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First Playoff Game Something To Cherish For Seahawks DE Shelby Harris

Eight years into his NFL career, Shelby Harris never played on a team with a winning record, let alone made the playoffs, but in his first year with the Seahawks, Harris ended that drought.


As reporters crowded around the locker of veteran defensive end Shelby Harris on Tuesday, receiver Penny Hart loudly announced that it looked "like Michael Jordan in the Last Dance" drawing a big laugh out of Harris. 

Harris, who just wrapped up his first regular season with the Seahawks, was more than happy to take a bit of teasing from a teammate, and to put up with a larger-than-usual media scrum, however, because he was in the middle of discussing his first trip to the playoffs nine years into his NFL career. 

"It's something I've always wanted in my career, and something I've never been able to get to," Harris said. "It's not an individual thing, it's a team thing, and I wouldn't want to do it with another group of guys."

Harris, who came to Seattle as part of the trade that sent Russell Wilson to Denver, has started 15 games at defensive end, missing one due to injury and one due to illness, and made big contributions in run and pass defense. He has also provided veteran leadership along with players like Al Woods and Bruce Irvin on what is otherwise a pretty young defensive front. 

"He's a smart player," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "The experiences that he's had, he has grown from. He can talk about the style of play and the style of other teams and the settings when you go to another place that he's been a couple times—Kansas City, he had a good feel for how that was going to go. And he's been willing, like Bruce (Irvin) has been willing to share and be open about it, and it has been helpful for us."

Prior to joining the Seahawks, Harris began his career in Oakland in 2015, playing on a 5-win team and a 7-win team, then after bouncing around with a couple of teams in 2016, never appearing in a game, he caught on in Denver where he eventually became a starter. And while Harris found individual success, starting 43 games over the past three seasons, he never enjoyed team success, with the Broncos never winning more than seven games during his five years there. 

So as he watched Detroit beat the Packers on Sunday night to secure Seattle's playoff berth, Harris was naturally a little stressed out about the result, but he was also enjoying the moment, knowing he not only had never been to the playoffs, but had never even headed into the last week of the regular season with anything at stake.

"There was no chance at the playoffs," Harris said. "So it's been a whole completely different year. It's amazing, it's been a great ride. It's still surreal. My emotions about that moment are still being processed. I'm ready to go play this game, but I've never been in a situation like that—last week of the season, even a chance, none of that. It was all cool to even be in that situation."

While most people viewed the trade with Denver as a move that would help get the Broncos over the top with Wilson joining the team, it didn't take Harris long after arriving in Seattle to realize that the Seahawks were going to be in the mix even after trading away their Pro-Bowl quarterback. 

"It's crazy how the expectations were flipped," Harris said. "In Denver, I was Super Bowl bound, and here it was, 'Oh, they got Geno, they're not going to do anything.' And it's just like, one, how disrespectful it was, because at the end of the day, we're all pros here, we all get paid. We wouldn't be here if we weren't good players. It was blatant disrespect going into the season that Seattle was getting, that we all were getting, but everything flipped." 

Harris added, "I have nothing but love for Denver, but things just happened to work out."

If you've spent even a little bit of time around Harris, you've seen the joy he brings to just about any situation, so it comes as no surprise that he's enjoyed his first year in Seattle even if he wasn't expecting to be here prior to that trade. And after a 9-8 season, his first with a winning record, put Seattle into the playoffs, Harris is enjoying himself now more than ever. 

"I would describe it as fun," Harris said of his first season in Seattle. "I've had a great time. I like Seattle, I love the people I play with, the people I work with, and I feel like I've just had a lot of fun out there, I'm a lucky guy, I get to play football for a living, so I enjoy every moment of it.  

"I've always had fun, but it's different because this is truly the first season I've ever won. You always have fun, but to have fun and be winning is a whole different animal."

Of course, now that Harris has reached the postseason with his new team, he's not about to be satisfied with just being there, he wants to make is last. 

"It's something I cherish," Harris said. "But we want more."

Wiener dogs raced at Lumen Field as part of halftime entertainment when the Seattle Seahawks faced the Los Angeles Rams on January 8, 2023. Mayo took home the gold. Rally, the corgi dog winner of the Corgi Cup, made a special appearance for a race between the two champions.

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