Rodney Harrison gave Pats that chip on their shoulders

Patriots fans, and all New Englanders for that matter, are quick to throw out the persecution complex.

For the Pats, Rodney Harrison might have actually invented it.

That man stood at his locker, end of the row, right near Kevin Faulk’s, week after week and talked about how “Nobody respects us. Nobody thinks we can win.”

Um, but Rodney, you’re playing the lowly Bills and you guys are favored by 14.

“Doesn’t matter, nobody thinks we can win,” and so a mantra was born, one that Bill Belichick nurtured brilliantly, and each and every Patriots, save for a Randy Moss or two, has embraced for going on nearly two decades now.

Yeah, but Rodney, you guys went 14-2. You’re one of the most dominant teams in NFL history, looking to repeat after an amazing 2004 regular season?

“Look around, nobody out there respects us. They think we’re going to lose.”

For that press persona alone, Harrison is worthy of Monday’s induction into the Hall of Fame at Patriots Place.

As obstinate, entertaining and most of the time flat-out scintillating as Harrison was with the media here in New England, he was a better football player.

Coming out of Western Illinois, he helped dictate how the position of safety was played in his era.

And Harrison, who rarely as a player used the terms “I” or “me,” was never correctly recognized for it.

How this 46-year-old, two-time Super Bowl champ hasn’t received legitimate support as a candidate for the Pro Football Hall of Fame is preposterous.

The reason is simple, yet ludicrous. Nobody liked Rodney as a player. He was ruthless, at times pushing the dirty envelope.

He was named All-Pro by the writers one year when he did make the Pro Bowl (selected by players and coaches).

There is a reason Brandon Meriweather made the same number of Pro Bowls as Harrison. But enough said on that.

Harrison has always held a special place in this corner, mainly because he allowed this newcomer to the Patriots beat to break his first real “scoop” ever.

It came in 2003, his first Patriots season, when just in passing, I asked how Bill Belichick rolled out the red carpet for him to “woo” him over from the West Coast.

Harrison, by then a two-time Pro Bowler, laughed and then gave me the inside. He and Bill had dinner to discus the signing.

Where, you ask? Capital Grille? The North End? Nope.

Try the old Ground Round near the stadium on Route 1. Vintage Belichick.

“By the time they took away the free popcorn, I knew I’d be a Patriot,” he said.

Now that was breaking news.

Contact Hector Longo at 594-1253 or hlongo@nashuatelegraph.com.