person with leg injury

Why Does Mark Harmon Have a Limp?

“People think what you are doing is real, on a TV show,” Mark Harmon explains. When real life and television mix, it’s hard to tell what is reality and what is just good action. As a famous actor known for action-packed roles, when many fans have noticed Harmon’s limp on camera and wonder if it’s real or scripted. So, does Mark Harmon have a limp, and is it real or is it acting?

Acting Career

Harmon’s acting career includes playing secret service agent Simon Donovan in the popular television show, The West Wing and special agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs in NCIS. He’s appeared in commercials, movies and television shows, and even directed a few episodes.

In 1986 Harmon was named the “Sexiest Man Alive” by People magazine. And he has been nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor and one for Best Story Arch.

As an accomplished actor, it’s plausible that his limp is just part of the show, especially since he plays many action-oriented characters who could easily end up with a limp. However, to know if it’s real or not we have to look back at Harmon’s college football days.

Reason for Mark Harmon’s Limp

Besides acting, Harmon had an incredible college football career. Harmon played football from 1970 to 1973 at both Pierce College and UCLA. After two years at Pierce, he was recruited by several teams and chose UCLA. He came on as the new quarterback n 1972. In his time, he was an NJCAA All-American and won the National Football Foundation Award for all-around excellence.

Unfortunately, during his time playing football he did incur several injuries including a knee injury which is the reason for his limp today. It’s unclear if his injury was the reason he stopped his football career or if there were other factors involved. Ultimately, however, Harmon chose film over football.

Dealing With the Limp

Mark Harmon seems to be handling his limp well. He says, “if other people think I’m okay looking, that’s great, but I don’t see it myself. When I look in the mirror, all I see is a bunch of fake teeth and football scars.”

However, his football injuries are more than just a few scars and have caused him to take a break from acting in the past. He has been having health struggles and recently had surgery on his knee, related to his football injury. Mark Harmon has what is known as an abducted knee, which means that he has a slight rotation outward caused by an injury. After surgery he also went through a long process of rehab and physical therapy.

Yet despite being in his late 60s and having knee problems, he plans to continue working. Rumors about Mark Harmon retiring are false, as Gossip Cop confirmed in May 2020. Harmon will again join the cast of NCIS for an 18th season.


While he did not become famous for his football days, remnants of his time in the sport followed him into his acting career. Decades later, he still has a limp and fans have noticed. Despite the limp and football scars, he’s still considered one of the “sexiest men alive” and will continue working with NCIS.

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  • A storyteller at heart, Amelia is passionate about crafting stories in various formats because she loves to help people. Her stories have reached people around the world, and social media users for various organizations. She has a degree in communications with a special interest in travel and global business.

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