Anthony Harris has learned that great things can come in pairs.
The safety picked off two passes at Chicago in Week 11. He also adopted two kittens after participating in a November adoption awareness event at the Animal Humane Society.
Harris enters Sunday's game against the Bears with career highs of three interceptions and six passes defended. He has played in 14 games this season and has started eight in place of Andrew Sendejo, who suffered a season-ending groin injury.
After leading the Vikings with two interceptions in the preseason, the 2015 undrafted rookie free agent recorded his first in a regular-season game against Arizona in Week 6. He nabbed two throws by Mitchell Trubisky at Soldier Field — one in the first half and one in the second — and brought his personal collector's items stamped with Chicago's wishbone C to Minnesota.
"It was a nice, cool night, felt like a football atmosphere, so I was ready to go. I was just trying to fly around and be in position to make plays," Harris said. "The first interception, I just felt like I got a good feel for what they were trying to do, got a good break on the ball, and I remember attacking it aggressively, trying to go make a statement. They had made some plays in the game, so in that moment, I was just thinking, 'Make this play, respond and show that we're here to play.' "
The Vikings fell behind by 14 and rallied late before dropping a 25-20 decision.
The footballs are just in a box at his residence and not displayed. The kittens, however, frequently appear on social media in posed and spontaneous photos. Cookie and Ella can be found on their @hooscoolcats Instagram account.
We recently caught up with Anthony for a Timeout.
Q: You had come close to interceptions before and even had a couple in the preseason. Were you confident that a pick eventually would happen in the regular season?
A: I think I've always had a good feel for being around the ball. It started back in college. I just had a good feel for the routes, got good breaks, and even fumbles, if I didn't cause it, being there to scoop it up was kind of my thing. Once I got here, the more I learned, the closer I started to get. I got a few in practice and into the preseason, I thought if I had the opportunity to play defensively I would get some pretty good chances to come up with some interceptions, so from there, it was "Keep studying, don't force it, learn more about the defense and the offenses and be in the right position."
Q: You tied Ronde Barber's mark of eight interceptions in a season at Virginia, but your draft stock was hurt because of a shoulder injury. Has every day been about validating that you belong in the NFL?
A: I kind of thought that I had the ability to be a pretty good player at this level. It was one of those things where I believed in myself and just wanted the opportunity to show everybody that I can be the player that I once was at the college level and was projected to be a pretty decent player before the injury. I felt like I kind of had to battle my way back. I felt like I had to get my body back in the position of functioning and executing.
Q: Speaking of recovery efforts, you are a partner in a cryotherapy business [CryoRVA in Richmond, Virginia]. What prompted you to become involved with cryotherapy and the business?
A: It's been a part of my recovery for about a year now. I started to venture off business-wise after experiencing it as a customer, coming in and trying to figure out how I can better utilize my time and recovery after workouts. I tried a number of different things, massages, acupuncture, and cryo was the new one for me. Originally I tried it post-workouts and then as I went along, if there was soreness, I would utilize it as an off-day thing. I would hop in there to try to get some of the soreness out, and it helped with circulation, so it kind of got me going right away. If I was a little bit stiff or sore, it got me moving pretty good. The more I used it, the more I started to believe in it, and then did more research on it. I feel like it's something that a lot of people can benefit from, not just athletes, whether it's somebody who deals with everyday pain from an old injury or age or maybe even diabetes, I know there's someone who uses it for that, [cryotherapy] is something I'd like to provide for them.
We offer a few services. We have a cryo machine that you stand in from your neck down; the height is adjustable. We also have two NormaTec stations to kind of get circulation in your legs. Most recently, we added arms, as well, and then we also purchased an isolation machine that has a hose. If you don't want to get in the full-body machine, if you have a knee or shoulder, we can isolate that area. We also use that machine for facials as well to help with those muscles in the face to help recover and decrease wrinkles over time.
Q: How did you wind up with not one but two kittens after the pet adoption event?
A: It's kind of one of those things that's always been on my mind. I kind of wanted a dog, but honestly I didn't have the time for it, with the requirements of taking care of them and being on my own and having to take them out and different things, so I put it off. After we did the event, I checked out the dogs and took a look at the cats. … The following Monday I went and was thinking, "I want to get a cat." It's a lot less maintenance, but there's still somebody there to hang with. I tried to get it Monday, and they said they'd have to spay it, so I'd have to come back Thursday. Unfortunately, when I went to pick it up, they said it had gotten sick and gotten a disease that would affect its immune system. … I [then] saw a Siamese with a light brown coat, so I decided [Cookie] was going home with me. A few weeks later, after I had a great experience with that one, I got a call that the original kitten I wanted was fine and healthy. They asked if I was still interested in adopting, and I felt bad because I still really liked that cat. Another friend told me I should get two because they liked being in pairs.
Q: Are you having a lot of fun posing them for pictures on Instagram?
A: Yeah, some of the stuff is ideas that people give me, and some of the stuff is me walking around the house and trying to capture a moment. When I posted on social media that I was getting them, a lot of people were excited, and a friend said I should make them an Instagram. I had a few people come on my page and specifically say they were following me to check out more cat pictures, so I made them an Instagram and try to keep up with it. It's a lot of fun, a lot of little cute, interesting stuff going on, so I try to share it with the people who like to see it.
Q: What's been the biggest surprise? Are they pretty social with you?
A: Yeah … there are times when they're sitting there playing with toys and out of nowhere they come kiss me on the face and then go back to playing. "Oh man, this cat really cares for me and wants to show me some affection." I think that's pretty cool. The thing I had to get used to is in the morning times I get woken up because they want to play. When I had one, she would jump up and snuggle on my face to wake me up, or even at night, she would try to go to sleep but the fur brushing against my face didn't work too well.