CFHOF Profile: Rodney Harding

r-harding1In football, the defensive side of the ball is one of the most important parts of any team as they can make the biggest impact on a team’s chances at a championship.

As the saying goes “defence wins championships” and for most teams, it has become a priority to build a good defence before building a potent offence.

Although that has always been the case as long as football has been around the fact is that for a long time the defensive side of the ball was based more on feel than facts.

Football was always about the feel as for a very long time it was all about how big or strong a player was or how big their arm was or how fast they were.

There was very little evidence to prove that anyone was actually fast or strong as it was more about looking at the player.

Then the money became bigger and teams began to look further into the players that they were investing in to ensure they weren’t wasting money.

That mainly was reserved for the offensive players though as they were easy to measure in yards gained.

Defensively the sport lagged behind on trying to quantify just how good a player could be as they lacked the stats to truly see how good a player was.

They didn’t record tackles or sacks for decades when football began and even as the stat revolution began to spark more stats they lacked behind.

They didn’t even have a named for sacks until the 1960s when Deacon Jones coined the term “quarterback sack” to define hitting a quarterback.

Before then the stat was essentially just another tackle but since then it has become one of the most important ways to evaluate a defensive lineman or a rush linebacker.

Sacks are king and can be the sole reason for someone making a hall of fame career but for years there were no stats to associate with that success.

The stat revolution continues to this day with more in-depth stats than ever but rarely are they assigned to defensive players as they still are defined on tackles and sacks.

The fact that these stats didn’t really exist years ago means that to determine a hall of famer at the time is a bit of a tougher job.

With less tape to look at and close to no stats it is up to those who saw the player actually play to say whether or not he belonged in the Hall of Fame.

The stat revolution continued throughout many players careers with more stats coming out midway through some impressive years.

Rodney Harding began his CFL career after the defensive stats became more common but he remained a player in a time when new stats were coming out.

Sacks were a big thing when he began and he luckily saw stats build up for sacks throughout his long CFL career.

He is still missing a number of major categories that could now be used to define him as one of the best defensive lineman to ever play the game.

Tackle stats are unavailable for Harding in his first two seasons while the now all-important Tackle for a Loss stats wasn’t recorded until 1992 in his eighth year in the league.

It doesn’t seem important at first glance but the fact is that those stats are important when considering a player to be one of the best all-time.

His sack totals were amazing through the years totalling 105 sacks but his tackle and tackle for a loss stats are somewhat skewed.r-harding2

With no official number for a number of years, he may have sprung up sooner to earn his spot among the greatest of all time.

That is true for many players throughout football as there is a period of time where defensive players have almost no stats to determine just how good they were.

Best estimates have some former players beating current records for sacks or tackles in an era where pass rushing wasn’t nearly as important as today.

Still, though, Harding will get his time in the sun when he officially is elected to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.

He will enter the hall as one of the most dominant defensive linemen in the game and still holds records in the league.

He holds the CFL record for most sacks in one game when he had the best game of his career against the Edmonton Eskimos getting to the quarterback five times.

He also holds the record for most sacks as an Argonaut with 92 total sacks while he played for the Argos from 1985 until 1994.

Harding established himself as a dominant force on the line throughout his career and no matter where he played.

He remained a force until the end of his career, creating problems for offensive lines throughout the league.

Despite the lack of stats, there is no question that Harding is still among the best to ever play the position and for that reason he enters the Hall of Fame.

Sometimes players are just meant to get there and no matter how much time it takes the arguments against them get tougher even without the stats.


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