Joey Harrington

John Joseph "Joey" Harrington, Jr. (born October 21, 1978 in ) is an American football quarterback who is a Free Agent of the National Football League. He was drafted by the Detroit Lions third overall in the 2002 NFL Draft. He played college football at Oregon.

Harrington has also been a member of the Miami Dolphins and Atlanta Falcons.

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 both 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, Harrington's 7,121 yards of total offense rank third in University of Oregon history.

Harrington's worst game came during the 2000 Civil War game against the Oregon State Beavers, Oregon's archrival. Harrington threw 5 interceptions (and fumbled once), costing the Ducks a 23-13 defeat and costing them a trip to the Rose Bowl. The game marred an otherwise very good junior season.

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." 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. He was also known for his 2001 appearance on a ten-story billboard in Times Square. EA Sports selected him for the cover of the 2003 edition of their NCAA Football video game series.

Professional career

Detroit Lions

Harrington was picked by the Detroit Lions with the third pick overall in the 2002 NFL Draft. Harrington immediately became the Lions' starting quarterback during his rookie season, finishing that year with a 50.1 completion percentage, a ratio of 12 touchdowns to 16 interceptions, and a decidedly subpar 59.9 quarterback rating; the Lions finished the season with a 3-13 record. Harrington went on to post some of the worst yards per attempt seasons by a regular quarterback in the NFL. Among those performances were his 2002 and 2003 campaigns, the two worst YPA showings in the NFL or AFL since 1960 among QBs with 425 or more attempts in a season.

On October 23, 2005, Lions coach Steve 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, Coach 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 always remained unwaveringly optimistic and was thus dubbed "Joey Blue-Skies" and "Joey Sunshine" by sarcastic Lions fans and writers.


On March 16, 2006, the Detroit Lions signed former Arizona quarterback Josh McCown, and shortly afterward signed veteran quarterback Jon Kitna as well, fueling speculation that Harrington would be cut or traded. He was due a $4 million roster bonus on June 15. On March 20, 2006, Lions coach Rod Marinelli stated to the media that the Lions had "moved on," indicating the team's intention to release or trade Harrington. On April 19, ESPN reported that Harrington had agreed to terms with the Miami Dolphins, and asked Lions GM Matt Millen to release him or to trade him to the Dolphins.

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.

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 three consecutive victories, capped by a 27-10 Thanksgiving Day win at Ford Field against his former team, the Detroit Lions. 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).

For the 2006 season, Harrington completed 223 of 388 passes (57.5 percent completion percentage) for 2,236 yards with 12 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. His passer rating was 68.2, lower than each of his last two seasons with Detroit. Because of a high salary cap number, the Dolphins released Harrington on March 5, 2007.

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.

Harrington was elevated to starting QB after the suspension of Michael Vick for the 2007 NFL (National Football League) 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 zero 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 had 23/29 passes, no interception for two touchdowns which lead to the first win for the Atlanta Falcons in the 2007 season. Harrington has contributed his solid performance on confidence, "It has a lot to do with my confidence and my confidence is higher than at any other point in my NFL career. I have been saying it since I got here [last winter], 'Mentally, I am ready to take this offense on.

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

Baltimore Ravens

Harrington, was a member of the Baltimore Ravens for a couple of days in the pre-season because Troy Smith was in the hospital and they had placed Kyle Boller on injured reserve. Harrington was released a couple days after being signed.

New Orleans Saints

Harrington signed with the New Orleans Saints on September 19, 2008. 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. After the Saints injury situation became more manageable, Harrington was re-signed on October 1, but was cut again on October 6th 2008 .

Performance questions

Harrington was first given the label of "Savior" by fans and media in Detroit - then deemed a "bust" when he did not meet high expectations. Many speculate that his premature start in the NFL, along with lack of surrounding talent, poor coaching, and questionable offensive lines have affected his performance severely. However, many fans cited his lack of mobility in the pocket, his forced passes (resulting in many interceptions) and his general unwillingness to take hits/sacks when necessary. Many other quarterbacks have come under scrutiny, such as Tim Couch and David Carr, who also eventually lost their starting jobs.

Fellow quarterbacks have come to his defense. In 2005, NFL analyst and Hall Of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman wrote that Harrington "can still be a really good quarterback in this league," and does not deserve the blame for what happened in Detroit: "The focus on Joey's play has given every other player a hall pass, and that's not right.

Phil Simms, a CBS Sports analyst and Super Bowl MVP, said in 2006 that Harrington got a bad rap in Detroit. "I am not a Joey Harrington basher," "The quarterback can't overcome bad coaching and bad players. Former Miami Dolphins quarterback and television analyst Dan Marino said that he did not believe that Harrington had the necessary pieces around him in Detroit to be successful, but that he might be OK in a different place.

When Lions head coach Steve Mariucci was fired by general manager Matt Millen, Lions cornerback Dré Bly told Rich Eisen in an NFL Total Access interview that he blamed Harrington for the dismissal of Mariucci. Bly later apologized to the Lions, but not to Harrington.

Some fingers were also pointed at the Lions' management and coaching staff. 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. 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.

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


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. 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. 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. He is the distant cousin of both PGA golfer Pádraig Harrington and professional poker player Dan Harrington.


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