Falcons quarterback Harrington bitterly disappointed with benching Print
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Thursday, 18 October 2007 14:00
NFL Headline News

 FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) -It's become a familiar tune for Joey Harrington.
He's named the starting quarterback. He loses the job.
This week, the Atlanta Falcons became the third NFL team in three seasons to bench the former first-round draft pick.
``This isn't going to shake me,'' he said Thursday. ``Does it hurt? Yeah, a lot, but it by no means is going to tear me down to the point where I can't do what's right for this team.''
Byron Leftwich will start Sunday when Atlanta (1-5) visits New Orleans (1-4), but Harrington still believes he could help turn the Falcons' season around if given another chance.
For now, his only consolation is knowing he endured similar situations in Detroit and Miami.
``Is it tough? Yeah. It's awful,'' Harrington said. ``It's terrible. Every week I sit here and I pour every ounce of effort I have into this team. And to be sitting here at 1-5 and now to be replaced is a difficult thing to deal with, but it's something I've dealt with before.''
First-year coach Bobby Petrino made his decision after the Falcons failed to score off three turnovers in a Monday night loss to the New York Giants.
Petrino met individually with Harrington on Wednesday morning. He called Leftwich into his office shortly thereafter.
Despite a career record of 24-48 with the Lions, Dolphins and Falcons, Harrington was stunned by the news.
``Absolutely I'm disappointed,'' he said. ``I think I'm allowed to disagree. That's fair in this situation.''
Atlanta's offense has lacked an identity since the NFL indefinitely suspended Michael Vick for dogfighting. The disgraced quarterback is expected to begin a federal prison term after he's sentenced on Dec. 10.
Petrino immediately named Harrington his No. 1 quarterback after Vick's indictment, but the Falcons' horrible start caused the coach to promote Leftwich, who went 24-20 the last four years with Jacksonville.
``One thing about playing quarterback is that a lot of times when things aren't going good, all 11 guys on the field play a part into it,'' Petrino said. ``But you know in this business that the quarterback is the one you make a change with.''
Drafted third overall by Detroit in 2002, Harrington has thrown 76 touchdowns and 81 interceptions in the NFL, but he's rarely had strong protection in the pocket.
Playing behind an offensive line that lost left tackle Wayne Gandy to a season-ending injury and right tackle Todd Weiner for up to five weeks, Harrington has been sacked 21 times. Only Detroit's Jon Kitna, with 25, has more.
Harrington accepts blame for sometimes holding the ball too long, but he also believes it's only fair to consider personnel issues as well.
``Yes, sir, which is why I haven't lost any confidence in my abilities,'' Harrington said. ``In fact, it's like I feel like I said when I came in here. This is the most confident I've been with myself at any time in the NFL. I'm going to be ready for this team.''
Harrington disputes any suggestion that's now been labeled as a quarterback who can't win.
``I'm not worried about that,'' he said. ``I know what I can do, and I know what I have done. And I'm not really worried about who thinks I can or can't do something, because I know I can lead a football team and I've showed that this year.''
 

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