5 things to know about new Packers DL Damon Harrison

GREEN BAY – It’s “Snacks” time in Green Bay.

The Packers officially have claimed Damon “Snacks” Harrison off waivers. The ninth-year defensive lineman has 494 tackles, 24 quarterback hits and 11 sacks in 123 regular-season games with 111 starts.

Here are five things to know about the Packers’ new defensive lineman:

1. Damon Harrison is recognized as one of the top run-stuffers of his era.

The 6-foot-3, 339-pound defensive tackle made a name for himself clogging the middle in New York (Jets and Giants) and Detroit, tallying 436 tackles (263 solo) from 2013-18. He was named first-team All-Pro after starting all 16 regular-season games in 2016 for the Giants, registering a career-high 59 tackles and 2½ sacks. Pro Football Focus named him the league’s best run-defender in that season, crediting him with PFF’s best run-stop percentage between 2013-16. While Harrison has only 11 career sacks, one came against Aaron Rodgers on Oct. 14, 2019, with the Lions. Harrison’s first NFL sack came against future Hall of Famer Tom Brady on Oct. 20, 2013.

2. Mike Pettine was his first NFL defensive coordinator.

Harrison signed with the New York Jets as an undrafted free agent out of William Penn (Iowa) University in 2012. Pettine, Green Bay’s defensive coordinator, held the same post in New York during Harrison’s rookie season. While Harrison only saw action in five games that season, he became an impact player for the Jets the following year – starting 111 of 112 games the next seven seasons.

3. Success didn’t come easy for Harrison.

He’s had to work for everything he’s earned in the game of football. Harrison played basketball before a knee injury led to him joining the football team during his senior year at Lake Charles Boston (La.) High School. Harrison was a captain and team MVP on both sides of the ball but received no scholarship offers. He briefly attended Northwest Mississippi Community College but was cut due to a scholarship squeeze. “At that point, I had been cut from my middle school football team twice, which is why I never played (until my senior of high school),” Harrison told the Detroit Free-Press in 2018. “So to me, at that time, it was like being told I wasn’t good enough again so I was done with football. I didn’t care about the eligibility or nothing like that. I just wanted to go home.” He worked overnight shifts stocking shelves at Wal-Mart in Lake Charles before one of his former NWCC assistants, Steven Miller, called him with a scholarship offer to William Penn University, an NAIA school in Oskaloosa, Iowa. Harrison is one of three William Penn graduates to play in the NFL. He runs the “Damon Harrison I Told the Storm” foundation to empower the disadvantaged youth of Harrison’s playing city and the youth that reside in the state of Louisiana by providing enriching activities and personal development that expose youth and families to greater opportunities that will enhance the quality of their lives.

4. Everyone, and I mean everyone, calls him “Snacks.”

Even Harrison’s mother, Bruncella, addresses her son by the nickname he was given during his rookie year with the Jets in 2012, by then-head coach Rex Ryan and defensive line coach Karl Dunbar. It’s stuck with him ever since. Harrison even uses it as his handle (@snacks) on Twitter.

5. Harrison owns a unique distinction in NFL history.

When the Giants traded Harrison to the Detroit Lions for a fifth-round pick on Oct. 25, 2018, it led to him becoming the first defensive lineman in the NFL since 1930 to appear in 17 games in a single season. He played seven with the Giants before being traded to Detroit and playing the final 10 games in 2018. He put it to good use, leading all interior defensive linemen with 81 tackles that season.