Pro Bowl safety Harrison Smith wants to retire as a Viking, excited about Patrick Peterson’s arrival

Harrison Smith is by no means an “old” NFL player. But at age 32, the five-time Pro Bowl safety is definitely considered an elder statesman of a Vikings defense that is hoping to bounce back following a disappointing 2020 campaign. Smith, who recently joined the All Things Covered podcast with hosts Bryant McFadden and Vikings teammate Patrick Peterson, recalled sharing a backfield with Terrance Newman, who was 39 when he played his final down in the NFL in 2017. 

“I always called him Pops,” Harrison recalled. “Now that I’m one of the older guys — I’m not quite 39 — I don’t like when people are calling me old. So I kind of feel bad that I used to give him a hard time about it.”

Harrison showed no signs of slowing down in 2020. Last season, the nine-year veteran recorded five interceptions and 10 passes defensed. Harrison is not only hoping to make more big plays for the Vikings in 2021, he is hoping to finish his career with the team that selected him with the 29th overall pick in the 2012 draft. Harrison is entering the final year of a five-year contract. 

“Yeah,” Harrison said when asked if he hopes to finish his career in Minnesota. “I don’t know what happens at the end of careers. … Sometimes, that 10-year mark, sometimes things change. I don’t plan on that happening, but it’s the NFL. It’s always wild. But I’ll always consider myself a Viking, no matter what.”

While his contract will eventually be a point of conversation, Harrison’s focus is currently on the 2021 Vikings. He has high hopes for a secondary that also includes Xavier Woods, Jeff Gladney, Cameron Dantzler, Bashaud Breeland, Mackensie Alexander, Josh Metellus and rookie Camryn Bynum. The secondary also includes Peterson, an eight-time Pro Bowler during his time with the Arizona Cardinals

“I just didn’t know we could get him,” Harrison said of Peterson, who has the same amount of career interceptions (28) as Harrison entering the 2021 season. “We got a vet in here and not just a vet, we got Pat P in here. How many other guys can you bring in like that? They just don’t exist. So I was pumped, especially as a safety having a guy like that that understands the game and has made so many plays in his career.” 

Like Peterson, Harrison remains in pursuit of his first Super Bowl appearance. He and the Vikings came close in 2017 after defeating the Saints in the “Minneapolis Miracle” (a moment Harrison described as “absolute madness”) only to fall to the Eagles in the NFC Championship Game. When asked about what he thinks will be the Vikings’ key to success in 2021, Harrison alluded to the mindset Tom Brady has carried with him on the way to winning seven Super Bowls over his distinguished career. 

“The confidence and positivity are real things that matter, and they matter when the games are either win or go home,” Harrison said. “Things are going to go bad. They always do. You’re going to have a tough series, a tough game. But if you don’t blink when those things happen. You trust what the team is, and what the coaches bring to the table and what we all bring together. That’s how teams win.” 

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