The things we don’t know about Indianapolis Colts’ All-galaxy wide receiver Marvin Harrison are a lot, and that air of mystery has long played into those golden hands.

Remember the Super Bowl pep rally inside the RCA Dome 15 months ago, the one where Harrison’s teammates practically had to drag No. 88 to the microphone?

Everyone short of the dome’s custodial workers and Ron Meyer had voiced their gratitude to the blue-clad faithful, yet Harrison came off as legitimately reluctant.

His words to the cheering fans served as the first time many of us — nay, the majority of us — had ever heard Harrison’s voice. And that breakthrough moment didn’t come until after the final game of his 11th season in the NFL.

Harrison is the league’s modern-day version of Barry Sanders, albeit playing a different position. Spectacularly gifted athletes who, despite being the best at what they do, become extremely uncomfortable after the helmets come off and cameras are rolling.

And since we know next to nothing about Harrison the person when he’s cashing paychecks in our own backyard, how he spends his time during his offseason months qualifies as an ever larger question mark.

Not that it’s any of our business, mind you. It’s not.

However, as money-spending Colts fans, we take comfort and pride knowing our favorite athletes, the Mannings, Harrisons, Waynes and Freeneys, are doing things the right way on and off the field.

Harrison always grades an A+-plus in this arena, which is why people coast to coast were stunned earlier this month when hearing the six-time Pro Bowler had been questioned by Philadelphia police following a shooting near a bar Harrison owns.

While it’s human nature to jump to conclusions, to unfairly categorize Harrison as something he’s not based solely on a news bulletin, don’t in this case.

Unless evidence to the contrary surfaces, Harrison is no Pacman Jones or anywhere close to the same troubled ZIP code. His rap sheet should therefore continue to read as follows: 1,042 receptions, 13,944 yards, 123 touchdowns and one of those brutally ugly yellow Hall of Fame blazers five years after he decides to retire.

Harrison, by representing Indianapolis and the football franchise it pulls for with class, has stockpiled far too much goodwill around here for us to see him in a negative light.

Allow Philadelphia law enforcement to do its job. If Marvin Harrison did something of an illegal nature, I’m quite certain it knows where to find him:

Immediately south of the teflon-roofed building soon to be torn down.

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Keeping with the Colts, I like the flavor of their 2008 regular-season schedule now that the NFC Central is taking its turn in the rotation.

Opening Week 1 against Chicago to open Lucas Oil Stadium the night of Sept. 7 should make for great television ratings. The way I see it, fans won’t realize the Bears stink until at least Week 6.

A game at Minnesota the following week should be a good test in a hostile environment. Same holds true for Indianapolis’ Oct. 19 date at Green Bay against the Favre-less Packers.

The latter opens an extremely taxing seven-game stretch for the Colts, who get home games against New England and Houston and play road dates at Green Bay, Tennessee, Pittsburgh, San Diego and Cleveland.

If the Colts make the playoffs, you know they didn’t back in.

Mike Beas’ columns are published three times each week. He can be reached at mike.beas@heraldbulletin.com.



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