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Rams Obtain Eagle Defensive Lineman Dennis Harrison for Two Draft Choices

September 28, 1985|RICH ROBERTS | Times Staff Writer

Hurricane Gloria hit Philadelphia so hard Friday that Dennis Harrison wound up in Anaheim.

"I'm very happy with it," the Eagles' 1984 defensive captain said of the trade that sent him to the Rams. "They're a team that's evidently a contender in their division."

So strong a contender, Coach John Robinson believes, that the 6-8, 280-pound defensive lineman--a Pro Bowl selection three years ago and the kind of pass rusher Robinson had sought since the end of last season--may be the edge the Rams need to finish ahead of the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC West.

"He can help us right away," Robinson said.

The Rams (3-0) gave up two draft choices, believed to be fourth- and seventh-round picks, in 1986.

"It's a steal," said Dick Vermeil, who was Harrison's coach for five years at Philadelphia and was at Rams Park Friday to prepare for the CBS telecast of Sunday's game against the Atlanta Falcons at Anaheim.

Robinson would have given up more--perhaps even Barry Redden, a former first-round choice who is Eric Dickerson's backup but may be expendable with Charles White now available to give Dickerson an occasional breather.

Redden has missed 2 1/2 games with a sprained ankle but is due to return to action against the Falcons.

Harrison, 29, is in the option year of his contract. He reported to the Eagles only Thursday, after a summer-long holdout.

He wasn't around when the Rams defeated the Eagles, 17-6, two weeks ago, and when the Eagles signed United States Football League refugee Reggie White last week, Harrison became expendable.

Harrison's agent, Al Mifflin of Nashville, said: "Dennis reported to the Eagles to make an attempt to get them to go on and do something, since they'd signed Reggie White. The Eagles could have gotten a lot more if they'd have done something right before they announced the Reggie White deal. Then the price goes down because everybody knows the Eagles need to deal him (Harrison)."

Harrison held out, apparently, because the Eagles' new owner, Norman Braman, gave the other defensive end, Greg Brown, a new contract paying $500,000 a year, while Harrison was earning about $200,000.

"We requested to renegotiate," Mifflin said. "While they did renegotiate, they didn't do it in a satisfactory manner. The new owner's awfully tight-fisted."

Mifflin said of the Ram trade: "I'm mighty happy about that. I assume we're not gonna have any problems with financial arrangements. We've talked to them a little bit. I'm coming out Sunday. I've been working on this since March. I'm getting ready to crack a bottle of champagne."

Harrison was among the last to learn of the trade.

Reached at a Philadelphia hotel, he said: "My phone's been out (because of the hurricane). One of the busboys down in the restaurant told me he'd heard it on the news."

He said the Eagles told him they also had talked to Detroit, Atlanta and Tampa Bay.

"They never mentioned the Rams," he said.

Harrison planned to fly to California early today and will probably play his first game against the Minnesota Vikings at Anaheim a week from Sunday. Robinson said that Harrison will be used as a pass rusher.

He had a career-high 12 sacks last season, tying him for 16th in the league.

Harrison said his best position is "left defensive end for run defense, and when the Rams go to the four-man front I've played all four positions. I enjoy playing all of 'em."

Vermeil, who drafted Harrison from Vanderbilt in the fourth round in 1978, said: "He played well for me. He's got good power and good agility. He can take the other team's best run-blocker and neutralize him."

Harrison won't have to worry about hurricanes in California.

"Yeah, but they have earthquakes," he said.

Maybe he'll cause a few, himself.

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