Lions Surprise Harrington

April 20, 2002

AP Sports Writer

* Harrington Goes to Detroit In a Draft Featuring Big Guys

ALLEN PARK, Mich. - Even Joey Harrington was sure the Detroit Lionswere going to bypass him with the third overall pick in the NFL draft.

'I was unbelievably surprised,' the former Oregon quarterback saidSaturday. 'Honestly, I had been told five minutes earlier that they were goingin another direction. So, I was just about to sit down with my mom and dad andwatch the Lions pick someone else, and then I got a phone call.'

Harrington was the second quarterback picked after Fresno State's David Carrwas taken with the No. 1 choice by expansion Houston.

'I was shocked. I was caught off-guard, but I'm thrilled to be there,'Harrington said.

Lions president Matt Millen said it was very difficult to pass up QuentinJammer, who would've filled a desperate need at cornerback, but the opportunityto select a franchise quarterback won out.

'We have to have stability at the quarterback position, we just have to,'Millen said. 'It hasn't been here since, fill in the blank.'

The Lions, 2-14 last season, haven't had a quarterback play in the Pro Bowlsince Greg Landry did in 1971, and have not had long-term stability at theposition since Bobby Layne started from 1951 until Detroit won the NFL title in1957.

Since then, the Lions have used over 20 starting quarterbacks - and have wononly one playoff game.

While Millen said Harrington is the quarterback of the future, he does notexpect him to start Week 1 at Miami.

'Mike McMahon is ahead of Joey Harrington,' Millen said. 'That's justobvious. He knows the system better.'

Harrington is looking forward to battling McMahon, last year's fifth-roundpick who led the Lions to their first win after an 0-12 start.

'It will be fun,' Harrington said. 'That's part of football. Thatcompetition makes your team better.'

The 6-foot-4, 215-pounder was 24-4 as a starter at Oregon and led 10fourth-quarter comebacks. He threw 23 touchdowns with just five interceptionslast season and finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy balloting.

'He's not unbelievable in any one area,' Millen said. 'He's just really,really good in a bunch of them. And on top of that, he's got the intangibles.He's got all the things you're looking for in a quarterback. ... And thatposition is the most-important position.'

Harrington said Millen's assessment that he's not great in any one facet,but good in many, is accurate.

'I think what I bring to the table isn't necessarily all physical skills,'he said. 'I have the ability to play at this level, but I'm not a player whois going to go out and run a 4.3 or throw a bomb 75 yards down the field.That's just not my style.'

Even before Harrington's agent called him to say the Lions were going totake Jammer, the quarterback didn't think he was going to Detroit.

Harrington thought Kansas City at No. 8, Cincinnati at 10, or Washington at18 would select him. However, the uncertainty of when he would be drafted hadno bearing on his decision to decline an offer to be in New York for the draft.

He wanted to be surrounded by his family at his aunt and uncle's house inhis hometown of Portland, Ore.

'My family has been a very big part in my life. That was one of the biggestinfluences of why I stayed in-state to go to school,' Harrington said. 'Iwanted to be at home with all of them to share this moment. All the reportsthat said I thought I was slipping in the draft, so I didn't want to show up,that had nothing to do with it.'

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