Tommie Harris

Tommie Harris

refer to caption

Harris at a promotional event in Chicago
No. 91, 96, 90
Position: Defensive tackle
Personal information
Date of birth: (1983-04-29) April 29, 1983
Place of birth: Killeen, Texas
Height: 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Weight: 295 lb (134 kg)
Career information
College: Oklahoma
NFL Draft: 2004 / Round: 1 / Pick: 14
Career history
 * Offseason and/or practice squad member only
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Tackles: 226
Quarterback sacks: 31.5
Interceptions: 1
Player stats at
Player stats at PFR

Tommie Harris, Jr. (born April 29, 1983) is a former American football defensive tackle who played eight seasons in the National Football League (NFL). He played college football for the University of Oklahoma, and was recognized as a consensus All-American twice. The Chicago Bears chose him in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft, and he also played professionally for the San Diego Chargers. He is a three-time Pro Bowl selection.

Early years

Harris was born in Germany and raised in Killeen, Texas. He attended Ellison High School in Killeen. As a member of the Ellison Eagles, Harris became one of the nation's top defensive high school prospects, including being ranked as the No. 35 high school prospect in the nation by recruiting analyst Tom Lemming.[1] During the 1998 football season, he was a back-up defensive tackle in his sophomore year for the Eagles who were ranked No. 1 in the state of Texas and No. 13 in the nation. He was also a member of Ellison's track and field team, where he participated in the shotput.

College career

While attending the University of Oklahoma, Harris played for coach Bob Stoops's Oklahoma Sooners football team from 2001 to 2003. He is one of the very few players in OU history to start every game of his true freshman season. He was a two-time All-Big 12 selection, and was recognized as a consensus first-team All-American in 2002 and a unanimous first-team All-American in 2003.[2] In his junior and final season as a Sooner, Harris won the Lombardi Award as the nation's best lineman in 2003. He was named to the Sports Illustrated All-Decade Team in 2009.

Harris turned down the Playboy All-America Team photo shoot in 2002. When asked about it in Sports Illustrated, he said, "I have four sisters and no interest in promoting Hugh Hefner's agenda. What would I be saying by being in that magazine? That I'm poor and am looking for publicity? That I like girls in swimsuits? I don't even like pornography."[3]

Professional career

2004 NFL Combine

Pre-draft measurables
Ht Wt 40-yd dash 10-yd split 20-yd split 20-ss 3-cone Vert Broad BP
6 ft 3 in 295 lb 4.68 s 4.31 s 31 in 9 ft 1 in 29 reps
All values from Central Florida Pro Day.[4]

Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears selected Harris in the first round (14th overall pick) of the 2004 NFL Draft, and he played for the Bears from 2004 to 2010. In 2004, he finished second in balloting for the Defensive Rookie of the Year award. In only his second NFL season, Harris was selected for the 2006 Pro Bowl for the first time. Harris was well suited for coach Lovie Smith's version of the Tampa 2 defense, which relies on quick, mobile linemen to get pressure on the quarterback.

Harris enjoyed an excellent start to the 2006, leading the league with five sacks after four games. He was instrumental in a Week 3 victory over the Vikings, disrupting a handoff in the Vikings backfield and forcing a fumble, which allowed the Bears to score the game-winning touchdown. Furthermore, Harris was awarded the NFC's "Player of the Week" award twice in three weeks. However, in the following weeks, Harris' productivity declined. Additionally, Harris was forced to leave the Bears' Week 13 match-up against the Vikings after sustaining a knee injury. Further medical review determined that Harris had severely injured his hamstring, and he missed the remainder of the 2006 season.[5]

Despite the injury, Harris was selected to play in the 2007 Pro Bowl, and appeared on the cover of the February issue of Sports Illustrated for Kids. Without Harris, the Bears noticed a significant decline in their pass rush and run defense. Though the Bears beat the New Orleans Saints to win the NFC Championship, the Indianapolis Colts beat the Bears in Super Bowl XLI.

Harris saw limited action throughout the subsequent preseason, and only made a brief return during the final game of the preseason against the Cleveland Browns. He played in the Bears' season opener against the San Diego Chargers and forced a fumble.[6] He finished 2007 with eight sacks and two forced fumbles.[7]

Harris, along with Adewale Ogunleye, Alex Brown and Mark Anderson during training camp in 2008

On June 19, 2008, Harris signed a contract extension with the Chicago Bears for $40 million over four years. It also included a $8.5 million Pro Bowl bonus, which he would receive if he made it to the Pro Bowl in 2008, 2009, and 2010. He could've made an additional $2 million based on performance. It also included $17 million in guarantees and made Harris the highest paid defensive tackle in the NFL.[8] That salary has since been surpassed by Ndamukong Suh.

Harris at Manas Air Base

Harris' role with the Bears decreased since he injured his knee during a Week 3 game of the 2007 season.[9] The injury hampered his performance throughout portions of the 2008 season, and into the 2010 season.[9] Nevertheless, Harris recorded eight sacks in 2007 despite starting in 13 games that season. On November 8, 2009, Harris was ejected just 65 seconds into the first quarter in a game against the Arizona Cardinals for punching guard Deuce Lutui in the face. He later apologized for the incident.[10]

In 2010, Harris was benched after the second week of the season.[11] Head coach Lovie Smith stated, "We have 45 guys that you can go with; we have everybody healthy right now. Just felt like we wanted to get a look at Marcus Harrison, him and Henry Melton inside, a little bit. Just performance based. Tommie's been doing everything we've asked him to do.[11]" The same week, former defensive tackle Warren Sapp criticized Harris, comparing him to "blind dog in a meat house.[12]" Harris returned to the Bears the next week, but lost his starting position. He recorded his only sack of the season in week 17 against the Green Bay Packers.

On February 28, 2011, Harris, along with linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer and offensive tackle Kevin Shaffer, was released by the Bears. During his seven seasons with the Bears, Harris played in 104 games, recording 213 tackles and 28.5 sacks.[13]

Indianapolis Colts

On August 2, 2011, Harris signed a one-year contract with the Indianapolis Colts, but was released on September 3.

San Diego Chargers

Harris signed with the San Diego Chargers on September 28, 2011.

NFL stats

2004 CHI 16 43 58 15 3.5 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2
2005 CHI 16 32 37 5 3.0 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2006 CHI 12 28 34 6 5.0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
2007 CHI 16 36 41 5 8.0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2008 CHI 14 37 41 4 5.0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2009 CHI 15 24 29 5 2.5 0 1 0 1 6 6 6 0 1
2010 CHI 15 13 17 4 1.5 0 2 9 0 0 0 0 0 1
2011 SD 13 13 13 0 3.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Career 117 226 182 44 31.5 5 7 0 1 6 6 6 0 5



Harris is now the co-owner of the Texas Outlaws of the new Fall Experimental Football League along with fellow NFL alum Eric Bassey.


In 2012, Harris' wife Ashley died of either a stroke or brain aneurysm.[15]


  1. Tom Lemming's Top 100 for 2001
  2. 2011 NCAA Football Records Book, Award Winners, National Collegiate Athletic Association, Indianapolis, Indiana, p. 11 (2011). Retrieved June 23, 2012.
  3. Kelly King, "Tommy Boy: Standout Oklahoma DT Harris reveals his 'other' side," Sports Illustrated (August 6, 2002). Retrieved June 20, 2012.
  5. Bears make plans without Harris
  6. Wilson, Bernie (2007-09-09). "San Diego 14, Chicago 3". Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved 2007-09-10.
  8. Daily Herald | Bears reward Harris with $40M extension
  9. 1 2 McClure, Vaughn (2009-10-23). "Tommie Harris 'doubtful' for Bengals game". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2009-10-24.
  10. Chicago Sun-Times | Tommie Harris-Deuce Lutui tussle began on play before ejection Retrieved 2010-12-10.
  11. 1 2 Jensen, Sean (2010-09-28). "Bears deactivate Tommie Harris, bench Zack Bowman". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2011-01-05.
  12. "Tommie Harris can't even find the meat house now". NBC Sports. 2010-09-28. Retrieved 2011-01-05.
  13. Hayes, Neil (2011-03-01). "End of line for Bears' Tommie Harris". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2011-03-13.
  14. "Tommie Harris Stats". ESPN Internet Ventures. Retrieved 26 March 2014.
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