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Joey Harrington

Joey Harrington
Joey Harrington with the Saints in 2008.
No. 3, 13
Position: Quarterback
Personal information
Date of birth: (1978-10-21) October 21, 1978
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
Career history
Career highlights and awards
  • Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year (2001)
  • NFL FedEx Air Player of the Week
Career NFL statistics
TDINT: 79–85
Passing yards: 14,693
Passer rating: 69.4
Stats at

John Joseph "Joey" Harrington, Jr. (born October 21, 1978) is a former American football quarterback. He was drafted by the Detroit Lions third overall in the 2002 NFL Draft, where he played for most of his professional career. He played college football at Oregon.

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


  • Early years 1
  • College career 2
  • Professional career 3
    • Detroit Lions 3.1
      • Trade 3.1.1
    • Miami Dolphins 3.2
    • Atlanta Falcons 3.3
    • New Orleans Saints 3.4
    • Performance questions 3.5
    • Career statistics 3.6
  • Personal 4
    • Broadcasting 4.1
    • Philanthropy 4.2
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Early years

Harrington was born and raised in Portland, Oregon, where he has resided his entire life. 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.[1]

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),[2][3] Harrington's 7,121 yards of total offense rank third in University of Oregon history.

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."[4] 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. He was named the 2002 recipient of the Detroit Lions/Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association Rookie of the Year Award.

Harrington's career in Detroit was largely unsuccessful. Front office mismanagement, woeful offensive line protection, lack of talent at other skill positions, 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, when he threw for 19 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. The Lions started the season with a 4–2 record, but Harrington led 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 favour of veteran Jeff Garcia for the team's game against the Cleveland Browns to try to 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. That 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 signed free agents Jon Kitna and Josh McCown, and traded Harrington to the Miami Dolphins on May 12, 2006, for a fifth- or sixth-round draft pick, depending on performance stipulations in Miami. 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.[5]

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 31–13 win over 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 20 yards, throwing two 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.[6]

Harrington was elevated to starting QB after the suspension of 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 the Week 3 Atlanta home opener against division rivals the Carolina Panthers, Harrington completed 31 of 44 passes with two touchdowns and no interceptions for a 110.1 passer rating in a 27–20 loss. In Week 4, Harrington improved on his numbers with a 121.7 passer rating, completing 23 of 29 passes for two touchdowns with no interceptions, leading the Falcons to their first win of the 2007 season.

On March 5, 2008, the Falcons released Harrington in a salary cap move. He was re-signed by the team seven days later[7] but was again released in August after the Falcons completed their preseason schedule.[8]

New Orleans Saints

Harrington signed with the New Orleans Saints on September 19, 2008.[9] 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.[10] After the Saints' injury situation became more manageable, Harrington was re-signed on October 1, but was cut again on October 6.[11] He once again re-signed with the Saints on October 12, 2008, as an inactive third-string quarterback.[11]

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

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.[12] 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.[13]

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. [14] 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 Team Games Games started Completions Attempts Completion % Yards Yards/Attempt Touchdowns Interceptions Rating
2002 DET 14 12 215 429 50.1 2,294 5.3 12 16 59.9
2003 DET 16 16 309 554 55.8 2,880 5.2 17 22 63.9
2004 DET 16 16 274 489 56.0 3,047 6.2 19 12 77.5
2005 DET 12 11 188 330 57.0 2,021 6.1 12 12 72.0
2006 MIA 11 11 223 388 57.5 2,236 5.8 12 15 68.2
2007 ATL 12 10 215 348 61.8 2,215 6.4 7 8 77.2
Total: 81 76 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 two sons, John "Jack" Patrick Harrington, born in 2009, the other born in 2012. Emily is a nurse practitioner, and Harrington spoke about them opening a medical clinic to serve the homeless in Portland, after he retired from football.[15] 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.[16] On February 1, 2008, Harrington appeared as a guest chef on a special Super Bowl episode of The Rachael Ray Show.[17] Harrington is a distant cousin of professional golfer Pádraig Harrington and professional poker player Dan Harrington.[18] 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.[19]

Harrington and his family moved back to Portland after his release from the Saints in September 2009. He is spending more time with his wife, Emily, and son, Jack, and the numerous charities in which he is involved.[20]

On July 31, 2011, Harrington was struck by an SUV while riding his bicycle in Portland, Oregon. Harrington suffered a broken collarbone and a punctured lung and fractured his first two ribs below his collarbone and also got six staples in his head behind his right ear due to the accident.[21]


In 2009, Harrington worked as an NFL and college football commentator for Fox Sports Radio. In 2010, he served as a color analyst for Oregon Ducks football games on Oregon Sports Network. Currently, Harrington is a college football analyst for Fox College Football on FX and Fox.


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. Harrington's parents, John and Valerie Harrington, run the foundation.[22]

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.[23]

See also


  1. ^ "Harrington,".  
  2. ^ Burton, Rick (March 2002). "Superior Student Athletes". Charles H. Lundquist College of Business, University of Oregon. Retrieved 2007-08-19. 
  3. ^ "Joey Harrington, QB - Oregon".  
  4. ^ "Detroit Lions Site: Joey Harrington". Archived from the original on July 2, 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-19. 
  5. ^  
  6. ^ "Former No. 1 pick Harrington agrees to Falcons deal".  
  7. ^ Falcons re-sign Harrington 1 week after cutting him (– Scholar search).  
  8. ^ Falcons keep Shockley, cut Harrington.  
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ a b
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Bly points finger for firing at Harrington".  
  15. ^ Chris Colston, "Harrington may be on final chance in Atlanta," USA Today, August 9, 2007.
  16. ^ Stacey Pressman, "From the pigskin to the piano,", August 30, 2004.
  17. ^ Philip Zaroo, "Joey Harrington gets yum-o with Rachael Ray,", February 02, 2008.
  18. ^ Spousta, Tom (2005-03-03). "Padraig Harrington goes clubbin' in USA". USA Today. 
  19. ^
  20. ^ Eggers, Kerry (October 29, 2009). "Harrington ‘incredibly happy’ back home".  
  21. ^
  22. ^ Vondersmith, Jason (2003-05-23). "Harrington lends a hand to next generation". Portland Tribune. Retrieved March 25, 2009. 
  23. ^ Rovell, Darren (2003-06-16). "Former Oregon QB auctions Times Square billboard". ESPN. Retrieved March 25, 2009. 

External links

  • The Harrington Family Foundation
  • ESPN Profile
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