Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Former Gator Percy Harvin seeks return to elite status

in Sports/Top Headlines by

Few players at any position have ever come out of the University of Florida with more raw talent than Percy Harvin. This guy was bound to be a star in the National Football League for years to come.

His three seasons in Gainesville provided plenty of highlights for NFL scouts to consider. It wasn’t until the end of his freshman year when the SEC, Florida State and the nation saw what he could do.

In a 21-14 win against FSU in Tallahassee, he ran for 86 yards and his first rushing touchdown on only four carries. In the 38-28 SEC Championship Game victory against Arkansas, Harvin rushed for 105 yards and a touchdown on only six carries and caught three passes for 62 yards and a touchdown. In the national championship game, he was an important part of a balanced attack that led to a 41-14 drubbing of Ohio State.

Harvin’s sophomore and junior years added to the legend. He had 1,622 all-purpose yards in 2007 followed by 1,304 in 2008. On the downside, Harvin was hampered by nagging injuries that limited his output. Still, he ended his college career scoring at least one touchdown in his last 15 games.

As the Minnesota Vikings’ first-round selection in 2009, Harvin was brought in to provide another weapon to complement All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson and provide some juice to their kickoff return team. Objective achieved.

He had 790 receiving yards and six touchdowns along with two kickoff returns for touchdowns. For all of this, he was named the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year, earning him a trip to Honolulu for the Pro Bowl.

His first three years he was a triple threat as a rusher, receiver and kick returner. He was almost a weekly highlight reel of his own.

His frequent bouts with migraine headaches and other injuries began to take their toll. He missed two games in 2010 due to headaches and in 2012 was limited to nine games due to shoulder and ankle injuries.

He played one game for Seattle in 2013, but by last season other problems developed around Harvin. Rumors of locker room tensions led to a fight between Harvin and teammates Doug Baldwin and Golden Tate.

Not long after, Harvin wound up with Coach Rex Ryan and the New York Jets. When Ryan left New York for Buffalo this season, Harvin came with him. His new focus is to leave the trickery behind and concentrate on catching the ball.

“I want to be known as Percy Harvin the receiver,” he told Monday Morning Quarterback. “I’m not that gadget guy anymore. I’m not what I was over the last few years.”

Harvin missed several training camp practices due to a hip injury, but seems genuinely excited about the Bills’ prospects in 2015. He was especially pleased Tyrod Taylor beat out former FSU star E.J. Manuel for the starter’s job.

“He’s going to be tremendous for this team,” Harvin said. “With the weapons we already have, I think teams have to worry about that, but now they have to worry about his legs too with the 4.4 speed he puts on the field.”

Taylor may be an important piece of Buffalo’s puzzle, but so is Percy Harvin. If his 27-year-old legs can do on occasion what they did just a few years ago, he can make Taylor even better and the Bills a playoff contender. They already have a playoff defense

This may be Percy Harvin’s last chance.

Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at [email protected]

Latest from Sports

Go to Top