||HEADLINE NEWS - Features
Monday - 12/4/2000
Harry Swayne is no fool. "You don't play 14 years in this league and not pick up a little something along the way. I believe I have grown in many ways during my career, and it has a lot to do with the people I have built relationships with," Swayne tells.
The former San Diego Charger and starting right tackle for the Baltimore Ravens has played long enough to know that players and coaches don't always last long in a business that places such high demands on a person's physical, intellectual and emotional sides. "It has been a long time, but it seems like it has flown past. I have lived and learned in this league, and then learned in order to live some more," Swayne says.
Swayne has done more than just live in this league. Harry has eaten from a pretty good table, having played in three Super Bowls, winning two with Denver in 1997 and 1998. In 1995, he played with San Diego in Super Bowl XXIX. So fond of his time in San Diego, Harry tells, "That was the most enjoyable place I've been in. And I don't take anything away from the other places I've been, but we all have our favorites. I made friendships with people in the front office and players that are still solid to this day. And playing with one of the greatest linebackers in the game, Junior Seau, who practices as hard as he plays was great. And no matter what the circumstances are during a season, Junior's passion for the game rises above."
Out of a total of 171 games, Swayne has started 110 in his career, and doesn't plan to close up shop anytime soon. Harry tells, "That is why I am still here. Because I'm still hungry. I feel I have a lot of football left in me. I believe I have the ability, but more importantly, I still have room to improve."
Entering the NFL as a defensive end (7th round, Tampa Bay) out of Rutgers University in 1987, not only has Harry had to get better, but he had to learn an entirely opposite position. "The change came at an early point in my career, which was a good thing," says Harry. Three years after his career began in Tampa; he made the switch to offensive left tackle. A year later (in 1991), Harry became completely comfortable with the position, earning a starting job with the Chargers in training camp and being voted as the Chargers' co-lineman of the Year, a testimony to his quiet leadership and work ethic.
The rest, as they say, is history. He started 74 out of the 96 games he played with the Chargers before moving on to Denver and winning back-to-back Super Bowls. He signed as a free agent with the Ravens in 1999, a team that is making its ascension into serious playoff contention.
Leadership is really the rest of the story behind why Harry is still driven to play. "Like I said before, I have learned from some great people in this league. Guys like John Cannon and Ervin Randle, who is the older brother of Viking defensive tackle John Randle, who I played with in Tampa. They really imparted a great deal of knowledge about life and football to me. The were strong Christian brothers, who were genuinely interested in helping me."
Harry is not conceited towards anyone, and knows how important relationships with his current teammates are. "The opportunity for me to help the players on this team is important. It would be stupid for me to keep all the things I've learned to myself. In any way I can, I have to pour out some of what is in my heart and mind into the guys I play with now," Swayne explains.
"This Ravens' team is similar to the San Diego team that played in the Super Bowl against San Francisco in 1994. It is very gratifying to be a part of an organization that takes the journey away from losing to building a winner. I will continue to, in whichever way possible, share all the lessons I've learned with my teammates." With his resume, it would be foolish for them not to listen.