Harrington is upbeat about season No. 2
Former Duck star is pleased with new coach, new receiver
They've got their quarterback, a promising rookie wide receiver, some new defensive players, a new head coach and an injection of positive attitude.
So, Joey Harrington plans to lead the Detroit Lions to the 2004 Super Bowl, huh? Well, maybe the playoffs.
'It's a 'what have you done for me lately league,' and we want to win now,' the Portland native and former University of Oregon star says. 'We're not building for the future.'
'I can't crystal-ball it,' Harrington says, 'but we're working very hard. It's a definite, very definite, positive attitude. We're not 'settling' in practices settling for average execution. We're focused on details and about improving.'
The Lions suffered through a 3-13 season in Harrington's first year, which ended with him undergoing a procedure for an irregular heartbeat and sitting out the season finale. His heart feels fine, he says, and he couldn't feel better with Steve Mariucci coaching the team.
'There's just a very positive atmosphere around the entire building,' Harrington says during a break in a Lions minicamp. He says Mariucci, above all, holds players 'very' accountable.
The Lions picked Harrington No. 3 in last year's draft, and they used the No. 2 pick this year to provide him with Charles Rogers, an acrobatic, speedy, 6-4 receiver from Michigan State.
'He's a very talented player, but he's not a cure-all. Nobody is,' Harrington says. 'No one person is going to come in and turn a team around. I went through it last year. It's not fair to put that on Charles' shoulders.'
Experts say that Harrington only needs the deep threat to improve his offensive production, and that running back James Stewart can rush for 1,000 yards with some help.
'He stretches the defense vertically, even if he doesn't get the ball,' Harrington says of Rogers. 'He opens everything up underneath, having him as a deep threat. The defensive backs can't play as tight, and safeties can't break as quickly.'
Off the field, Harrington doesn't intend to abandon agent David Dunn, who was recently assessed $44 million in damages after losing a civil court suit filed by former partner Leigh Steinberg.
Steinberg alleged that Dunn stole his clients, before Harrington came on the scene. Dunn represents many NFL quarterbacks, including Drew Bledsoe and Jake Plummer, and signed No. 1 overall draft pick Carson Palmer this year.
'I think choosing David Dunn is one of the best decisions I made, post-college,' Harrington says. 'He's loyal, straightforward, a good person, never does one of his clients wrong. I will stand by him 100 percent.'
Harrington said he doesn't know a lot about the case. 'I didn't bother myself with it,' he says. 'But Dave will always be my guy.'
Harrington plans a return to Portland later this month for a four-week break before training camp. He'll help his foundation put on a concert at the Crystal Ballroom to benefit the Shriners Hospital for Children. He wanted to play in Neil Lomax's Quarterback Shootout this year (June 14 at Heron Lakes) and last, but 'it didn't work out.' Harrington says he's an unofficial 10 handicap.
'A lot of those guys have the luxury of taking off after practice and skipping workouts,' he says of his fellow NFL quarterbacks. 'I don't quite have that luxury, yet.'