GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Al Harris didn't know how a ceremonial retirement was supposed to work and he didn't really care. All that mattered to the two-time Pro Bowl cornerback was that he was somehow able to say he retired as a member of the Green Bay Packers.
"Just over my career I had an awesome time, but the better part of my years were in Green Bay, (so) it was just important to me to retire as a Packer," Harris said Thursday, nearly 3 1/2 years since he played his final snap for the Packers. "I had a great experience in Philadelphia, great experience in Tampa and everywhere else I played, but Green Bay is a special place to play football."
Harris, now an assistant coach with the Kansas City Chiefs, said he came up with the idea the day he announced his retirement in December 2011 while playing for the St. Louis Rams.
He spent 14 seasons in the NFL after entering the league as a sixth-round draft pick by Tampa Bay out of Texas A&M-Kingsville in 1997. Harris spent his first season on the practice squad, then the next five years with the Philadelphia Eagles before being traded to the Packers. He arrived in Green Bay in 2003 and quickly became a fan favorite for his fierce man-to-man pass coverage and physical style of play.
He never missed a game during his first 10 NFL seasons, but in 2008 he suffered a ruptured spleen that was initially supposed to end his season. Instead, he missed just four games and ended up playing 12 games that year.
His final game in Green Bay came on Nov. 22, 2009, when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament, the lateral collateral ligament, the IT band, the fibular collateral ligament and the lateral hamstring in his left knee against the San Francisco 49ers. He began the 2010 season on the physically unable to perform list while coming back from the knee injury, but he was waived and never activated that season. The Packers went on to win the Super Bowl and Harris received a Super Bowl ring from the team.
He played for the Dolphins and caught on with the Rams, finishing the 2011 season with 20 tackles, seven pass breakups and a fumble recovery. By all accounts, he was playing well when he suffered his second torn ACL, this time in his right knee.