Getting Traded Was a True Miracle for One Football Player

No athlete likes to be told he's going to another team. But for running back Jerome Harrison, it may have saved his life.

by - Posted on Oct 21, 2011

Jerome Harrison on the field with another football player

Two weeks ago, we talked about a recent spate of animals crashing the gate at sporting events. This week, the sports world is again abuzz about a miraculous series of events ... a trade that may have saved a football player's life.

Jerome Harrison is a running back, currently with the Detroit Lions. Before he signed with Detroit, he was a backup for the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles dropped him earlier this season, after signing another running back, former Miami Dolphin Ronnie Brown, a first-round draft pick and an experienced back in the "Wildcat" offense, which the Eagles offense often resembles. For the Eagles, it seemed like a logical move.

What was more unexpected was what happened earlier this week. The Eagles decided they'd rather have Harrison after all. They traded Ronnie Brown to Detroit to get him back. There was one advantage for the Eagles, it seemed, even if it was a small one—they also picked up a low-round pick in next year's draft.

But there was a greater advantage for Harrison.

Before the trade could go through, both Brown and Harrison had to undergo team physicals to make sure there weren't any undisclosed injuries and that both players were in football shape. Brown passed with flying colors.

Harrison didn't.

When the initial reports came in that the trade had been voided, Detroit fans and Brown himself were up in arms. What was the problem? Did Harrison eat too many donuts while sitting on the bench for Detroit? That's how some players failed physicals in the past; they were just out of shape.

This wasn't the case with Harrison, however. The Eagles' doctors found him to be in great shape. Then they asked if he felt anything was wrong that he wanted them to check out. Harrison mentioned he'd recently had some bad headaches. The doctors took him for additional tests. It was only then that they noticed an abnormality.

Harrison had a brain tumor.

According to news reports, the tumor is now being treated and Harrison's long-term prognosis is good. But one shudders to think what could have happened without the trade. What if the Eagles had simply kept Harrison from the beginning, or decided a low-round pick wasn't worth giving up the talented Brown? Would Harrison have ever mentioned the headaches to his team doctors without being called in for a physical? Football players are notoriously tough ... my old high school football coach had a saying when one of us took a bit too long to get up after a tackle: "Are you hurt or are you injured?" Meaning that if we only felt "hurt," we should keep on playing. Harrison's tumor could have easily gone undiscovered all year ... and then it might have been too late to do anything about it.

We may never get inside the head of football's general managers to understand why they make the transactions they make. But we do know that very often, seemingly bad things—like getting traded—can be turned into good. That's a job I believe belongs to the most important General Manager of them all.

Have you experienced a stressful or frustrating moment in your life—only to find it led to something wonderful? Tell us your story.

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