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Indiana releases wide receiver Harrison

THE Indianapolis Colts released Marvin Harrison on Tuesday, ending the star receiver's 13 years with the team.

Colts owner Jim Irsay grudgingly honored Harrison's request to be released after meeting him in a final effort to re-sign the franchise's career receiving leader.

Harrison would have counted US$13.4 million against the cap in 2009, the highest of any National Football League receiver. Although Indianapolis wanted to restructure Harrison's contract, Polian said there was no feasible way to do it. Agent Tom Condon said Harrison declined a pay cut.

He was second in NFL career receptions. He turns 37 in August and was coming off the least productive season of his career in which he was not injured. Cutting him could save the Colts about US$6 million on salary cap.

Team officials turned the news conference in Indianapolis to announce Harrison's release - the receiver didn't attend - into an emotional tribute to one of the most identifiable players in the franchise's Indianapolis era.

They took turns recounting stories that stretched back more than a decade. Irsay's halting words at the start and team president Bill Polian's reddened eyes at the end were indicative of how hard it was to let go of one of the best receivers in NFL history. "I've always treasured the time I've had with him because I respected him so much as a person," Polian said.

The move was made because Harrison's price was too steep.

Harrison is the second member of the Colts' original triplets - Edgerrin James and Peyton Manning were the others - to depart.

"It will be strange to line up under center and not see No. 88 out on my right," Manning said in a statement issued by the team. "He is a Hall of Fame receiver, I am proud to have played with him."

With three-time Pro Bowler Reggie Wayne and Anthony Gonzalez ready to make up for Harrison's absence, the Colts couldn't afford the luxury of keeping three former first-round picks.

Over the past two seasons, Harrison hasn't played up to his usual standards. He caught 1,102 passes for 14,580 yards and 128 touchdowns - all rank in the NFL's top five this season.


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