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August 7, 2010 @ 2:51 pm
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Morris Grew Up Loving Emmitt Smith, Hating Jerry Rice

Written by Scott
Reynolds
Scott Reynolds

Scott
Reynolds

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A star-studded group of former NFL players is being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday and Bucs head coach Raheem Morris is extremely interested in the selection of former Dallas running back Emmitt Smith, who is the league’s all-time rushing leader with 18,355 yards and 164 rushing touchdowns. Smith played for the Cowboys from 1990-2002 and finished his career with the Arizona Cardinals from 2003-04.

On Saturday, Morris recalled his love for watching Smith run the ball and helping to turn Dallas back into America's Team.

“My dad poisoned me – made me a Cowboy fan,” Morris said. “In 1988, they drafted Michael Irvin. In 1989 they drafted Troy Aikman. Then in 1990 they got Emmitt Smith. I was there for the 1-15 season getting bashed in school, and I was there for the 7-9 season when they started to get a better. After that, they started to win Super Bowls. And I was America’s Team all the way, from Jersey, around a bunch of Giants fans, so I argued that thing down.

“I said Emmitt Smith was the best. I argued him against Barry Sanders for the longest amount of time. I didn’t care who really was the best. I was just going to say Emmitt was the best that day. He ended up being the all-time leading rusher in this league and broke a lot of records and had a lot of amazing games. I watched a lot of those games in my room. My mom said I was a psychopath because I used to lock myself in my room. I didn’t want to sit next to anybody, talk to anybody. My high school girlfriend had to sit on the couch while I was in my room watching the Cowboys. I had issues!”

Because Morris grew up a Cowboys fan, he despised the San Francisco 49ers, which was the other dominant NFC team in the 1990s.

“I was a Cowboys fan growing up, and I can’t stand Jerry Rice because of that,” Morris said.

But as a former defensive back and a secondary coach in the NFL, Morris has a strong appreciation for Rice, a 13-time Pro Bowler who is the league’s all-time leading receiver with 22,895 yards and 197 touchdowns.

“Jerry was special,” Morris said. “I hated him because I was a Cowboy fan, but he was always fun to watch and I was a big fan of the playmaker. It was exciting. You never knew when he was going to break open a game. He was dangerous. He was explosive.

“In 2002 once I got into the league and I became a Tampa Bay Buc, people would ask me, ‘You’re not a Cowboy fan anymore?’ And I said, ‘No. They’re trying to get me fired!’ And all that stuff went out the window, and I just became just a studier of the game, watching him play, watching his craft and watching how hard he worked, even at the end of his career, was just something that was really impressive to me with both of those guys. I know they both ended in different places. One was in Oakland, well, actually, Seattle, and Arizona for Emmitt. I got a chance to play against both of those guys, and that’s always legendary. That’s always something I can look at and something I can tell my kids.”

Paul Mueller contributed to this story
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