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Colts owner says team will release Harrison

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

By MICHAEL MAROT

AP Sports Writer

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts released Marvin Harrison, ending the star receiver's 13-year tenure with the team and breaking up one of the great pass-and-catch combinations in NFL history

Colts owner Jim Irsay announced the move Tuesday after meeting with Harrison in a final effort to re-sign the franchise's career receiving leader.

"It's a day as an owner you know eventually will come, but it's not a day you look forward to," Irsay said at a news conference. "I can see Marvin in 1996 coming in from the draft into our complex and talking to him and meeting him for the first time, and the journey began.

"As an owner, these are rare events, when you have a chance to talk about an individual who literally changed the face of a franchise,"

Harrison, who did not attend the news conference, ranks second in NFL career receptions with 1,102, the vast majority from quarterback Peyton Manning's passes. Together they helped make the Colts one of the most prolific passing teams in the league for more than a decade.

Harrison made eight Pro Bowls and earned a Super Bowl ring, and his 14,550 yards rank fourth on the NFL's career list. He is No. 5 all-time with 128 TD catches and holds all major single-season and career receiving marks for the Colts.

Colts president Bill Polian said he talked with Harrison Saturday night.

"We talked at length about all the things he accomplished here," Polian said.

"He worked so hard on his craft, always so prepared. He did every little thing it took to win," Polian said. "And he did it with quiet dignity, with superb professionalism and with a sense of contribution to the team that really is second to none. He is a Hall of Famer, no question. He's the transcendent receiver of this generation."

Harrison's agent, Tom Condon, said Monday that the Colts had agreed to release Harrison after he declined a pay cut. Harrison had the highest salary cap number of any NFL receiver at $13.4 million.

But he turns 37 in August and is coming off the least productive healthy season of his career. Cutting him could save the Colts about $6 million on next season's salary cap.

"It's a tough day for us, losing one of the all-time greats. Marvin is a consummate winner," new coach Jim Caldwell said. "I had a chance to watch him on the practice field day in day out. He's the most competitive guy I've ever seen. ... He also had a great pride in everything he did."



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