David Harris Announces His Retirement from the NFL

Posted Feb 23, 2018

Todd Bowles: 'The Hitman’ Was One of the Best Players and People I’ve Coached

Understated from wire-to-wire, former Jets LB David Harris took to Twitter Friday to announce his retirement from the NFL.

Harris was the Jets’ second-round selection (No. 47 overall) in the 2007 draft. The Michigan product played 10 seasons with the Green & White, leading the team in tackles in nine of those campaigns. He ranks No. 2 in franchise history with 1,260 tackles, trailing only Kyle Clifton’s 1,471 stops.

“David Harris operated at the highest standard for both performance and professionalism and is as fine a person as you will ever meet," Jets CEO Christopher Johnson said. "His endurance, intelligence and reliability were his trademarks and he was always there for his teammates. With all of those qualities, what stands out most to me is the humility and selflessness with which he approached each day. I wish him and his family the absolute best that life has to offer and they will always have a home with the New York Jets.”

A second alternate to the Pro Bowl after both the 2009 and 2011 seasons, Harris was named All-Pro second team by The Associated Press after the '09 campaign in which he tallied 127 tackles, 5.5 sacks, two interceptions and two forced fumbles. Behind their No.1-ranked defense, the Jets advanced to the AFC Championship Game.

The Jets made a repeat appearance in the AFC Championship Game in 2010 as Harris remained stellar in the middle, finishing with 119 tackles (90 solos) and adding three sacks in addition to one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. Following regular-season play, Harris was voted the Curtis Martin Team MVP by his teammates.

A leader in the locker room, Harris was twice name winner of the Dennis Byrd Award as the "most inspirational" Jet, in 2012 and 2015, and was the team's Ed Block Courage Award winner in 2009.  He rarely came off the field, starting in 137 of the Jets’ 138 games from 2008-16 (including the six playoff starts in 2009 and ’10), and 147 of his 154 regular-season games in his decade with the Green & White.

“Players like David Harris don’t come around very often,” Jets head coach Todd Bowles said. “He’s one of the best players and people I’ve ever coached. I have nothing but the highest respect for him as a person and a leader. He is an example of everything you want from a player. I am proud to have coached him and wish him and his family the best.”

Finishing his career with New England in 2017, Harris had 22 tackles and 1.5 sacks in 10 regular-season games. He was inactive during the Patriots’ playoff run including Super Bowl LII.

A tenacious performer, Harris earned the nickname “Hitman” for his tackling prowess. His teammates gravitated to him because of his professional approach and consistency on and off the field. Always preferring to stay out of the media glare, Harris quietly let his plans be known with a tweet from the agency that represents him. While the lights have come down on Harris’ career, few Jets ever shone brighter.

“We wish David all the best in retirement. His contributions will long be remembered as he played at the highest level on the field, matching that with a quiet confidence off it,” Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan said. “All the while, he served as a humble example to countless teammates on how to be a pro.”