'All hell broke loose'

Shack was out of football for a few years, raising his four kids with wife Vickie. But then he got a call in 1987 from Ray Perkins, then Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach and Shack's former offensive coordinator with the Chargers. "Shack was such a class act when I was in San Diego that, when I needed a scout in Tampa, I thought of him first," Perkins says. "He was a hard worker who could read people as well as he could read talent. He's one of those four or five friends you want to take into battle with you."

Wherever Harris has worked as a personnel executive -- with the Bucs, the Jets, the Super Bowl XXXV champion Ravens, the Jaguars and the Lions -- he has spread the gospel of opportunity.

Now 66, he's not as spry as he used to be, but he still looks as if he could take a snap or two. And he's still proud of the quarterback he once was. "I remember my first year on the Rams' roster," he says. "Harold Jackson went on a deep route to the post, and I overthrew him because he had slowed down. He came back to the huddle and told me, 'I did not know you could throw it that far.' And I told him, 'Harold, you are not out of my range until you run into the man yelling, "Peanuts! Popcorn!"'"

Harris didn't play long enough to make the Hall of Fame, but he was in Canton in 2006 when one of his former fans was enshrined. "I invited Shack and Marlin Briscoe and Doug Williams because they meant so much to me," Warren Moon says. "You know, we have this little group now called the Field Generals. We want to be there for the African-American quarterbacks coming along, to tell them of our experiences and advise them. Being a quarterback is one thing. Being an African-American quarterback is another."

After the talk at the Archives, Harris is asked whether the players he has found and developed know about his own story.

"Not really," he says. "But that's not important. What's important is that Warren Moon is in the Hall of Fame, that Doug Williams won a Super Bowl. What's important is that millions of kids turn on the TV now and see Cam Newton and Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson and all these great young quarterbacks.

"It should never have been about being black. It should always be about being better."

End of story.

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