Harrison’s career path after football will include mystery

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              This undated photo provided by the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum, shows a bobblehead featuring former legendary NFL referee, Ed Hochuli, who retired following the 2017 NFL season. Hochuli officiated for 28 seasons in the NFL from 1990 to 2017, spending 26 of those years as a referee. (National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum via AP)
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Jonotthan Harrison’s career path after football will include lots of mystery.

The New York Jets center has his sights set on helping solve murders as a larger-than-life homicide detective.

“It sounds strange, but I’m a real puzzle-type guy,” the 6-foot-4, 300-pound Harrison said with a smile. “I have all kinds of puzzles on my phone, puzzles at home, I do picture puzzles. It’s just something that, to me, is a form of a puzzle and it really sparked my interest.”

The 27-year-old Harrison is in his fifth NFL season and second with the Jets. He’s expected to make his fourth straight start at center for New York on Sunday at Buffalo.

While his focus is on playing for plenty more seasons, Harrison has some backup plans for the future. First, he wants to pursue something in athletic training, perhaps working with offensive linemen or general personal fitness. But, then his “quick Plan B,” as he calls it, is to get involved in homicide detective work.

“I’ve spoken to a few people involved with law enforcement,” he said, “and they’ve told me they can get me on a fast track through the academy and whatever else is necessary to get into that field.”

Harrison’s dream of someday being a detective began during his college days at Florida, where he first majored in psychology but was having trouble passing a required course. After two tries at passing, Harrison consulted with his academic adviser, who suggested he switch to a double-major in criminology and anthropology because he already had taken several of the pre-requisite classes.

“I was like, ‘Let me try some courses and see what’s up,'” Harrison recalled. “That’s when I made the switch midway through college and actually realized how much I enjoyed the problem solving involved with homicide detective work. I think it started with just a little detective work initially.”

Harrison took a homicide course and researched the murders of five students in his college town of Gainesville, Florida, in 1990 — a case that made national headlines.

“I learned some more about murders around the U.S.,” Harrison said, “and I was like, you know what? This is actually kind of interesting and a lot goes into figuring out a crime scene, figuring out how someone was murdered or why they were murdered — just bigger-picture than, oh, somebody was obviously murdered here.”

He has become an avid fan of pretty much any crime drama he can catch on television, hoping to someday carry out his own investigations to solve important cases.

Harrison’s mother, Jennifer, remembers a time years ago when she and her husband were reading through a manual to put together some furniture — and there was young Jonotthan behind them assembling it on his own.

“You’re talking about a 9- or 10-year-old and he’s putting the whole thing together,” Jennifer Harrison said while laughing. “That’s always been Jonotthan. He has always been one to be planning and figuring out how to fix things. There’s no challenge he won’t attack.”