Damon Harrison spent the first three weeks of training camp on the non-football injury list last summer, when he said in a new podcast he was trying to orchestrate a trade to a new team.
Harrison, who was released by the Detroit Lions in February, said on the "Green Light" podcast with former NFL player Chris Long that he never felt comfortable playing in Matt Patricia's defense and had to get out of Detroit even though he respects Patricia as a coach.
"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 told Long. "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."
Harrison played last season only after signing a one-year contract extension that paid him about $2.2 million more than he was scheduled to make in 2019.
He had a down year with 49 tackles, his lowest total since his rookie season, and said he was worried about health problems his wife had with gallstones during camp.
"Mentally I was just out of it, man," he said. "I couldn't focus on football. I was too busy trying to get caught back up with everything. It was a rough training camp for me, the roughest training camp of my career, and I just spent a lot of time just pondering my future."
Harrison said his issues with playing for the Lions started about the time he learned of his trade to Detroit.
The Lions traded a fifth-round pick to the New York Giants for Harrison in October of 2018. And while he immediately helped improve the Lions' run defense, he said he never was comfortable with the scheme.
"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."
An All-Pro nose tackle in 2016 with the Giants, Harrison said the Lions wanted to use him primarily as a three-technique defensive tackle. He ended up playing a variety of roles in his 25 games in Detroit, "but it was something that I wasn't comfortable with."
"I had some success doing it (in 2018), but the next year, this past year, I think it kind of came back to bite me in the ass," he said.
After dealing with an assortment of injuries last fall, Harrison said after the season he was contemplating retirement.
Patricia said at the NFL combine in February that Harrison's release was "best for the team," and Harrison said on Long's podcast that he hopes now to play again this fall.
"It's nothing against the people of Detroit, the city or anything like that," Harrison 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."
Visit the Detroit Free Press at www.freep.com
Be the first to know
Get local news delivered to your inbox!