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Do You Know Me?


Bernardo Harris has been the starter at middle linebacker since the 1997 season opener.

Bernardo Harris probably will not make the cover of Sports Illustrated, he more than likely will not be a lead story on a SportsCenter broadcast, but as his recent track record indicates, the starting middle linebacker will be among the leading tacklers on the Packers defense.

He is the leader of the linebacker corps. which includes George Koonce, Brian Williams, Jude Waddy and newly acquired Anthony Davis. All of whom are blue-collar type players, and that is just the way they like it.

"We feel with the athletic ability that we have that we're capable of making plays and we feel like we're great linebackers. We feel like we can play at the next level. People want to give us that blue collar theme, but we haven't really stepped up in that statistical category, the thing that people look at.

"In order for us to get recognition, to get put into that group, that is what we have to do. We have to prove not only that we can play down in and down out, consistent play, but we have to prove that we can make the big play, get the big interception, get the big sack, or score that touchdown."

Does he let the lack of attention bring him down?

No. If anything, he uses it as motivation to improve.

"You want to be given credit for what you do," he said. "A lot of times, people just see the statistics, they just see the interceptions, the sacks, and those things. A lot of times that is how people are judged if he is a great player who can compete in this league.

"I don't think anybody sits down and watches every play that a certain linebacker plays here or the elite linebackers or the so-called average linebacker, to see what they're doing, down in and down out, they only see if someone gets an interception or gets a sack, or causes a fumble. I don't think they are judged by their everyday performance."

So what does Bernardo Harris do that he should receive credit for?

How about leading the team in tackles for two consecutive seasons - 119 in 1997 and a career high 121 in 1998?

Still not a believer?

How about the Monday night game against the Steelers last season when he matched his career high of 14 tackles?

Don't I forget that performance followed a 13 tackle performance against the Lions the previous week.

Making a lot of tackles is nothing new for Harris. His junior season at the University of North Carolina, he made 90 tackles falling 5 short of the school record held by Lawrence Taylor.

The two-year starter is hungry. Not for notoriety, not for headlines, but for a return trip to the Super Bowl.

"My favorite part is playing in the big games, in front of the big crowds." Said Harris. "Since I've come to Green Bay, every game has been a great feeling. Playing at Lambeau Field is a great feeling, there is nothing like coming out of the tunnel playing in front of the fans that we have here."

Harris marvels at the loyalty of the Packer faithful, "Going on the road, being the Green Bay Packers and the success that we have had the last few years, it is a sell out almost everywhere we go. People want to come and see the Green Bay Packers."

Harris has started a tradition he hopes will not end soon, "My playing in 3 straight NFC Championships, two Super Bowls, going to the playoffs every year since I've been here. Steadily improving, it is a great feeling to play in the games and enjoy the professional football experience."

Getting back to the Super Bowl will not be easy on Harris. He has a new defensive scheme to learn, a new coaching staff to work with, as well as increased responsibility given to him by new defensive coordinator, Emmitt Thomas.

Under Thomas' new strategy, the linebackers will be given more freedom to play instinctively and try to make plays on their own. A challenge Harris does not shy away from at all.

"I think we have a lot of great things, our coaching staff has a lot of weapons to use. So once we learn the defense, and jel, and come together as a unit. I think we'll be an outstanding defense. The things that they have, the aggressive nature and the way that they designed, everybody has a part in the aggressive blitz package, that makes it fun. Because everybody has a chance to get after the QB, and rush and not just be strictly a cover guy."

When Harris isn't leading the team in tackles, or calling out defensive schemes, he tries to spend as much time as possible with his family, his wife Kellie, and their two sons, Bradley (5) and Blake (2). Because as he puts it, "Without their support and love, none of this would be possible."

With his work ethic, anything is possible.

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