Joey Harrington opens up about time in Detroit

Posted at 5:32 PM, Dec 21, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-21 17:32:53-05

Former Detroit Lions quarterback Joey Harrington opened up about his time in Detroit in an article with Sports Illustrated.

Titled, "Despite What You May Think, My NFL Career Was A Success," Harrington said when he left Detroit, he was a "shell of the player he once was."

As an example of how "broken" things were, Harrington wrote about a conversation he had with then head coach Steve Mariucci.

"I remember walking into the office of then head coach Steve Mariucci and telling him, 'I need you to give me permission to throw the ball down the field.' I’d never felt so down. At that point, I was just searching?—?grasping?—?for some kind of support," Harrington wrote.

He went on to write that Mariucci asked why he needed permission, to which Harrington said he is afraid to make a mistake because Mariucci always said to check down. That's when Mariucci got up, walked out the door and said he had to to interviews, according to Harrington.

"That was at the very end, when things had all but collapsed around me. Mariucci was a good guy who was trying to save his job, but when one of my teammates went out and said I was the reason our coach got fired, it created a situation where I just imploded mentally. I couldn’t handle it. This wasn’t football. This wasn’t team. This wasn’t fun," Harrington wrote.

Harrington also said he wasn't happy with his teammates near the end of his time in Detroit.

He told Rod Marinelli, "If you want me to be here, I will be here, because I respect you, and I respect Matt. But with the exception of one or two guys in that locker room...the rest of them can go to hell."

He also said that General Manager Matt Millen was "one of the only stand-up guys in that organization."

"Toward the end of my tenure in Detroit, Millen and I sat down and talked. He asked me flat out if I wanted to be there anymore. I told him I didn’t know. He’d just brought in Mike Martz?—?at the time one of the NFL’s most celebrated offensive gurus, just a few years removed from having helped take the Rams’ 'Greatest Show on Turf' to the Super Bowl. It was Millen’s belief that Mike could get me back on track.

"I still talk to Matt Millen to this day. He's a fantastic, wonderful guy," he added.

Harrington was drafted by the Lions with the third overall pick in 2002 after a career at Oregon where he was a Heisman Trophy finalist in 2001.

In his four seasons with Detroit, he threw 79 touchdowns, 85 interceptions and had a 68.1 quarterback rating. He was traded to the Miami Dolphins in 2006 after the Lions signed Jon Kitna.

Read the entire article about his football career by clicking here.