Former Lions player Damon Harrison says he was 'hell-bent' to get out of Detroit
Michael Rothstein looks back on Damon Harrison's time with the Lions and examines the state of the team's defensive line heading into the draft. (1:20)
Apr 14, 2020
Former Lions defensive tackle Damon "Snacks" Harrison says he didn't want to play in Detroit and was "hell-bent on getting out" of the Motor City.
The Lions traded for Harrison on Oct. 25, 2018, sending a fifth-round pick to the New York Giants.
"I was a bit angry," Harrison said of the trade during an appearance on the Green Light podcast, hosted by former NFL player Chris Long.
That season, Harrison was graded by Pro Football Focus as the No. 3 interior defender in the NFL, with the best run-stop percentage in the league (16%).
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"To be completely honest with you, I didn't want to go to Detroit because of some things that I heard from some guys in the past and some guys who were there," Harrison said. "So when I got the call that that's where I was traded, I didn't answer the phone for a couple hours. [Lions general manager] Bob Quinn was calling me and I didn't pick up the phone because I was trying to figure out a way to get out of it."
After sitting out all of the spring workouts last year, Harrison, one of the top run-stoppers in the league, was placed on the non-football injury list before signing an extension, which converted much of his base salary into a $7.5 million signing bonus.
"I wasn't prepared for the season mentally," Harrison said.
"I came into camp in shape, but during the first three weeks of camp I think I kind of worked myself out of shape because I wasn't doing anything," Harrison said. "That was a time where, to be honest with you, we were trying to facilitate a trade. I was hell-bent on getting out of there."
By the end of the 2019 season, Harrison told reporters he was contemplating retirement after he played through a multitude of injuries and "wasn't able to ever get back to the form I'm used to."
Harrison, who turned 31 in November, finished last season with a career-low 49 tackles.
The veteran defensive lineman is a free agent after being released by the Lions in what he called "a mutual agreement" on Feb. 25. He had two years remaining on his deal after signing the $11 million extension in August.
"It's nothing against the people of Detroit, the city or anything like that," the eight-year veteran said. "I'll forever love the city of Detroit, but I just had to go try to put myself into a situation where I saw myself there for two or three years to end my career, and I just didn't see myself in Detroit for that long."