ST. PAUL, Minn. — David Harris hasn’t contributed much for the Patriots this season, but the former Jets linebacker is happy to be in position to win his first Super Bowl ring.
Harris, 32, who was released by the Jets in a surprise move last June, played in only 10 games for the Patriots in the regular season and had 16 tackles and 1 ½ sacks in a limited role. He hasn’t been active in the posteason. Even so, that’s good enough.
“I don’t play much, but that’s what being on a good team is all about,” Harris said Monday at Super Bowl LII Opening Night. “Everybody has to buy in. It’s a team like I’ve never been on. Everybody has bought in, and everybody has one goal and that’s to win, no matter how you do it. Nobody cares about individual roles.”
Harris said he prepares as if he’s going to play — “I just have to be ready if my number is called” — but Bill Belichick hasn’t found much of a role for the veteran linebacker. Harris signed a two-year, $5-million deal after being released by the Jets, including $3.375 million this season.
“When I got released, there were about five or six teams that were interested in me, and four of them were playoff teams last year,” said Harris, who didn’t name the other teams. “But I felt like this was the best place for me. My career is all about winning. I made the right decision.”
Harris said it was difficult at first to deal with being released by the Jets, who drafted him in the second round in 2007.
“For the first couple of days, it was weird not having a job, not having a team,” he said. “But I knew that if there was a team out there that would be interested in me, eventually I would sign. My agent [Brian Mackler of SportStars] told me to relax. There are teams out there that need a player like you. I was unemployed for about a week, got a call from [Mackler] asking me what I thought about the Patriots. It was a done deal. I’m happy I’m here.”
Harris said he hasn’t approached the coaching staff about getting an increased role in the defense.
“I’m a player. The coaches coach, the players play,” he said. “Whatever they ask. You have to buy in. There’s no egos here in this locker room and everybody just cares about winning. Of course everybody wants to play, but everybody can’t.”
Harris, who publicly criticized the Jets after being released, in large part because it happened so late in the offseason, said he has kept tabs on his former team and was impressed by their improvement in 2017.
“I’ve kept up with them, because I know what type of work they did in the offseason to try to turn it around,” he said. “Unfortunately, I wasn’t there, but they surpassed people’s expectations, the media’s expectations. Those guys worked their butts off in the offseason, and it showed. They’re just going to keep continuing to build on that, and we’ll see.”
Does Harris expect some Jets fans to root for the Patriots because he’s now in New England?
“Who knows? Who knows?” he said. “I’m not answering that.”
Harris knows it will be an emotional day on Sunday, even if he won’t have a direct impact in facing the Eagles.
“I’ve never experienced it, but this is why all of us play the game, to make it to the Super Bowl and hopefully win it,” he said. “It’s something you dream of as a kid, being in this position right here.”