Seahawks legend Steve Largent on hitting Mike Harden: 'Payback is hell'

Joe Fann
NBC Sports Northwest

About a decade ago, Steve Largent was on a bus headed for a charity golf tournament put on by Bengals Hall of Fame tackle Anthony Munoz. Seattle's Hall of Fame receiver recalled the instance on the latest Talkin' Seahawks Podcast.

The woman sitting behind him tapped him on the shoulder and introduced herself.

"My former husband – you played against him," she told Largent.

She then clarified that her ex-husband was Mike Harden, a name that obviously drew a reaction out of Largent.

"I said, ‘Oh yeah, we played against each other,'" Largent said wryly.

Most of you know the background here, but it's worth running through real quick for those who might not.

In Week 1 of the 1988 season, Largent's 13th year in the NFL, he was the victim of a vicious (and illegal) hit over the middle, courtesy of Harden. The Broncos defensive back had his forearm heavily taped up and drove it into Largent's facemask in a violent collision.

Largent was out cold before he hit the ground.

The Seahawks legend would get the last laugh, though. He got his revenge in December of that same season when Seattle hosted Denver in Week 15. Harden intercepted Dave Krieg and began to return the pick up the field. He made a move toward the left sideline and got absolutely blindsided by Largent.

Largent not only rocked Harden to the Kingdome turf, but he forced a fumble and then recovered the loose ball himself.

"People ask me, did I know who it was when I hit him? I say, ‘I knew exactly who it was, and I knew exactly what I was trying to do, and I did it,'" Largent said. "They say in the NFL that ‘payback is hell,' and that's what I was thinking when I got to hit him at that point."

If you watch the replay of the play, you can see the receiver jawing at Harden on his way off the field.

"I was jawing at him big time, but I don't remember what I was saying," Largent said, laughing.

Largent ended his Hall of Fame career with 819 catches for 13,089 yards and 100 touchdowns (all of which were NFL records at the time of his retirement), but he refers to the hit on Harden as his all-time favorite play.

Harden never called to apologize after his hit in Week 1, and the two never discussed Largent's revenge, which leads us back to this bus ride a decade ago on the way to Munoz' golf tournament.

Largent found out that the woman behind him still kept in touch with Harden from time to time.

"You just tell Mike that ‘what goes around comes around and no hard feelings,'" Largent told her.

Apparently she relayed the message because Harden called Largent a week later.

"That was the only conversation I've had with Mike," Largent said. "We kind of cleared the air and went on our way."

Largent shared that he has eight fake teeth due to Harden's cheap shot back in 1988. Apart from wishing he wore a mouthguard during his time in the NFL, the Hall of Fame receiver seems awfully content with how that story played out.

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You can listen to the full podcast with Steve Largent here.

Seahawks legend Steve Largent on hitting Mike Harden: 'Payback is hell' originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest

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