My favourite Erik Harris story is the time he got stuck at the Buffalo Airport after the birth of his twins during his rookie season with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
Amid the chaos and joy of becoming a father for the first time, he forgot to arrange a ride back to Hamilton. Instead of calling then-director of football operations Shawn Burke, he mentioned his predicament on Twitter and spent the next couple of hours taking offers from good-hearted fans to come get him.
Instead, he cabbed it back at a cost of almost $200.
Think he’s forgotten those Hamilton roots? Here’s what he Tweeted after NFL reporter Ian Rapoport broke the news of Harris’ two-year, $6.5 million USD deal with $2.5 million guaranteed.
— Erik Harris (@e_harris_31) March 8, 2019
Raiders. Ticats. The future. The past. Both integral parts of his journey.
This is my second-favourite Erik Harris story.
During their two seasons as road roommates with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Harris and Delvin Breaux used to talk about playing in the National Football League all the time. Breaux made it happen, signing with the New Orleans Saints in 2013 and enjoying a stellar rookie campaign.
Then he helped Harris get there, too.
It was Breaux who put in a good word with the Saints coaching staff, selling both the on-field abilities (excellent speed packed into a 6-foot-3, 225-pound frame) and an off-field work ethic of his friend and former teammate. The sell job was enough to get Harris a workout on a Tuesday in New Orleans.
“I was nervous because it was a shot at the NFL but it was even worse because Delvin was there to support me,” Harris said at the time. “I knew he had gone out on a limb for me and I didn’t want to let him down.”
It was Harris’ only NFL workout and afterwards, he ate lunch with Breaux in the cafeteria, while agent Gil Scott – who represents both players – hammered out a contract with the Saints front office. Harris signed it and caught his flight home.
When the news broke, Ticats fans – including some of the same ones who’d offered him a ride – were happy at the news. Harris conveyed his appreciation for the city, team and fans that gave him his start in pro football and then took to Twitter to express those sentiments directly.
“When people are more excited to see you get an opportunity because of the type of person you are, that’s touching, ” Harris wrote. “#ForeverGrateful”
This is my third-favourite Erik Harris and it’s only third because I didn’t write it.
“…his journey has veered from the conventional, from helping his single mother watch four younger brothers to emerging unscathed from the nasty accident to working at a potato chip factory after he went undrafted to now drawing unprompted praise from one of the NFL’s most famous head coaches in Jon Gruden.”
The piece, by Matt Schneidman of the Mercury News, goes into detail on Harris’ journey from surrogate Dad to his four brothers to NFL player, including the torn ACL he suffered his rookie year with the Saints. And yes, the potato chip factory.
This is my fourth favourite Erik Harris story because the video quality sucks and I’m rocking the buzz cut.
As a journalist, I don’t cheer for teams or outcomes but I find it hard to not root for certain people, individuals I’ve come to know, like and respect. Erik is one of those people. Over the years, I’ve found myself wanting the best for him and his family as he’s worked his way from the Ticats to the NFL and now to a level of financial stability that few get to realize. I’m happy for him.
The Erik Harris story isn’t over yet. But I’ve enjoyed it, every step of the way.
We have signed Safety @e_harris_31 to a two-year contract.
— Oakland Raiders (@Raiders) March 8, 2019