RB Damien Harris Retires At 27

On Instagram today, former Patriots and Bills running back Damien Harris made the announcement that he would be retiring from the NFL. It’s a short, five-year playing career for the 27-year-old from Kentucky, but it’s one he can look back on with pride.

Harris entered the NFL after a four-year collegiate career at Alabama. After sitting behind Derrick Henry as a true freshman, Harris took over lead back duties for the Crimson Tide, rushing for 2,040 yards and 13 touchdowns over the next two years. Increased roles from Josh Jacobs and Najee Harris meant decreased production for Damien as a senior, but he still led the team in carries and yards. He left Tuscaloosa with two rings denoting national championships.

As a third-round rookie for the Patriots, Harris saw very little action behind Sony Michel, James White, and Rex Burkhead during Tom Brady‘s final season in New England. An injury to Michel and a new offense led by Cam Newton allowed Harris to take lead back duties in his sophomore season. In his third year, with a rookie Mac Jones, Harris delivered his career-defining season, rushing for 929 yards and an eye-catching 15 touchdowns, all while a rookie Rhamondre Stevenson also got his share with 606 yards and five touchdowns. A bigger role in Stevenson’s sophomore season meant a reduced role for Harris, who was hampered with a hamstring injury early in the season.

His rookie contract over, Harris signed a one-year deal with his first team’s division rival, the Bills. Buffalo brought Harris in to serve the same RB2 role he had played behind Stevenson but with James Cook now taking RB1 snaps in front of him. Unfortunately, in mid-October, Harris suffered an awkward-looking stinger that created a scene immediately reminiscent of Damar Hamlin. While Harris remained conscious, he was ruled out with a neck injury and taken to the hospital for further testing. He was placed on injured reserve and wouldn’t return for the remainder of the season.

It’s unclear whether or not this serious neck injury has anything to do with Harris’ decision to hang up his cleats. Perhaps, in the near future, Harris will disclose the reasons behind his decision, but for now, he used the text in his Instagram post, rightfully, to thank his coaches, trainers, teammates, and family. His post ends with a promising “y’all will be seeing me soon,” perhaps hinting at a future role in coaching or the like.

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