Damon Harrison doesn’t hate the New York Jets. That’s because he has no reason to.
The New York Giants defensive tackle hadspent the entirety of his NFL career with the Jets up until this offseason, making the Jets as an unheralded, undrafted rookie free agent in 2012 before becoming one of the league’s top interior defensive linemen. On Saturday night, he faces his old team as one of the cornerstone additions of the Giants free agency spending spree.
Harrison was a keystone signing of a revamped Giants defense that was worst in the league a season ago. He will be counted on along with pass rush additions such as Olivier Vernon to transform this unit.
Awkwardly, he was asked on Thursday if he hated the Jets, the team that gave him a shot to make the NFL.
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“I don't hate them at all, I don't hate too many teams in the league,” Harrison told reporters. “It's just a game, it'll be fun to get out there and play with my former teammates and some guys I consider family.”
Last year Harrison had a career-high 72 tackles for a Jets team that finished 10-6 and nearly made the playoffs. It was a season where he burst onto the scene as a run-stopper and someone who demanded double blockers.
He came into the league with the Jets under Rex Ryan, a polarizing figure as a head coach. The current approach on Saturday against the Jets in what is termed the ‘Snoopy Bowl’ is different under his current head coach Ben McAdoo than how Ryan handled things.
Harrison was willing to praise his old head coach, now with the Buffalo Bills.
“Everything was a big deal. Everything. He made you believe that every game, every snap, everything mattered, as do a lot of coaches,” Harrison said. “But it was just a little different with Rex, and he wanted the Snoopy Bowl more than some others.”