Erik Harris Recalls Unlikely Path From Undrafted To NFL Team Captain

Erik Harris has been named team captain for the Las Vegas Raiders, and his journey to this point has been winding, to say the least

Zach Gelb
September 10, 2020 - 11:51 am
Erik Harris Raiders

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Erik Harris has been named team captain for the Las Vegas Raiders, and his journey to this point has been winding, to say the least. 

The 30-year-old walked on at California University of Pennsylvania, a Division II school, and went undrafted in 2012. Then he spent a summer as a corn mixer at a potato chip factory and another summer as an overnight supervisor at UPS while finishing a degree in criminal justice.

But now? Now he’s the captain of an NFL team.

“Any stat game, any contract I sign, it’s all great,” Harris said on The Zach Gelb Show. “But being named a team captain from your coaches – and really your peers, the guys in the locker room that I grind every day with – that means more to me than [stats or contracts]. Just to have the respect of those guys, I try to lead by example. I try to serve my teammates as Christ would serve.”

Harris played for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the Canadian Football League from 2013-15 before making it to the NFL. He played for the New Orleans Saints in 2016 and part of 2017 before latching on to the Raiders that September. He’s been with the organization ever since. 

Being named captain was a surreal experience.

“Every year when they announce the captains, in the back of my mind, I’m like, ‘Okay, here it comes, here it comes,’ and then [my name isn’t said],” Harris explained. “And then when [Coach Gruden] started saying who the captain was and started [saying], ‘This guy worked at the potato chip factory’ – I was like, ‘There’s no way he’s about to say my name.’ When he said my name, the butterflies I had and just the excitement I had and guys coming up to me saying, ‘Congrats, well-deserved, much-deserved’ – it really meant a lot to me.”

Harris was in college when he found out his wife was pregnant with twins. The pregnancy was unplanned.

“I grew up in a single-mother home, and my dad was never around,” Harris said. “My biggest fear was not being able to provide for my family, and at that point, I was getting my degree but I didn’t really necessarily know what I really wanted to do.”

Harris almost joined the Air Force, but then a tryout in Canada changed his life.

“That was the route I was going to take,” Harris said of the military. “Then I paid $80, went to that CFL tryout, and it all worked out.”