talking about his charity efforts. He feels anyone who has been blessed with the things he has should do whatever they can and is not looking for recognition for doing so. Realizing I wasn’t going to get much from him in this regard his marketing agent Bill Horn speaks up for him. “Tommie is such a giving person and loves kids. He never turns down an autograph from a kid.” He continues on, telling a story about a 10 year old boy that was shot while riding his bicycle. Harris was in New York when the incident happened and called the boy to make sure he was alright. As soon as he returned to Chicago he went to see him, bought him a new bike, and a signed jersey.

Horn, who was also a representative for the late great Reggie White, often compares the two. Harris had the chance to meet him when he was in college before he died and White became sort of a mentor to him. ‘I believe Tommie is the same person that Reggie was both on and off the field”, Horn says, “And can do much greater things than Reggie did.”

In April he turned 24 and instead of having a star-studded, VIP only exclusive bash, he decided to team up with Prevent Child Abuse America and turned his birthday party into a fundraiser. The general public could buy tickets to the bash where they mingled with him and his celebrity friends, and the proceeds went to charity.

He’s extremely laidback about giving back, and is so fortunate for what he has, but when the 2 time probowler is asked what his goals are on the field he sits straight up and says, ''I want a Super Bowl ring, and I believe this team is capable of winning it this year.'' (His response before the season started.) Since, the Bears have been having a really hard time. The defense has succumb to some key injuries with Nathan Vasher (groin), Lance Briggs (hamstring), and even Harris whose hamstring skeptics felt wasn’t really 100% at the beginning of the season and then went on to sprain his knee in week 3’s game against Dallas. Offense has had its struggles as well with the quarterback switch from Rex Grossman to Brian Griese in week 4, and their running game not being as effective after losing Thomas Jones to the NY Jets.

Many people have given up on the Bears this season, and have even went as far to say that the team is no longer hungry and was happy just making it to the big game. Others feel they’ve just fallen in the traditional trap that the team that goes to the Super Bowl and loses, always has a terrible season the following year. Despite all of that, Harris still has a positive outlook on his team and still feels they have a chance to make it to the big game. “We just need to fix some things on strategy, offensive and defense-wise and we’ll be ready for the play-offs.”

Harris led the league with 5 sacks after only 4 games, but doesn’t dwell on what could have happened if he hadn’t severely injured his hamstring last December. Instead, he vows to show us this season by proclaiming himself the “Real Deal” and ensures that he is back at 100% and ready to start where he left off. So far this season he has proved just that. With the completion of week 7, Harris had 6 sacks leaving him only 2 shy of tying for the sack leader. He is definitely on the path to become “Defensive Player of the Year,” which has always been one of his goals. ''Someday, I'd like to get five sacks in one game,'' Harris said. ''That would be as good as it gets. The most I've ever gotten is three.''

A leader both on and off the field, I leave you with one of his favorite quotes, “Character is what’s displayed when no one else is watching.” Well Mr. Harris, if no one else is...GAME is definitely watching!


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