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Green Bay will always hold special place in Tim Harris' heart

Former All-Pro linebacker cherishes his time with the Packers

Former Packers LB Tim Harris
Former Packers LB Tim Harris

GREEN BAY – Tim Harris had just sat down for breakfast with his lifelong friend and former college teammate, Harold Beane, when the former Packers linebacker's phone rang last fall.

It was that call, the one informing Harris he was going into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame, and instantly, the breakfast order changed.

"The breakfast turned into a shot of tequila," Beane laughed.

On Thursday, Harris and former Packers receiver Greg Jennings took their place among the greatest players in team history during an induction ceremony inside the Lambeau Field Atrium.

A two-time All-Pro, Harris started 70 of the 76 games he played for the Packers from 1986-90. During that five-year stretch, Harris tallied 55 sacks, six fumble recoveries and two safeties.

Arriving as a fourth-round pick out of Memphis, Harris moved from a standup outside linebacker to defensive end at the behest of former Packers head coach Forrest Gregg. It turned out to be a perfect fit.

Harris was selected to the Pro Bowl in 1989 after establishing a team single-season record with 19½ sacks. More than 30 years later, Harris' single-season mark remains the most by a Packers defender since sacks became an official statistic in 1982.

When asked about the achievement, Harris still gives a lot of the credit to Packers defensive lineman Robert Brown, whom he played alongside during all five of his seasons in Green Bay.

"He did a lot of game stunts with me," Harris said. "He helped free me up a lot. He actually texted to congratulate me today and I told him, 'If it weren't for him, I wouldn't be in this situation today.'"

It was at Memphis Harris grew close to Beane, whom he's known since they were 17 years old and played alongside on the Tigers' defensive line.

After a two-year stretch in which Memphis laid claim to being the nation's top-ranked defense, Beane was with Harris when he got the call from the Packers that he was being drafted in the fourth round (84th overall) in 1986.

During Harris' 10-year NFL career, Beane remained one of his best friends and supporters. To this day, the two are like brothers. So, it was no surprise after that breakfast ended last year, Harris asked Beane to present him for induction into the Packers Hall of Fame.

"A lot of the things with Tim have been first experiences (for me)," Beane said. "First time I drove a Porsche … first time I've been to a Super Bowl, everything. A lot of good experiences."

The Packers went 29-49-1 during Harris' time in Green Bay, but there were some big moments. The 6-foot-6, 265-pound pass rusher still fondly recalls the fabled "Cardiac Pack," whose 10 victories in 1989 represented the team's most in 17 seasons.

When it comes to old NFC Central rivals, Harris enjoyed every matchup he had with the Minnesota Vikings and longtime offensive tackle Tim Irwin.

"We lost a lot of wars, but we (also) won a lot of battles as far as I'm concerned," Harris said. "I knew I used to beat up my offensive tackle a lot by the end of the day. Just didn't get the wins we wanted."

Getting the call to the Packers Hall of Fame was special to Harris, who received his commemorative football on Wednesday evening. Being back in Green Bay this week for his induction stirred a lot of positive memories.

"I got my start here. I learned a lot of adversity when I was here," Harris said. "(When I) see the stadium, it makes my blood race."

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