Reliving the legacy of one of the most utilized Swiss-army knives: Percy Harvin

Tribute to Percey Harvin

By: Jeremy Trottier

Arguably one of the more underrated players to date, and one of the more interesting players as well, we have Percy Harvin.  Most people who have watched the NFL intently for awhile have seen Percy’s 87 yard kickoff return touchdown in Super Bowl XLVIII.  However many do not remember the legacy he left behind for players to follow due to his variety of different skill positional play.  

In this article, I will be reliving the three main components of his career, his rushing, receiving, and returning.  For each part I will bring up his career totals in the respective category, as well as some plays that show off his skills at them.  


To be completely fair, his rushing was probably what he was least known for of the three sides of his game.  With that said, he had some impressive breakaway type plays during his career while taking the handoff.  His longest career rush was for 51 yards in 2014, which was rather controversial as he was believed to step out of bounds during this run.  

Regardless, his capabilities in the rushing game were extremely strong for someone who primaried as a receiver.  He utilized the jet sweep to his advantage as his raw speed got him to the edge almost immediately and then he could turn the corner and be gone.

Overall in his career, his rushing stats looked like this:

  • 146 rushes
  • 927 yards (12.4 YPG, 6.3 yards per attempt)
  • 40 first downs, 5 touchdowns, and as previously mentioned his longest rush was 51 yards (if not counting this one, it was 39 yards)

Certainly nothing to scoff at, considering this was not his primary focus as a player, and he was not given the ball a ton in the backfield.


What he did when not on special teams was as a receiver mostly, and his numbers show this.  In his only eight years in the league, he had a significant amount of receiving yards, almost 500 a season roughly, and that was when he was not necessarily being targeted a large amount.  

His best year from a receiving standpoint was in 2011, in his third professional season he almost had 1000 receiving yards (967) and six touchdowns, as well as a 71.9% catch rate percent.  Overall, compared to a true WR1 in this era his numbers may seem relatively mediocre, but combining this with the fact that he took the large majority of kick returns as well as rushing at times shows its true colors.

His receiving statline over his career is impressive nonetheless, accruing the following stats:

  • 353 receptions on 519 targets (68% catch rating)
  • 4026 yards with 11.4 yards per reception
  • 22 touchdowns, 178 first downs, and 7.8 yards per target
  • Longest career reception is 53 yards

Kick Returning

Finally, we have arguably his most notable contributions to his teams, that being special teams returns.  He never returned a punt in his NFL career, but he sure did return the kickoff with some of the best.  As mentioned before, likely his most notable play, at least in my eyes, was his 87 yard return touchdown in the Super Bowl, which was quite the spectacle to witness.  

His career stats as a return man are very, very impressive.  Here are the totals for his career:

  • 152 kick returns 
  • 4127 kick return yards (9080 All Purpose yards)
  • 5 kick return touchdowns, 105 yard return is his longest
  • Notable mention: only returned one kick in 2013, and it was for 58 yards

To close up, Percy Harvin was one of the few players in NFL history to be able to do these feats in all three categories of football.  Despite his relatively short lived career, he definitely made the most of it and left a lasting impact on football that cannot and should not be forgotten.

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