Those who are most unhappy with the NFL's new and more stringent contact policies say that Roger Goodell is turning the NFL into a flag football league. If you want to get the real read on that, you may want to ask defensive back Victor "Macho" Harris, who has seen time in each league.
Selected by the Philadelphia Eagles in the fifth round of the 2009 draft out of Virginia Tech, Harris played in 15 games in his rookie season and was cut by the team on Sept. 4 of this year. Between then and his recent signing with the Washington Redskins, Harris played in the Fairfax County Flag Football League, near his hometown of Highland Springs, Va.
And according to Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post's must-read D.C. Sports Bog, Harris wasn't going up against a bunch of weekend warriors with beer guts in this league -- the Fairfax League has four divisions, plays 8-on-8 on a regulation field, and has featured contributions from many Division I football players.
Harris had many high school friends in the league, and being a bit at odds after his release, turned observation into participation in a hurry. Contact is allowed at the line of scrimmage, which separates it from some other types of flag football, and Harris was able to star on both sides of the line with a game-winning touchdown catch for his team, the Novocaine.
Signed by the Redskins on Tuesday, Harris will be placed into service immediately -- safeties LaRon Landry(notes) and Anderson Russell(notes) won't play against the Minnesota Vikings this Sunday. Landry did not make the trip to Minnesota and isn't expected to play with his Achilles injury, and backup Russell is out for the season with a torn ACL he suffered playing in Landry's place in last Sunday's win over the Tennessee Titans. He's obviously delighted to be with his hometown team.
"Just watching these past 10 weeks, watching these guys go hard every Sunday, I've just been dying to get back out there with them," Harris told Comcast SportsNet on Tuesday night. "So now that I've got this opportunity, especially at a place that I've been dying to be at, this is like a dream come true."
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By the way, Harris' "Macho" nickname isn't a case of egotism. I was one of many who asked him about the name at the 2009 Scouting Combine. "My father said that I was very, very challenging when I was 2 years old," he said. "Riding my tricycle over people's feet and stuff like that around the house. So he just didn't want to name me a regular name, he wanted to name me a masculine name, a nickname, so he came up with ‘Macho' and it has stuck with me ever since."
Can Harris stick in the NFL? The Redskins' defense has been an extreme disappointment this season, and the injury situations certainly haven't helped. He'll never have a better chance.