Imagine being Alabama running back Najee Harris. You’re a national champion. You just got picked by the Pittsburgh Steelers. It’s one of the most anticipated nights of your life.
And Marcus Peters is there to trash talk you the second your name is called.
That was reality for Harris during the 2021 NFL draft. The Steelers selected him with the 24th overall pick, and the loudest player on his new team’s biggest rival was already present. As Brian Batko of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette put it, Peters was in Harris’ ear throughout his introductory Zoom call with the Steelers’ media corps.
Why was Peters at Harris’ draft party? That stems from a friendship between Harris and former NFL running back Marshawn Lynch, with whom Peters shares an agent. Harris, who hails from Martinez, California, told the San Francisco Chronicle that he wanted to assemble a Bay Area-based crew, and Peters was a natural choice as an Oakland native.
Peters’ presence was one part of a memorable night for Harris, who hosted his draft party for children at the homeless shelter where he once lived:
Now, Harris will enter the NFL as the likely starting running back for a team with Super Bowl aspirations.
Harris was widely seen as one of the two best running back prospects in the draft alongside Clemson’s Travis Etienne, who went one pick later to the Jacksonville Jaguars at 25th overall. Yahoo Sports’ Eric Edholm had Harris as the No. 20 player in the draft.
In his senior year at Alabama, Harris recorded 1,466 rushing yards and 26 touchdowns on the ground, plus 425 receiving yards and four touchdowns through the air.
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