May 11, 2006
Colorado Crush Offensive Specialist Damian Harrell, who played wide receiver at Florida State in 1995 and 1997, put his name next to another AFL record last weekend when he set a new single-season total touchdown mark in the Crush’s 61-56 loss at the San Jose SaberCats. Harrell, in his eighth AFL season, bested the previous record of 51 total touchdowns set by Albany’s Eddie Brown in 1996 and matched by Orlando’s Barry Wagner the following season. Harrell now has 55 total touchdowns on the season after catching four last Saturday.
Harrell currently leads the AFL with 147 receptions, 1,859 receiving yards, and 55 receiving touchdowns. If he finishes the season leading all three categories, he will become the fourth player to win the “Receiving Triple Crown” joining Brown (1997, 1999), Calvin Schexnayder (1998), and Kevin Swayne (2001).
The following is a list of the top five single-season touchdown totals in AFL
YEAR NAME TDS
2006 Damian Harrell 55* 1996 Eddie Brown 51 1997 Barry Wagner 51 1999 Eddie Brown 49 2004 Marcus Nash 49 *Through Week 15 of 2006
Colorado Crush co-owner John Elway has seen a fair share of talented receivers through the years. So when the Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback said Harrell had “the best hands I’ve ever seen,” it resonated.
“That’s huge for me, especially coming from a quarterback who won two Super Bowls,” Harrell says. Harrell has made a name for himself in the Arena Football League with his penchant for crowd-pleasing acrobatic catches. Of all the grabs he has made, he says there is one that stands out — the 100th touchdown catch of his career.
“It was a game-winning, one-handed catch against Tampa in the Crush’s first year in the league,” Harrell says. “Tampa won the championship that year, so that was a big win for our franchise.”
The Crush is the defending AFL champion, and Harrell is the reigning Offensive Player of the Year and a candidate for the honor again in 2006. He has scored three or more touchdowns in each of 30-plus games in his first seven seasons and has had more than 40 100-yard games. There has been no letdown in 2006, as Harrell has already set and is on pace to set even more key AFL offensive records.
Though Harrell takes pride in his magnificent regular-season successes, he says his focus always is on winning another title, much more so than breaking records.
“If I said [the records] weren’t important, I’d be lying. I don’t like to chase stats, though, because it slows you down and you don’t focus on just playing,” he says.
“[Repeating as champions] is way harder than I thought it would be, but we have a great staff and a great team, so as long as we play Crush football, we’ll be OK.”
Harrell played for New England and Toronto before landing with the Crush in 2003. “The Crush saved my career,” he says. “I’ve played for three different teams, but Crush fans are the best by far. They’re football-crazy out here in Denver.”