Damon Harrison has been working two jobs this offseason.
The first is with the Giants, where he is the starting All-Pro defensive tackle. The second is at home, where he is the father of a five-and-a-half-week-old son, Damon Harrison Jr.
“Snacks Junior, baby!” Harrison said proudly.
Finding time to pursue both responsibilities has been challenging, but it’s something that Harrison has been able to make work. His wife, Alexis, has been at many of the practices so Harrison gets to cuddle with his namesake after some of the workouts. The 350-pounder all bulked up with football pads holding a son roughly the size of a football is a sight to see.
Then, each night, after the Giants’ meetings have concluded, Harrison drives 25 minutes home, spends about 45 minutes with his family, and then drives 25 minutes back to the team hotel in time for bed check.
“Every free moment that I get I have to dedicate that to getting home and helping my wife, who is taking the majority of the responsibilities now that we’re in training camp,” he said. “She gets all the reps.”
That routine changed a bit on Tuesday when the Giants broke training camp and veteran players were allowed to check out of the hotel.
“Now I have to kind of go in there and offer some third-down assistance whenever she needs it,” he said of easing Alexis’ workload.
Harrison has four children.
“This is not my first go-around,” he said of fatherhood. So it’s not the life-altering experience it can be for a first-time dad. He had two children when he was an undrafted rookie trying to make the Jets’ roster in 2012, Skyping home every night to his family in Iowa, not sure if he’d be cut that day, not sure where he’d be playing or even living by the time the season began. So this is nothing. But he’s secure here with the Giants, entering the second year of a five-year deal that pays him $46.25 million.
His perspective from those early days remains unchanged.
“I still look at [football] the same way I looked at it the very first day I got here,” he said. “Nothing is promised, nothing is guaranteed. You have to go out there and work like everybody else.”
Harrison, though, has a slightly different routine for that work than some others.
“I’ve been at the hotel, so I’ve been avoiding it a little bit,” he said of having a newborn and preparing for an NFL season at the same time. “I’ll be up at 3, 4 and 5 in the morning. And be to work at 8.”