They crossed paths last winter at a presidential campaign stop in Chicago. One was a former Illinois state senator. The other would become one.
Barack Obama shook Napoleon Harris' hand and told him, "Hey, I'm watching you."
"For the president to take a notice of what you're doing back in the home state," Harris said, "that's humbling."
And an indication that the former NFL linebacker was a rising political star.
Harris was elected state senator for Illinois' 15th district in November. Then shortly afterwards, he had the chance to set his sights on Washington when Jesse Jackson Jr., the son of the famous civil rights leader, resigned his seat in the 2nd Congressional District. (Jackson pleaded guilty Wednesday to spending $750,000 of campaign funds for personal luxuries such as fur capes, celebrity memorabilia and a Rolex.)
"You don't think of a football player going into that field," said Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson, a former teammate. "But Napoleon's always been a smart guy."