Harrington chooses country over cousin

Updated: September 9, 2004, 8:31 PM ET
Associated Press

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- It took Joey Harrington about one second to choose between red, white and blue -- and blood.

Joey Harrington
J. Harrington
Padraig Harrington
P. Harrington

When the Ryder Cup starts next week at Oakland Hills in suburban Detroit, Lions quarterback Joey Harrington will be rooting for his cousin, Padraig Harrington, to play well for the Europeans in a losing effort against the United States.

"I've got to go with my country," he said quickly, and with a grin. "It's like having a friend on the team you're playing against. If I had a friend on Chicago's team, I'd hope we won, but that my friend played well."

Joey Harrington does not know every detail of his family tree, but said Padraig Harrington is an Irish cousin on his father's side.

"My great grandparents are both 100-percent Irish," he said. "They came through Ellis Island, went to Montana, built roads from Boise to Portland (Ore.), then stopped in Oregon because it was very green and that reminded them of Ireland."

The Lions drafted Joey Harrington with the No. 3 pick overall in 2001 and despite a poor surrounding cast, he has shown signs of promise.

His cousin is No. 8 in the world rankings, Europe's highest-ranked player, who once joked about his football-playing relative.

"It's terrible," Padraig Harrington said. "I'm not even the top sportsman in my family."

Even though the famous Harringtons will be separated by about 20 miles next week, they might not see each other much.

"I talked to him and his wife last week just to touch base before they came over," Joey Harrington said. "Padraig said he'll be pretty busy, but I'll definitely have his family over. And, I'm planning to go watch the practice session on Tuesday.

"I offered him tickets to our game, but he's got something better to do."

When Joey Harrington is playing Houston at home on Sept. 19 in Week 2 of the NFL season, his cousin will be competing in the final day of the Ryder Cup matches.

Joey Harrington said he only has watched his cousin compete twice in person, both times at the Masters.

"I've tried to get him to play Pebble Beach so we could play in the Pro-Am together," he said. "But I guess a lot of guys over there don't like to fly to the other side of the world to play bumpy greens."

While Joey Harrington was getting ready Thursday for Detroit's opener on the road against the Bears, his cousin was getting ready for the Ryder Cup by playing at the German Masters.

Just days after laser eye surgery, Padraig Harrington broke his slump with a 6-under-par 66 for a one-stroke lead in Germany.

Padraig Harrington has struggled in recent weeks. He tied for 45th at the PGA Championship, followed by 74th at the NEC Invitational, then missed the cut two weeks ago at the BMW International Open.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

ALSO SEE