It's hard to believe a 2-time All-Big 10 safety who was a part of four Rose Bowls and two Super Bowls didn’t have football on his radar until high school. Mike Harden loved track growing up and his speed was impressive. So much so, when he was in 9th grade, his track coach (who was also an assistant football coach at the high school) had him run for the head football coach. It took two 40-yard dashes for the coach to proclaim Mike was his new starting free safety.
He learned the game quick and by the end of high school had multiple big-name schools knocking on his door. He chose Michigan where he turned heads on the football field and graduated with a Political Science and Communications degree. He wouldn’t need the degree for a while because the Broncos drafted him in 1980 and Mike found himself in a defensive backfield with Louis Wright, Billy Thompson and Steve Foley. For 9 seasons he taunted Broncos opponents at cornerback, safety and free safety racking up 33 interceptions, 4 touchdowns and 11 fumble recoveries. In 1989, he was cut and picked up by the Raiders where he had 5 picks and 3 fumble recoveries over 2 seasons.
Mike’s body told him it was time to be done after the 1990 season and he tried a variety of professions including the restaurant business and real estate. He also started to live a little too large and got into legal trouble for fraud. While serving time for the felony charge, Mike realized he needed to head in a different direction. He got his master’s degree and for 8 years counseled people dealing with addition at the Serenity at Stout Street Foundation. He’s completely retired now and serves on the board of the Denver Broncos Alumni Association.