UPDATE: Chris Harris was released by the Chicago Bears on October 27, 2011 and claimed off waivers by the Detroit Lions on October 28th.
Recently traded back to the Chicago Bears from the Carolina Panthers, safety Chris Harris visited The Fast Life to discuss his return to Soldier Field.
“It was bitter sweet,” said Harris when asked about the trade back to the team drafted him in the 6th round of the 2005 NFL Draft, “I felt my time in Carolina made me a better player. Coming back to Chicago where it all began is kind of like full circle. I was more than thrilled.”
With the signing of prized free agent Julius Peppers prior to the acquisition of Harris, Chicago now counts two former Carolina Panthers amongst its 2010 defensive roster. “It’s always exciting to comeback to a team where you actually know players and then to have a former teammate from the team where I was at, it’s kind of crazy,” said Harris about his second tour of duty at Soldier Field, “We will definitely be known for defense. That’s been the goal, to get back to the ‘Monsters of the Midway’; get back to that mentality of defense in Chicago.”
In 2007, after Chicago’s Super Bowl XLI loss to Indianapolis, Harris was traded to Carolina where he accrued a league-leading 8 forced fumbles along with 96 total tackles and 3 fumble recoveries. “This defense is something I’m familiar with, it’s something I’ve be successful with,” says Harris who believes “if I can stay healthy, I can get out there and force turnovers the way I have the past three seasons. That’s what this defense is built on, turnovers and scoring.” Having spent two seasons prior in Chicago, the starting safety feels “the transition is going to be very easy. We don’t have to go searching for a nickname, it’s already there and we just got to bring that back to form.”
The Bears defense will most assuredly need to be back in Super Bowl form as it now faces “a tough division” says Harris who still feels “like we can get back to old form and win this division and make a legit run at the Super Bowl.” [The Bears did win their NFC North division going 11-5 but ultimately lost in the NFC Championship game to the rival Green Bay Packers 21-14 on January 23, 2011.]
Harris still harbors some difficult playoff memories after winning the NFC South division as a Carolina Panther. “I thought we had a great chance to go to the Super Bowl if not win the Super Bowl that year. It was frustrating. I felt like we had a great regular season that year,” says Harris after watching the team go 12-4 in 2008. “Anytime you have 10 wins in a season, that’s a pretty good season,” explains Harris, “For us to get a first round bye, and lay an egg in the playoffs, it really hurt.”
Ironically, on October 10th, Harris will return to Bank of America Stadium this season to face his former team. “Anytime you play against your former team, you have an extra boost, you want to make sure they know you’re there,” states Harris who now will have Panther wide receiver #89 Steve Smith as a cover. “Any time he’s on the field he’s a threat. I actually remember playing him when I was here in Chicago and we talked about that once I got traded to Carolina, when we played them in the playoffs,” references Harris of the Bears 29-21 NFC Divisional Playoff loss to Carolina in 2005. Of the encounter Harris recalls, “I had a nice little hit on him, hit him real good, and he held onto the ball and popped up, but he told he felt it … I am ready to go up against him. I think it will be a great match up.”
And if Harris is matched-up “with the right partner” he could “maybe win that thing,” jokingly suggests the Bears safety regarding his desire to appear on ABC’s Dancing With the Stars, “ I think I got some pretty good feet, so it would be interesting.”
Now back in the Chi, along with that deep run into the playoffs, Harris also plans to dive into some deep dish pizza, “Absolutely! Giordano’s pizza.” And along with the food Harris is also prepared for the city’s brutal winter weather, “That wind is a beast, as well as the cold weather. A lot of teams aren’t used to that. I still remember the San Francisco game back in ‘05 with the crazy wind, when Nate Vasher ran a missed field goal back. The wind plays a huge part in games up here in Chicago.”