Joey Harrington

American football player (born 1978)

American football player
Joey Harrington
refer to caption
Harrington in 2023
No. 3, 13
Personal information
Born: (1978-10-21) October 21, 1978 (age 45)
Portland, Oregon, U.S.
Height:6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)
Weight:210 lb (95 kg)
Career information
High school:Central Catholic (Portland)
College:Oregon (1998–2001)
NFL draft:2002 / Round: 1 / Pick: 3
Career history
  • Detroit Lions (2002–2005)
  • Miami Dolphins (2006)
  • Atlanta Falcons (2007)
  • New Orleans Saints (2008)
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Passing yards:14,693
Passer rating:69.4
Player stats at PFR

John Joseph Harrington Jr. (born October 21, 1978) is an American former football quarterback who played in the National Football League (NFL), primarily with the Detroit Lions. He played college football for the Oregon Ducks, where he earned Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year as a senior, and was selected third overall by the Lions in the 2002 NFL Draft. Unable to duplicate his collegiate success, he left the Lions after four seasons. He spent his final three seasons as the primary starter for the Miami Dolphins and Atlanta Falcons and a backup with the New Orleans Saints.

Early life

Harrington was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. He graduated from Central Catholic High School in Portland, and finished his high school career with more than 4,200 yards and 50 touchdowns rushing and passing.

Harrington's grandfather and father played quarterback for the Universities of Portland and Oregon, respectively, and upon hearing of Joey's birth, legendary Oregon Ducks' coach Len Casanova jokingly sent his parents a letter-of-intent.[1]

College career

Harrington is a graduate of the University of Oregon, and was a three-year starter on the Oregon Ducks football team. In his senior season at Oregon, he threw for 2,415 yards and 23 touchdowns, and he finished his college career with a 25–3 record (including bowl wins against #12 Texas and #3 Colorado), 512 completions in 928 attempts (55.2%), 6,911 passing yards, 59 touchdowns, 23 interceptions, and 210 rushing yards and 18 scores on 145 carries. A business administration major with a 3.23 GPA (twice earning honors with a 3.34 GPA),[2][3] Harrington's 7,121 yards of total offense rank sixth in University of Oregon history.

Harrington finished fourth in the voting for the Heisman Trophy in 2001, following a campaign for the award that included a billboard in Times Square promoting him as "Joey Heisman."[4] He earned numerous honors, including first-team All-American, Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year, and second-team honors from The Sporting News. He was one of five finalists for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award in 2001. EA Sports selected him for the cover of the 2003 edition of their NCAA Football video game series. Harrington was given the nickname "Captain Comeback" among fans for his ability to lead Oregon to victory in late game situations, accumulating a record of 11–2 in games in which the Ducks trailed or were tied in the fourth quarter.[5]

Harrington's best collegiate game was arguably the 2002 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona when he threw for 350 yards and four touchdowns and helped lead the Ducks to a 38–16 victory over Colorado. Harrington was named offensive player of the game.

Harrington's worst game was arguably the 2000 Civil War game in which he passed 24–36 for 333 yards, but threw five interceptions. Three of those interceptions were by Oregon State defensive back Jake Cookus. #8 Oregon State ultimately won 23–13 over then-#6 Oregon.

College statistics

Oregon Ducks
Season GP Passing Rushing
Cmp Att Pct Yds TD Int Rtg Yds TD
1998 2 0 1 0.0 0 0 0 0.0 0 0
1999 8 84 158 53.2 1,180 10 3 133.0 30 4
2000 12 214 405 52.8 2,967 22 14 125.4 124 7
2001 12 214 364 58.8 2,764 27 6 143.8 56 7
Totals 34 512 928 55.2 6,911 59 23 133.8 210 18

Professional career

Pre-draft measurables
Height Weight Arm length Hand span 40-yard dash 10-yard split 20-yard split 20-yard shuttle Three-cone drill Vertical jump Broad jump Wonderlic
6 ft 4 in
(1.93 m)
215 lb
(98 kg)
31+12 in
(0.80 m)
9+34 in
(0.25 m)
4.80 s 1.65 s 2.84 s 4.21 s 7.00 s 32.0 in
(0.81 m)
9 ft 4 in
(2.84 m)
All values from NFL Combine[7][8]

Detroit Lions

Harrington was selected by the Detroit Lions with the third pick overall in the 2002 NFL Draft.[9] Harrington took over for incumbent Mike McMahon late in the Lions' Week 1 loss against the Miami Dolphins and became the Lions' starting quarterback shortly thereafter, finishing that year with a 50.1 completion percentage, a ratio of 12 touchdowns to 16 interceptions, and a 59.9 quarterback rating; the Lions finished the season with a 3–13 record. He was named the 2002 recipient of the Detroit Lions/Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association Rookie of the Year Award.

Harrington's career in Detroit was largely unsuccessful. Front office mismanagement, woeful offensive line protection, lack of talent at other skill positions, and an erratic philosophical change in the team's identity to a conservative West Coast offense-oriented attack under head coach Steve Mariucci may have played a factor in Harrington not realizing his potential professionally, as well as his own play and lack of talent. During the 2003 season, Harrington joked that being "the quarterback of the Lions and the goalie of the Red Wings" were the hardest jobs in Detroit.[10]

Harrington's best season as a Lion came in 2004, when he threw for 19 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. The Lions started the season with a 4–2 record, but Harrington led the team to only two more wins the rest of the season. The Lions finished 6–10 and missed the playoffs for the fifth season in a row.

On October 23, 2005, Mariucci chose to bench Harrington in favor of veteran Jeff Garcia for the team's game against the Cleveland Browns to try to provide a spark to the team's 2–3 start. The Lions won 13–10, and Garcia rushed for Detroit's only touchdown. After yet another dismal offensive performance, Mariucci declared that Garcia would remain the starter. That marked the first time since the 2002 season that Harrington did not appear in a Lions' game, breaking a string of 37 consecutive appearances. Harrington regained the starting role the week after Garcia threw a game-ending interception returned for a touchdown in overtime against Chicago. Harrington started again for Detroit on November 13, 2005, against the Arizona Cardinals, throwing for three touchdowns without an interception in the Lions' 29–21 win. Harrington was voted by Lions fans as their Offensive Player of the Year, according to the Lions' official website.[citation needed]

Despite his difficult times in Detroit, he remained unwaveringly optimistic. In response, sarcastic Lions' fans and beat writers, who were critical of his predictable and upbeat post-game commentary as the losses continued to mount, dubbed him "Joey Blue Skies" and "Joey Sunshine".[11][10][12]

Miami Dolphins

After the 2005 season, Detroit signed free agents Jon Kitna and Josh McCown, and traded Harrington to the Miami Dolphins on May 12, 2006, for a fifth-round draft pick in 2007, after meeting performance stipulations in Miami (the pick was later traded to the New Orleans Saints). Harrington started the 2006 season as a backup behind new Dolphins quarterback Daunte Culpepper. During his tenure with the Lions, Harrington started 55 games and had a record of 18 wins and 37 losses.[13]

In 2006, Harrington did not play in the Dolphins' first four games, backing up Culpepper. Culpepper injured his shoulder prior to Miami's fifth game against the New England Patriots, forcing Harrington into the starting role. Harrington lost his first three starts, before leading Miami to a 31–13 win over the previously unbeaten (7–0 at the time) Chicago Bears. Harrington followed that game with four consecutive victories. Harrington capped off this winning streak in front of a national television audience on Thanksgiving Day in Detroit with a 27–10 victory at Ford Field against his former team. Harrington passed for 3 touchdowns and 213 yards against Detroit, compiling a passer rating of 107.4, his highest single game rating for 2006. Harrington struggled after the Lions' game. Against the Buffalo Bills in Week 15, Harrington went 5-for-17 for 20 yards, throwing two interceptions. His passer rating for the game was 0.0, the minimum possible under the complex NFL formula. Harrington was pulled midway through Miami's next game against the New York Jets, replaced in the 13–10 Christmas night loss by Cleo Lemon. Harrington did not appear in Miami's Week 17 finale against the Indianapolis Colts. Overall, Harrington played in and started eleven games, leading Miami to a 5–6 record (Miami finished 6–10 for the season as a whole).

Atlanta Falcons

On April 9, 2007, Harrington agreed to a two-year, $6 million contract with the Atlanta Falcons to compete with D. J. Shockley and Chris Redman to be the backup quarterback to Michael Vick.[14]

Harrington was elevated to starting quarterback after the suspension of Vick for the 2007 NFL season. Harrington performed well in the preseason, but after going 0–2, Atlanta signed quarterback Byron Leftwich as a possible replacement for Harrington. During the Week 3 Atlanta home opener against the division rival Carolina Panthers, Harrington completed 31-of-44 passes with two touchdowns and no interceptions for a 110.1 passer rating in a 27–20 loss. In Week 4, Harrington improved on his numbers with a 121.7 passer rating, completing 23-of-29 passes for two touchdowns with no interceptions, leading the Falcons to their first win of the 2007 season.

On March 5, 2008, the Falcons released Harrington in a salary cap move. He was re-signed by the team seven days later[15] but was again released in August after the Falcons completed their preseason schedule.[16]

New Orleans Saints

Harrington with the Saints in 2008

Harrington signed with the New Orleans Saints on September 19, 2008.[17] He was the third-string quarterback behind Drew Brees and Mark Brunell for one game against the Denver Broncos. He was released only five days later on September 24, 2008, due to increasing injuries on the Saints roster.[18] After the Saints' injury situation became more manageable, Harrington was re-signed on October 1, but was cut again on October 6.[19] He once again re-signed with the Saints on October 12, 2008, as an inactive third-string quarterback.[19]

On March 30, 2009, Harrington was re-signed to a one-year deal by the Saints. He was released by the team again on September 5, 2009.

After being cut by the Saints, Harrington would not sign with another NFL team.

Performance assessment

Harrington was first given the label of "Savior" by fans and media in Detroit - then deemed a "bust" when he did not meet high expectations. Many speculate that his premature start in the NFL, along with lack of surrounding talent, poor coaching, and questionable offensive lines have affected his performance severely. Many other quarterbacks, such as Tim Couch and David Carr, were also drafted highly and eventually lost their starting jobs.[20][21]

In 2005, former quarterback Troy Aikman wrote that Harrington "can still be a really good quarterback in this league," and does not deserve the blame for what happened in Detroit: "The focus on Joey's play has given every other player a hall pass, and that's not right."[22]

Former quarterback Phil Simms said in 2006 that Harrington got a bad rap in Detroit. "I am not a Joey Harrington basher. The quarterback can't overcome bad coaching and bad players."[23] Former quarterback Dan Marino said that he did not believe that Harrington had the necessary pieces around him in Detroit to be successful, but that he might be OK in a different place.

When Lions head coach Steve Mariucci was fired by general manager Matt Millen, Lions cornerback Dré Bly told analyst Rich Eisen in an NFL Total Access interview that he blamed Harrington for the dismissal of Mariucci.[24] Bly later apologized to the Lions, but not to Harrington.[25]

Some fingers were also pointed at the Lions' management and coaching staff. Fellow Lions quarterback Jeff Garcia publicly questioned the team's front office, saying on WXYT that "You start to question whether the organization has the people in place who can go about making the proper selections."[26] Former defensive end Howie Long said that Millen made a mistake by drafting Harrington, along with signing Garcia instead of Brad Johnson.

NFL career statistics

Year Team Games Passing
GP GS Cmp Att Pct Yds Avg TD Int Rtg
2002 DET 14 12 215 429 50.1 2,294 5.3 12 16 59.9
2003 DET 16 16 309 554 55.8 2,880 5.2 17 22 63.9
2004 DET 16 16 274 489 56.0 3,047 6.2 19 12 77.5
2005 DET 12 11 188 330 57.0 2,021 6.1 12 12 72.0
2006 MIA 11 11 223 388 57.5 2,236 5.8 12 15 68.2
2007 ATL 12 10 215 348 61.8 2,215 6.4 7 8 77.2
2008 NO 0 0 DNP
Career 81 76 1,424 2,538 56.1 14,693 5.8 79 85 69.4

NFL awards

  • FedEx Air Player of the Week – Week 1, 2003

Personal life

Harrington married Emily Hatten on March 10, 2007. They have two sons, born in 2009 and 2012. Emily is a nurse practitioner, and Harrington spoke about them opening a medical clinic to serve the homeless in Portland, after he retired from football.[27] Harrington is an accomplished jazz pianist who has occasionally performed with artists such as Jason Mraz, Blues Traveler, and Third Eye Blind.[28] On February 1, 2008, Harrington appeared as a guest chef on a special Super Bowl episode of The Rachael Ray Show.[29] Harrington is a distant cousin of professional golfer Pádraig Harrington and professional poker player Dan Harrington.[30] Harrington's brother, Michael, played football at the University of Idaho, and was also a quarterback.

Harrington was the guest on the February 2, 2008, episode NPR's Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me!, as a guest during the 'Not My Job' segment.[31]

Harrington and his family moved back to Portland after his release from the Saints in September 2009. He is spending more time with his wife and family, and the numerous charities in which he is involved.[32] He co-owned the Pearl Tavern, a restaurant in Portland's Pearl District, which opened in 2016 and closed in 2018. He is known by friends and family as “Dis kid, Harrington.”

On July 31, 2011, Harrington was struck by an SUV while riding his bicycle in Portland, Oregon. Harrington suffered a broken collarbone and a punctured lung and fractured his first two ribs below his collarbone and also got six staples in his head behind his right ear due to the accident.[33]


In 2009, Harrington worked as an NFL and college football commentator for Fox Sports Radio. In 2010, he served as a color analyst for Oregon Ducks football games on Oregon Sports Network. Currently, Harrington is a college football analyst for Fox College Football on FX and Fox. He is also a general assignment reporter with KGW Television on a part-time basis in Portland, Oregon.[34]


Harrington established the Harrington Family Foundation[35] in 2003 as a nonprofit organization with the goal of supporting youth education and activities as well as other miscellaneous benefits. Harrington's parents, John and Valerie Harrington, run the foundation.[36]

The foundation began with a portion of Joey's signing bonus with the Detroit Lions. It raises further money by selling memorabilia items and booking events. After being given the New York Times Square "Joey Heisman" billboard by the former Oregon Ducks Athletic Director Bill Moos, he proceeded to cut it up and sell the pieces for charity. All the proceeds from the sales went toward scholarships for the University of Oregon.[37]

See also

  • O (gesture), a hand signal popularized by Harrington


  1. ^ "Harrington". Sports Illustrated. November 13, 2001. Retrieved September 9, 2010.
  2. ^ Burton, Rick (March 2002). "Superior Student Athletes". Charles H. Lundquist College of Business, University of Oregon. Archived from the original on April 17, 2007. Retrieved August 19, 2007.
  3. ^ "Joey Harrington, QB - Oregon". USA Today. April 20, 2002. Retrieved August 19, 2007.
  4. ^ "Detroit Lions Site: Joey Harrington". Archived from the original on July 2, 2007. Retrieved August 19, 2007.
  5. ^ Tokito, Mike (November 4, 2014). "For former Oregon Ducks quarterback Joey Harrington, TV work is a matter of family: Media Mike Check". oregonlive. Retrieved November 14, 2019.
  6. ^ "Joey Harrington's Wonderlic Test Score". Retrieved October 29, 2022.
  7. ^ "2002 Draft Scout Joey Harrington, Oregon NFL Draft Scout College Football Profile". Retrieved October 29, 2022.
  8. ^ "Joey Harrington, Combine Results, QB - Oregon". Retrieved October 29, 2022.
  9. ^ "2002 NFL Draft Listing". Retrieved March 18, 2023.
  10. ^ a b Darlington, Jeff (October 15, 2006). "An Inspired Change". Miami Herald. Retrieved February 27, 2024 – via
  11. ^ Pope, Edwin (December 12, 2006). "'Joey Blue Skies' Harrington finds Miami niche". The Lima News. Retrieved February 27, 2024 – via
  12. ^ Henry, George (August 15, 2008). "'Joey Sunshine' smiles again". Anderson Independent-Mail. AP. Retrieved February 27, 2024 – via
  13. ^ Pasquarelli, Len (May 12, 2006). "Harrington sent to Dolphins for draft pick". ESPN. Retrieved August 19, 2007.
  14. ^ "Former No. 1 pick Harrington agrees to Falcons deal". ESPN. April 9, 2007. Retrieved August 19, 2007.
  15. ^ "Falcons re-sign Harrington one week after cutting veteran QB". Wire Reports. March 11, 2008.
  16. ^ Falcons keep Shockley, cut Harrington. Atlanta Journal-Constitution. August 30, 2008. Retrieved August 30, 2008.
  17. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on September 22, 2008. Retrieved September 19, 2008.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  18. ^ "The Sports Network - National Football League". Archived from the original on June 4, 2011.
  19. ^ a b "Joey Harrington". Archived from the original on September 20, 2008. Retrieved October 1, 2008.
  20. ^ G, Derrick. "Does Tim Couch Deserve To Be Labeled an All-Time Bust?".
  21. ^ "Huge mistakes: The 25 biggest NFL draft busts of past 15 years".
  22. ^ Aikman, Troy (September 29, 2005). "Harrington doesn't deserve all the blame". The Sporting News. Archived from the original on March 28, 2008. Retrieved August 19, 2007.
  23. ^ Simms, Phil (October 10, 2006). "Simms sounds off". South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. Retrieved August 19, 2007.
  24. ^ "Corner Bly blames Mariucci firing on QB". November 29, 2005.
  25. ^ "Homepage". August 23, 2015. Archived from the original on October 6, 2012. Retrieved June 12, 2018.
  26. ^ "Bly points finger for firing at Harrington". ESPN. November 29, 2005. Retrieved August 19, 2007.
  27. ^ Chris Colston, "Harrington may be on final chance in Atlanta," USA Today, August 9, 2007.
  28. ^ Stacey Pressman, "From the pigskin to the piano," Archived August 22, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, August 30, 2004.
  29. ^ Philip Zaroo, "Joey Harrington gets yum-o with Rachael Ray,", February 2, 2008.
  30. ^ Spousta, Tom (March 3, 2005). "Padraig Harrington goes clubbin' in USA". USA Today.
  31. ^ "Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!".
  32. ^ Eggers, Kerry (October 29, 2009). "Harrington 'incredibly happy' back home". Portland Tribune. Archived from the original on December 2, 2009. Retrieved December 6, 2009.
  33. ^ Chase, Chris (August 2, 2011). "Joey Harrington seriously injured in bicycle accident". Yahoo! Sports. Archived from the original on March 5, 2016.
  34. ^ "Joey Harrington Bio". KGW Newschannel 8. KGW. Archived from the original on April 25, 2017. Retrieved April 25, 2017.
  35. ^ "Harrington Family Foundation". Retrieved February 3, 2024.
  36. ^ Vondersmith, Jason (May 23, 2003). "Harrington lends a hand to next generation". Portland Tribune. Retrieved March 25, 2009.
  37. ^ Rovell, Darren (June 16, 2003). "Former Oregon QB auctions Times Square billboard". ESPN. Retrieved March 25, 2009.

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Joey Harrington.
  • The Harrington Family Foundation
  • ESPN profile
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