Joey Harrington: Wikis


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Joey Harrington

Joey Harrington with the Saints in 2008.
No. --     Free Agent
Personal information
Date of birth: October 21, 1978 (1978-10-21) (age 31)
Place of birth: Portland, Oregon
Height: 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m) Weight: 210 lb (95 kg)
Career information
College: Oregon
NFL Draft: 2002 / Round: 1 / Pick: 3
Debuted in 2002 for the Detroit Lions
Career history
 As player:
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics as of Week 17, 2008
TD-INT     79-85
Passing yards     14,693
Passer rating     69.4
Stats at

John Joseph Harrington, Jr. (born October 21, 1978 in Portland, Oregon) is an American football quarterback who is currently a free agent. He was drafted by the Detroit Lions third overall in the 2002 NFL Draft, where he played for most of his professional career. He ranks third all-time in Detroit history in pass completions, with 986. He played college football at the University of Oregon. He is also a cousin of Padraig Harrington of the PGA and an accomplished pianist.

Harrington has also played American football professionally briefly for the Miami Dolphins, Atlanta Falcons, and New Orleans Saints.


Early years

Joey Harrington was born and raised in Portland, Oregon, where he has resided his entire life. He is Roman Catholic. He graduated from Central Catholic High School in Portland, and finished his high school career with more than 4,200 yards and 50 TDs rushing and passing.

His grandfather and father played quarterback for the Universities of Portland and Oregon, respectively, and upon hearing of Joey's birth, legendary Oregon Ducks' coach Len Casanova jokingly sent his parents a letter-of-intent.

College career

Harrington is a graduate of the University of Oregon, and was a three-year starter on the Oregon Ducks football team. In his senior season at Oregon, he threw for 2,415 yards and 23 touchdowns, and he finished his college career with a 25-3 record (including bowl wins against 12th-ranked Texas and 3rd-ranked Colorado), 512 completions in 928 attempts (55.2%), 6911 passing yards, 59 touchdowns, 23 interceptions, and 210 rushing yards and 18 scores on 145 carries. A Business Administration major with a 3.23 GPA (twice earning honors with a 3.34 GPA),[1][2] Harrington's 7,121 yards of total offense rank third in University of Oregon history.

Harrington's worst collegiate game came during the 2000 Civil War game against the Oregon State Beavers, Oregon's arch rival. Harrington threw 5 interceptions (and fumbled once), earning the Ducks a 23-13 defeat and costing them a trip to the Rose Bowl.

Harrington finished fourth in the voting for the Heisman Trophy in 2001, following a campaign for the award that included a billboard in Times Square promoting him as "Joey Heisman."[3] He earned numerous honors, including first-team All-American, Pac 10 Offensive Player of the Year, and second-team honors from The Sporting News. He was one of five finalists for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award in 2001. EA Sports selected him for the cover of the 2003 edition of their NCAA Football video game series.

Harrington's best collegiate game was arguably the 2002 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona when he threw for 350 yards and 4 touchdowns and led the Ducks to a 38-16 victory over the Colorado Buffaloes. Harrington was named offensive player of the game.

Professional career


Detroit Lions

Harrington was selected by the Detroit Lions with the third pick overall in the 2002 NFL Draft. Harrington took over for incumbent Mike McMahon late in the Lions Week 1 loss against the Miami Dolphins and became the Lions' starting quarterback shortly thereafter, finishing that year with a 50.1 completion percentage, a ratio of 12 touchdowns to 16 interceptions, and a 59.9 quarterback rating; the Lions finished the season with a 3-13 record.

Harrington's career in Detroit was largely unsuccessful. Front office mismanagement and an erratic philosophical change in the team's identity to a conservative West Coast Offense (WCO) oriented attack under Head Coach Steve Mariucci may have played a factor in Harrington not realizing his potential professionally. Harrington's best season as a Lion came in 2004 where he threw for 19 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. The Lions started the season with a 4-2 record, but Harrington would lead the team to only two more wins the rest of the season. They finished 6-10 and missed the playoffs for the fifth season in a row.

On October 23, 2005, Mariucci chose to bench Harrington in favor of Jeff Garcia for the team's game against the Cleveland Browns to try and provide a spark to the team's 2-3 start. The Lions won 13-10, and Garcia rushed for Detroit's only touchdown. After yet another dismal offensive performance, Mariucci declared that Garcia would remain the starter. This marked the first time since the 2002 season that Harrington did not appear in a Lions' game, breaking a string of 37 consecutive appearances. Harrington regained the starting role the week after Garcia threw a game ending interception returned for a touchdown in overtime against Chicago. Harrington started again for Detroit on November 13, 2005, against the Arizona Cardinals, throwing for three touchdowns without an interception in the Lions' 29-21 win. Harrington was voted by Lions fans as their Offensive Player of the Year, according to the Lions' official website. Despite his difficult times in Detroit, he remained unwaveringly optimistic and was thus dubbed "Joey Blue-Skies" and "Joey Sunshine" by sarcastic Lions' fans and beat writers who grew tired of his predictable post-game commentary as the losses continued to mount.


After the 2005 season, Detroit chose to go in a new direction with their quarterback position and signed veteran free agents Jon Kitna and Josh McCown, putting Harrington on the trading block. On May 12, 2006, a trade was finalized between the Miami Dolphins and the Detroit Lions. Reportedly, the Lions were given a 6th round pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, but if Harrington met certain playing time conditions with the Dolphins, the pick would be upgraded to the 5th round. Harrington started the 2006 season as a backup behind new Dolphins quarterback Daunte Culpepper. During his tenure with the Lions, Harrington started 55 games and had a record of 18 wins and 37 losses.[4]

Miami Dolphins

In 2006, Harrington did not play in the Dolphins' first four games, backing up Culpepper. Culpepper injured his shoulder prior to Miami's fifth game against the New England Patriots, forcing Harrington into the starting role. Harrington lost his first three starts, before leading Miami to a stunning 31-13 upset of the previously unbeaten (7-0 at the time) Chicago Bears. Harrington followed that game with four consecutive victories. In perhaps his most memorable game professionally, Harrington capped off this winning streak in front of a national television audience on Thanksgiving Day in Detroit with a 27-10 victory at Ford Field against his former team. Harrington passed for 3 touchdowns and 213 yards against Detroit, compiling a passer rating of 107.4, his highest single game rating for 2006. Harrington struggled after the Lions' game. Against the Buffalo Bills in Week 15, Harrington went 5-for-17 for a mere 20 yards, throwing 2 interceptions. His passer rating for the game was 0.0, the minimum possible under the complex NFL formula. Harrington was pulled midway through Miami's next game against the New York Jets, replaced in the 13-10 Christmas night loss by Cleo Lemon. Harrington did not appear in Miami's Week 17 finale against the Indianapolis Colts. Overall, Harrington played in and started eleven games, leading Miami to a 5-6 record (Miami finished 6-10 for the season as a whole).

Atlanta Falcons

On April 9, 2007 Harrington agreed to a two-year, $6 million contract with the Atlanta Falcons to compete with D. J. Shockley and Chris Redman to back up Michael Vick.[5]

Harrington was elevated to starting QB after the suspension of Michael Vick for the 2007 NFL season. Harrington performed well in the preseason, but after going 0-2, Atlanta signed former Jacksonville starting quarterback Byron Leftwich as a possible replacement for Harrington. During Week 3 Atlanta home opener against division rivals the Carolina Panthers Harrington completed 31/44 passes with 2 touchdowns and no interceptions for a 110.1 passer rating in a 20-27 loss. In Week 4 Harrington improved on his numbers with a 121.7 passer rating where he completed 23/29 passes for two touchdowns with no interceptions, leading the Falcons to their first win of the 2007 season.

On March 5, 2008, the Atlanta Falcons released Harrington in a salary cap move. He was re-signed by the team seven days later[6] but was again released in August after the Falcons completed their preseason schedule.[7]

New Orleans Saints

Harrington signed with the New Orleans Saints on September 19, 2008.[8] He was the third-string quarterback behind Drew Brees and Mark Brunell for one game against the Denver Broncos. He was released only five days later on September 24, 2008 due to increasing injuries on the Saints roster.[9] After the Saints' injury situation became more manageable, Harrington was re-signed on October 1, but was cut again on October 6.[10] He was once again re-signed with the Saints on October 12, 2008 as an inactive third quarterback.[10]

On March 30, 2009, Harrington was re-signed to a one-year deal by the Saints. He was released yet again on September 5, 2009.

Performance questions

After he was drafted third overall and signed to a $37 million (US) contract, Harrington was given the label of "Savior" by many fans and media in Detroit - then deemed a "bust" when he did not live up to those high expectations. Many speculate that he may have been handed the starting quarterback's job prematurely. However, many fans have called into question his mobility in the pocket, arm strength, leadership, and toughness. Many other highly touted collegiate quarterbacks that have not performed well professionally have come under similar scrutiny, such as Tim Couch and David Carr, who also eventually lost their starting jobs and were traded or released.

When Lions head coach Steve Mariucci was fired by general manager Matt Millen, Lions Pro Bowl cornerback and team captain Dré Bly told Rich Eisen in an NFL Total Access interview that he blamed Harrington for the dismissal of Mariucci.[11] Bly later apologized to the Lions, but not to Harrington, leading many to speculate whether or not Detroit's locker room was divided – as few players spoke publicly in Harrington's defense.[12] Mariucci was popular among most players, in part for his relatively loose coaching style and soft practices.

Some fingers were also pointed at the Lions' management and coaching for Harrington's woes in Detroit, which have collectively produced only one playoff victory since the team's last championship in 1957. Jeff Garcia publicly questioned the Lions' front office, saying on WXYT that "You start to question whether the organization has the people in place who can go about making the proper selections."[13] Howie Long, analyst for Fox Sports, said that Matt Millen made a mistake by drafting Harrington, and then again in the offseason before the 2005 season by signing Garcia instead of Brad Johnson. The signing of Garcia created a bit of a quarterback controversy in Detroit (since he and Mariucci had an established relationship from their years together with the San Francisco 49ers). Ultimately, Millen and much of the Lions' front office as it existed during Harrington's tenure in Detroit would be replaced or realigned in 2008.

Despite these questions, Harrington has yet to lead any NFL team to a playoff berth (or winning record) in his eight-year professional career. He has been ranked in the league's top 10 in only two major statistical passing categories in his career – Pass Completions in 2003 when he finished eighth with 309 and Pass Attempts when he finished third with 554 in the same year. He also finished tied for first with Marc Bulger that year with 22 interceptions. His current status as an unclaimed free agent for the majority of the 2009 season indicates that most NFL teams view Harrington as an option to be considered in injury-emergency situations only.

Career statistics

Year Games Games Started Completions Attempts Completion % Yards Yards/Attempt Touchdowns Interceptions Rating
2002 14 12 215 429 50.1 2,294 5.3 12 16 59.9
2003 16 16 309 554 55.8 2,880 5.2 17 22 63.9
2004 16 16 274 489 56.0 3,047 6.2 19 12 77.5
2005 12 11 188 330 57.0 2,021 6.1 12 12 72.0
2006 11 11 223 388 57.5 2,236 5.8 12 15 68.2
2007 12 10 215 348 61.8 2,215 6.4 7 8 77.2
2008 0 0 0 0 0.0 0 0.0 0 0 0.0
Totals 71 66 1,424 2,538 56.1 14,693 5.8 79 85 69.4


Harrington married Emily Hatten on March 10, 2007. They have known each other since high school but did not begin dating until after he had graduated from college. They have one son, John "Jack" Patrick Harrington, born in 2009. Emily is a nurse practitioner, and Harrington has spoken about them opening a medical clinic to serve the homeless in Portland, Oregon after he retires from football.[14] One of Harrington's nicknames is "Piano Man," referring to the fact that he is an accomplished jazz pianist who has occasionally performed with artists such as Jason Mraz, Blues Traveler, and Third Eye Blind.[15] On February 1, 2008, Harrington appeared as a guest chef on a special Super Bowl episode of The Rachael Ray Show.[16] Harrington is a distant cousin of professional golfer Pádraig Harrington and professional poker player Dan Harrington.[17] Harrington's brother, Michael, played football at the University of Idaho, and was also a quarterback.

Joey Harrington was the guest on the February 2, 2008, episode NPR's Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me!, as a guest during the 'Not My Job' segment.

Harrington and his family moved back to Portland, Oregon after his release from the Saints in September 2009. Harrington is currently working as a radio analyst for FOX Sports radio for both college football and the NFL. He is also spending more time with his wife, Emily, and son, Jack, and the numerous charities in which he is involved. He remains open to a return to the NFL, given the right situation.[18]


Harrington established the Harrington Family Foundation in 2003 as a nonprofit organization with the goal of supporting youth education and activities as well as other miscellaneous benefits. Busy with a professional football career, his parents, John and Valerie Harrington run the foundation.[19]

The foundation began with a portion of Joey’s signing bonus with the Detroit Lions. It raises further money by selling memorabilia items and booking events. After being given the New York Times Square "Joey Heisman" billboard by the former Oregon Ducks Athletic Director Bill Moos, he proceeded to cut it up and sell the pieces for charity. All the proceeds from the sales went toward scholarships for the University of Oregon.[20]


  1. ^ Burton, Rick (March 2002). "Superior Student Athletes". Charles H. Lundquist College of Business, University of Oregon. Retrieved 2007-08-19.  
  2. ^ "Joey Harrington, QB - Oregon". USA Today. April 20, 2002. Retrieved 2007-08-19.  
  3. ^ "Detroit Lions Site: Joey Harrington". Retrieved 2007-08-19.  
  4. ^ Pasquarelli, Len (May 12, 2006). "Harrington sent to Dolphins for draft pick". ESPN. Retrieved 2007-08-19.  
  5. ^ "Former No. 1 pick Harrington agrees to Falcons deal". ESPN. April 9, 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-19.  
  6. ^ ( – Scholar search) Falcons re-sign Harrington 1 week after cutting him. Fox Sports. 2008-03-12. Retrieved 2008-03-12.  
  7. ^ Falcons keep Shockley, cut Harrington. Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 2008-08-30. Retrieved 2008-08-30.  
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Bly points finger for firing at Harrington". ESPN. November 29, 2005. Retrieved 2007-08-19.  
  14. ^ Chris Colston, "Harrington may be on final chance in Atlanta," USA Today, August 9, 2007.
  15. ^ Stacey Pressman, "From the pigskin to the piano,", August 30, 2004.
  16. ^ Philip Zaroo, "Joey Harrington gets yum-o with Rachael Ray,", February 02, 2008.
  17. ^ Spousta, Tom (2005-03-03). "Padraig Harrington goes clubbin' in USA". USA Today.  
  18. ^ Eggers, Kerry (October 29, 2009). "Harrington ‘incredibly happy’ back home". Portland Tribune. Retrieved December 6, 2009.  
  19. ^ Vondersmith, Jason (2003-05-23). "Harrington lends a hand to next generation". Portland Tribune. Retrieved March 25, 2009.  
  20. ^ Rovell, Darren (2003-06-16). "Former Oregon QB auctions Times Square billboard". ESPN. Retrieved March 25, 2009.  

External links

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Michael Vick
Atlanta Falcons Starting Quarterback
Succeeded by
Chris Redman
Preceded by
Daunte Culpepper
Miami Dolphins Starting Quarterbacks
2006 (interrupted by Cleo Lemon)
Succeeded by
Trent Green
Preceded by
Charlie Batch
Detroit Lions Starting Quarterbacks
Succeeded by
Jon Kitna


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