Lions QB could be a Chiefs possibility


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Jan 22, 2006
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Peterson has had eye on Harrington in past
Lions QB could be a Chiefs possibility

The Kansas City Star

Before Trent Green became Mr. Reliable, Chiefs president/general manager Carl Peterson gazed longingly at a television as Joey Harrington’s boy-next-door mug flashed on the screen. It was an hour before the 2002 draft. The realistic types in Kansas City rooted for defensive help. The dreamers begged for Joey.

Clock ticking and Mel Kiper Jr. primping, Peterson, without prompting, offered this to the reporters around him:

“He’s a heck of a prospect.”

What happened next is still causing reverberations in Detroit — the Lions made Harrington their No. 3 pick, the fans made him their eventual goat, and now, four years later, Joey is on his way out of town, and Kansas City appears smack-dab in the middle of the hunt for his services.

Peterson wouldn’t say as much Monday, shortly after new Lions coach Rod Marinelli told reporters that Detroit was moving on without Harrington, even though the Lions haven’t officially made a move to get rid of him. Just back from a scouting trip, Peterson was in no mood to chat about the Harrington buzz.

But the Chiefs are in serious need of a backup for Green, and Harrington’s name undoubtedly will be tossed around in the coming days as Detroit president Matt Millen waits to meet with his quarterback, who’s in Thailand.

Harrington, reportedly turned off by a poisonous locker room and comments by cornerback Dre’ Bly, who blamed him for Steve Mariucci’s firing, wants to go somewhere he feels comfortable. In Kansas City, he’d have at least two immediate ties to the coaching staff. Quarterbacks coach Terry Shea is a former Oregon quarterback and played with Harrington’s father, John. Defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham also was on the 1967 Ducks squad with John Harrington.

When Harrington visited Kansas City four years ago before the draft, Shea met him at the airport wearing his old Oregon letterman jacket.

“At this point, he’s under contract,” Chiefs coach Herm Edwards said. “You never talk about guys under contract. You get into that, and you’re setting yourself up for a no-win situation. But, no, we haven’t really even talked about it.”

Harrington went 18-37 as a starter for the Lions and was the subject of constant abuse from the fans and even his teammates. Many observers wonder whether a change of scenery — plus a year or two as a backup — would rejuvenate Harrington, whose pocket presence and anticipation made him a 2001 Heisman Trophy finalist.

Marinelli, who initially threw his support toward Harrington as the 2006 starter, told reporters in Detroit on Monday that the Lions were “going to go in a different direction with Joey.”

“I made the decision,” Marinelli said. “I think it’s best for our team. We’re moving on at this point without Joey.”

Marinelli said that Millen and the Lions’ personnel department would decide whether Harrington will be traded or released. He’s due a $4 million bonus in June and could be traded before the draft later this month.

Peterson, in the past, hasn’t been one to give up draft picks very easily. But would he for a young quarterback who caught his eye four years ago? Green, who has been durable for five seasons, turns 36 this summer. His longtime backup, Todd Collins, bolted for Washington last week.

It’s doubtful the Chiefs will stay pat on their backup situation with just Damon Huard, Casey Printers and James Kilian on the roster. Printers and Kilian are considered projects; Huard has started just six games in nine NFL seasons.

This is the second time in less than a year that Harrington’s name has come up in Kansas City. Just before the start of the 2005 season, rumors swirled that Peterson had inquired about Harrington after a bizarre string of quarterback injuries.

“That is absolutely false,” Peterson said at the time.

For now, for once, the Chiefs are staying mum about Harrington.

■ T-RICH UPDATE: Fullback Tony Richardson, who hinted last week that he was getting closer to an agreement with Kansas City, apparently isn’t that close. He was in Minnesota on Monday to visit the Vikings. Richardson, a two-time Pro Bowler, has spent 11 seasons with the Chiefs.

■ NO ALLEN: Scratch cornerback Will Allen off the Chiefs’ defensive wish list. Allen has signed with Miami.
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