I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait for the 2040s to roll around so I can tune in to watch Najee Harris do his thing as a color analyst/studio analyst for some broadcast network that will be partnering with the NFL (it will probably be a streaming partner by then).
Don’t get me wrong, I want Harris, the Steelers' second-year running back from Alabama, to rack up a lot of yards between now and the 2040s. I want him to break Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing mark. I want him to run right past Emmitt Smith’s career rushing mark and keep on going. And, of course, I’m contractually obligated to say that I want Harris to bring the Steelers a few more Super Bowl trophies before he hangs up his cleats.
Just get me to those 2040s, because I think Harris is going to be huge as a television personality for the NFL.
Speaking of huge, Harris was dancing with the media on Tuesday while addressing a controversy that arose the previous week: His weight.
That’s right, on May 31, Mark Kaboly, a local Steelers beat reporter, Tweeted that Harris's “new” weight was 244 pounds.
I can’t speak for anyone else, but I immediately had visions of Le’Veon Bell’s ballooned physique from his total holdout year of 2018 running through my head and stealing all of the food.
National NFL reporter, Dov Kleiman, got in on the deal by Tweeting Harris’s listed weight from his rookie year: 232 pounds.
I’m usually one to cut reporters some slack, but it seemed pretty clear to me that with Tweets like, “Look out NFL,” these guys were stirring the pot by implying that Harris may have been stirring a few too many simple carbs into his pots during the winter and spring.
Judging by the eye test, however, it was obvious Harris was the same physical specimen that he was a year earlier.
Anyway, back to Harris and his dance with the media on Tuesday.
It was a little over a minute of absolute gold where Harris explained that, while he may have been listed at 232 in 2021, he played the season at 242, a number he fully expects to be back down to again for the 2022 regular season. Where are my manners? My description does the interaction no justice. Below is a video Tweet of the media scrum, courtesy of Josh Rowntree:
While the entire 1:07 was pure gold, the quote: “Y’all making it seem like I’m fat as hell,” had me on the floor in tears. I literally busted a gut laughing (no pun intended).
I said a year ago that I couldn’t wait to see Harris engage with the Pittsburgh community, the Pittsburgh media, etc.
Harris and so many young athletes like him are a different breed from what we’ve seen in the past. They know how to interact with the media. They know how to be savvy. Dare I say, they are trained to do so, thanks to growing up in the social media age, as well as actually being trained by their colleges and agents.
Harris is a natural in front of the camera and while speaking to reporters; in fact, when I hear him talk, it’s like I just walked by two dudes shooting the breeze at Giant Eagle (or whatever supermarket giant happens to dominate your neck of Steeler Nation).
We’ve got a mixed bag when it comes to the recent crop of retired NFL players who have gone into broadcasting. While Tony Romo and Robert Griffin III were naturals from the start, Drew Brees is still working out the blandness. As for Mark Witten, he was so bad as a booth analyst for Monday Night Football back in 2018, that he unretired from the NFL the following season.
I’m guessing you’re going to be seeing less and less of that by the time players the age of Harris are ready to retire. Players that go into broadcasting in the future are going to be more polished and articulate on average than anything we’ve seen throughout the history of the NFL.
Thankfully, I can get the best of both worlds while Harris continues to do his thing on the football field—hopefully for a long time, of course.