They let the big guy with the duffel bag cut to the front of the line. Rank has its privileges.
Rookie quarterback Chandler Harnish had flown back north for the Indianapolis Colts' Fan Fest at Meijer on Illinois Road, but he had no time to swing by his rural Bluffton home. So he asked his father Ron (the aforementioned big guy) to bring a few things by.
Father and son, who don't get too much time together, shared a brief embrace, and then it was back to the business of signing autographs for Chandler Harnish.
“I've had a great time,” he said of his life since being drafted by the Colts. “You have your ups and downs. You have your good days and bad days. But all in all, the people I've got to meet, the friendships I've been able to create, it's one of those situations you'll never forget.”
Chandler Harnish grew up a Colts fans, predating his days as a standout quarterback at Norwell High School and later, Northern Illinois University.
Now he's living a dream, and it's nonstop. He and his fellow Colts rookies were scheduled to finish their on-site workouts today, then it's on to Aurora, Ohio, for the NFL's rookie symposium. The symposium is four days of briefings on life in the NFL, including speakers such as Michael Vick and Adam “Pacman” Jones.
From there, Harnish will be heading to the Mr. Irrelevant festivities in Newport Beach, Calif., a few days of fun to honor the last pick of the NFL Draft.
Harnish is embracing it all.
Right now, he's one of three quarterbacks still on the Colts roster, along with unsigned top draft pick Andrew Luck and veteran Drew Stanton. The Colts have not said whether they will keep three quarterbacks on the active roster, but it can't be a bad sign that they sent Harnish – along with rookie defensive tackle Josh Chapman – to represent the team in Fort Wayne.
Harnish said he can't believe how much he's learned over the course of rookie mini-camp, organized team activities and veteran mini-camp.
“I don't think you can really even measure it,” he said. “It's been leaps and bounds in understanding the playbook, the different nuances of what (offensive coordinator) Bruce Arians wants to do. And then just technically working with my quarterback coach Clyde Christensen.
“We've done so much together, put in a lot of hours and seen a lot of great strides. I'm happy about it, but I'm not anywhere near satisfied. I'm excited about the work we need to put in yet.”
As Harnish fights to earn a spot on the team, he says there can be some pressure, but it's largely self-imposed.
“Some days you feel pressure because you're not prepared,” Harnish said. “I felt pressure a couple days because I was not mentally focused. After I really started to understand the playbook and got in the film room and started to learn from the other quarterbacks, some of that pressure goes away and turns into more of an exciting fun thing.”
Harnish plans to embrace the Mr. Irrelevant activities with the same enthusiasm he brought to camp and even on his stop in Fort Wayne.
“Normally, it's about an hour-and-45-minute drive home,” he said. “This was a 27-minute flight – a perk of the business. It's great to get out here and shake hands with fans and connect with the community.”
He also got a chance to touch base with his dad, the duffel bag of necessities a perk from home.