Duron Harmon wants to 'pay it forward' to his teammates, family and the autistic community

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After winning three Super Bowls in New England, Duron Harmon wants to recreate that magic with Head Coach Josh McDaniels and the Las Vegas Raiders.

Harmon signed with the Raiders in March after starting 17 games for the Atlanta Falcons last season. Before his stint with the Falcons and the Detroit Lions, Harmon played seven seasons with the New England Patriots – the team that drafted him in 2013.

The move to Las Vegas not only pairs him back up with a familiar face in Josh McDaniels, but defensive coordinator Patrick Graham as well. Harmon, going into his 10th NFL season, is well aware that the team will depend on him to be a veteran leader in the locker room.

"Leadership can never be forced and I just try to do it from a genuine standpoint," Harmon said on the AP Pro Football Podcast. "I'm just sharing my experiences when they're asking and when the opportunities presents themselves. One thing about this league is the experiences just recycles. ... The people who are very successful in this league, their work ethic and their journey might not always be identical, but there's similarities.

"So I just try to give out the information and the knowledge that was passed on to me from those guys that helped me get to where I am, and just pay it forward and see that information I passed down gets passed down to another generation of football players eventually."

The 31-year-old has duties and responsibilities he takes even more seriously than football – being a father. Harmon has four children and describes being a father as "the greatest gift a man could ever receive."

Harmon invests a lot of time into his family, recognizing that it's "way more important than football." He also stated that "as much as I love and enjoy this game, I know there will be a time where I won't be able to go out and play football. But I'll be a father forever."

Along with football and his family, Harmon is passionate about raising awareness for autism. He wants to specialize in helping autistic children in impoverished communities whose families can't afford the best resources. Harmon's nephew is on the autism spectrum and has been an inspirational to him in the fight to raise awareness.

"I don't think I've ever met any child with autism who was similar to the other. Each case is completely different and the range of the spectrum is so big," said Harmon. "And that's why we need to continue to raise awareness to keep garnering information, keep raising awareness, keep finding new resources and new techniques.

"Each child is so different, but at the end of the day, God made us all different. I'm unique from you and you are unique from me, but we've all got to find ways to work together to make this a better and safe place for people with autism."

View the best photos from the first day of the Las Vegas Raiders' OTAs at Intermountain Healthcare Performance Center.

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