Right now, the CFL is two weeks into their 2021 regular season and the NFL is two weeks into their 2021 pre-season. Over 75 players are found on each of the 32 NFL rosters and close to 60 are on the 9 CFL teams’ rosters but one player that is found unemployed during this time is James Harden. No, not the basketball player James Harden who made a name for himself with both the Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets and is now with the Brooklyn Nets in the NBA. This James Harden is a 5-foot-7, 186 pound football player from the Dallas, Texas area. He plays everything from slot receiver to defensive back and as a current free agent to all CFL and NFL teams all he wants is one opportunity to prove that he can play at the professional stage.
He has played for a number of different semi-pro teams including the Texas Power, North Texas Savages, Texas Revolution, Cedar Rapids River Kings and most recently the teams in the Fan Controlled Football League, but eventhough he has played almost every position on the football field in those opportunities he has had he believes he has a lot more left in the tank. “I still haven’t played to my highest potential.” he said in an interview with Jordan Zlomislic of JZ Media, “In High School I only played a little bit. I was always hurt so I couldn’t play enough to get recruited and go to a big school, at Tyler (Junior College) I was just there as a walk on shortly and never got any film there so I’m fresh.” At 26 years old James Harden has been going to NFL stadiums across the USA to show how fresh he is. Really trying to get the opportunity he wants. Harden was found at the Dallas Cowboys facilities for the longest time. He says, “I was going to be there until I met Jerry Jones. I needed to talk to him and prove to him that I can play for his team.” Well, Harden met Jones and unfortunately for him an opportunity was not the result in the conversation. “He laughed at me.” Harden told Zlomislic, “He noticed me. I told him that I need a try out and that I am ready, but all he did was laugh and really that hurt me. I came to the stadium everyday with my sign (which read ‘What can U Lose, Just 1 shot’ with his name, phone number and positions played on it) and the fans were on my side. They wanted me to get a shot but Jerry Jones was laughing.”
Jones’ laugh hurt Harden but also motivated him. He then went on to visit a number of other teams, including the New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, New England Patriots, Houston Texans, and New York Jets and despite not getting an opportunity to try out for an NFL team, Harden was shown love by athletes and people in the football community. He was connected with NFL players who he later trained with like Dez Bryant, Laquon Treadwell, Lance Lenoir, and Rashard Robinson in the Dallas area with Craig LeBlanc’s 2 Live Late Night Crew. “They are all saying good things about me. They think I can play with them too.” he said, and it has often been the athletes that are the ones to go out of their way to help Harden. Former NFL defensive back Ray Austin signed him to the Fan Controlled Football League, Ottawa Redblacks linebacker Don Unamba of the CFL paid for his flights to Atlanta to play in the league and there has been several professional athletes sharing social media posts about James Harden, a main reason why he has 20 thousand followers on instagram and has turned into an influencer and role model for athletes growing up.
If a team were to come across that Instagram account, any posts regarding James Harden, or even saw him outside their stadium and felt generous to sign him the main question would be; what kind of player are they getting? Not many people have actually seen Harden play, simply because he hasn’t really been able to play just yet but he is loved by many on social media. He says, “I am a player that brings a lot of positive energy. I have a great work ethic and really I play with a lot of passion. Speed is one of my biggest assets on the football field, it helps me get open and I’ve gotten open against some NFL dbs with it but really I am also just a player that can play everywhere.” Harden joked, “Put me on the offensive line if you have to. I will bring it my all.”