Pro Football's Greatest Players - Cliff Harris DB
Free Safety - 1970s
1982 Edition Book by Coach George Allen with Ben Olan Published by The Bobbs-Merrill Co., Indianapolis-New York
Very few defensive backs hit harder than Cliff Harris, who played free safety and sometimes strong safety for 10 years with the Dallas Cowboys. And Harris' zest for hitting didn't end with opponents. He banged heads with teammates in practice, too. In fact, Harris' hits caused teammate Golden Richards, a wide receiver, to present him with a crash helmet equipped with a flashing red light and battery-operated siren. It was designed to warn pass catchers when Harris arrived in their patterns.
Harris, a 6-1, 192-pounder, was an example of what a through scouting system can sometimes miss. He slipped through the NFL net, probably because he attended tiny Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, not regarded as a developer of outstanding football talent. He was playing minor-league football with the Southern California Rhinos in 1970 when the Cowboys heard about him and signed him to a free-agent contract.
He became a starter in his rookie season, but his pro career was interrupted when he was into the armed service. He was back a year later and regained his first-string job with an impressive training camp. He remained a starter for the remainder of his career, teaming for a long time with strong safety Charley Walters to give Dallas the best deep-pass coverage in the league.
Harris' philosophy of defense was that if a receiver got hit hard enough, he'd be looking for the defender the next time down the field and might not concentrate quite as well on making the catch. It seemed to work.
For his career, Harris intercepted 29 passes and recovered 18 fumbles. He played in six Pro Bowl games and was a four-time All-Pro selection. An integral part of five Dallas Super Bowl teams, Harris left the Cowboys following the 1979 season. footballhistorian.com - Archives - Professional Football History