- Mercury Morris
Mercury Morris Position(s)
Running back / Halfback
Born January 5, 1947
Career information Year(s) 1969–1976 NFL Draft 1969 / Round: 3 / Pick: 63 College West Texas State Professional teams Career stats Rushing Yards 4,133 Average 5.1 TDs 31 Stats at NFL.com Career highlights and awards
Eugene Edward "Mercury" Morris (born January 5, 1947), is a former American football player, nicknamed early on for his mercurial quickness when running with the ball. Morris was a running back and kick returner for 9 years, playing mostly for the Miami Dolphins (at first, in the American Football League, then, in the American Football Conference following the 1969 merger with the NFL). Morris is also noted for pleading no contest to felony drug trafficking charges in 1986 as part of a plea agreement.
Morris was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and attended Avonworth High School in the northwestern part of the city. Morris attended West Texas State University (now known as West Texas A&M University) from 1965 to 1969, where he was an All-American at tailback in 1967 and 1968. In 1967, he finished 2nd in the nation to O.J. Simpson in rushing yards with 1274. In his stellar year of 1968, he set collegiate records for rushing yards in a single game, with 340, rushing yards for a single season, with 1571, and rushing yards over a 3 year college career (freshmen being ineligible), with 3388.
Pro Football career
Morris excelled as both a running back and kick returner. The majority of his playing days were spent with the Miami Dolphins. From 1969 to 1971, he backed up Jim Kiick at halfback and served as the Dolphins' primary kickoff return man. In his rookie year of 1969, Morris had averaged 26.4 yards per kickoff return, leading the AFL in kickoff returns with 43 and in kickoff return yardage with 1136. Both totals would have also led the NFL. His 105-yard return was the longest in the AFL that season, and he was also one of the AFL's leading punt returners that year. In 1970, he missed some time to a leg injury, but his 6.8 yard per carry average on 60 runs was the highest in the league among players with at least 50 runs.
Super Bowl years
In 1971, despite being unhappy with his minimal playing time as backup halfback, he helped the Dolphins to their first Super Bowl, Super Bowl VI by leading the American Football Conference(AFC) with a 28.2 yard kickoff return average. During the regular season, Morris also made the most of his opportunities at running back, gaining 315 rushing yards on 57 carries for a 5.5 yard average, an average that would have led the NFL had he enough carries to qualify. That season, Morris was selected for the Pro Bowl for the first time as a kick returner, although he also was used as a running back in the game.
In the 1972 and 1973 seasons, Morris earned Super Bowl rings in Super Bowl VII and Super Bowl VIII, and was selected for the Pro Bowl in both years. In 1972, Morris shared the halfback position with Kiick, participating in a few less plays than Kiick, but having more carries as a running back. That year, he ran for exactly 1,000 yds on 190 carries, becoming, with teammate Larry Csonka, the first 1,000-yard tandem in NFL history. Morris was first thought to have finished with 991 yards, but the Dolphins' management asked the league to examine a play in which Morris fumbled a lateral: Morris was awarded the nine yards previously recorded as lost on the play, giving him 1,000 yards for the season. That year, Morris also led the NFL with 12 rushing touchdowns, and his 5.3 yard per carry average was 3rd in the NFL.
By 1973, Morris had taken over the starting halfback spot and rushed for 954 yards on 149 carries, despite playing with a neck injury late in the season. His 6.4 yard per carry average led the NFL that season, and he finished 3rd in the NFL in rushing touchdowns.
Although Morris' Super Bowl statistics pale in comparison with teammate Larry Csonka, he excelled in several playoff games leading up to Miami's two Super Bowl championships. In 1972 he led the Dolphins in rushing in both the divisional playoff game against Cleveland and the AFC Championship Game against Pittsburgh with 72 yards and 76 yards respectively. In 1973, he led the Dolphins in rushing for the divisional playoff game against Cincinnati with 106 yards, and added 86 more rushing yards in the AFC Championship Game against Oakland.
Morris continued playing for the Dolphins in 1974 and 1975, before spending the last season of his shortened career playing for the San Diego Chargers in 1976. In 1974, he was limited to playing just 5 games due to a knee injury suffered in a pre-season exhibition game. In 1975 he led the Dolphins in rushing yards with 875 despite sharing the halfback position with Benny Malone. After being traded to San Diego before the 1976 season, he ran for 256 yards on only 50 carries that year and decided to retire after the season, in part due to lingering difficulties from the neck injury suffered in 1973.
Eugene "Mercury" Morris finished in the top five of the NFL in rushing touchdowns twice and total touchdowns once during his nine-year career. His career 5.1 yard per carry average is 3rd all time among NFL players (2nd among running backs and 1st among halfbacks) with at least 750 rushing attempts, behind quarterback Randall Cunningham and fullback Jim Brown. His career kickoff return average of 26.5 is among the all-time top 10 for players with at least 100 returns.
In 1982, Morris was convicted of cocaine trafficking. He was sentenced to twenty years imprisonment, with a mandatory fifteen-year term. On March 6, 1986, his conviction was overturned by the Florida Supreme Court because evidence Morris had offered to prove his entrapment defense had been excluded under a mistaken characterization as hearsay. Morris was granted a new trial. He was able to reach a plea bargain with the prosecutor, resulting in his release from prison May 23, 1986, after having served three years. He later went on to a career as a motivational speaker. Towards the end of 2006, he was in a television commercial spot for a hair-treatment clinic, along with Wade Boggs.
In recent years, Morris has been interviewed often regarding the Dolphins perfect season of 1972 (especially when the New England Patriots compiled a perfect regular season in 2007). During the Patriots' run, Morris was the lead performer (which includes several other key members of the '72 Dolphins) in a reebok commercial entitled "perfectville".
- ^ a b c d Eugene "Mercury" Morris with Steve Fiffer (1988). Against the Grain. pp. 44–45. ISBN 0-07-043195-7.
- ^ a b c d e f g h i "Pro-Football-Reference Mercury Morris". http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/M/MorrMe00.htm. Retrieved 2007-07-20.
- ^ a b Neft, Cohen, and Korch (1995). The Sports Encyclopedia Pro Football. p. 772. ISBN 0-312-13186-0.
- ^ Eugene "Mercury" Morris with Steve Fiffer (1988). Against the Grain. p. 59. ISBN 0-07-043195-7.
- ^ Larry Csonka and Jim Kiick with Dave Anderson (1973). Always on the Run. p. 204. ISBN 0-394-48589-9.
- ^ a b Eugene "Mercury" Morris with Steve Fiffer (1988). Against the Grain. pp. 61–63. ISBN 0-07-043195-7.
- ^ a b c Neft, Cohen, and Korch (1995). The Sports Encyclopedia Pro Football. p. 766. ISBN 0-312-13186-0.
- ^ Larry Csonka and Jim Kiick with Dave Anderson (1973). Always on the Run. p. 205. ISBN 0-394-48589-9.
- ^ Neft, Cohen, and Korch (1995). The Sports Encyclopedia Pro Football. pp. 235, 242. ISBN 0-312-13186-0.
- ^ Neft, Cohen, and Korch (1995). The Sports Encyclopedia Pro Football. pp. 253, 260. ISBN 0-312-13186-0.
- ^ Eugene "Mercury" Morris with Steve Fiffer (1988). Against the Grain. p. 83. ISBN 0-07-043195-7.
- ^ Eugene "Mercury" Morris with Steve Fiffer (1988). Against the Grain. p. 91. ISBN 0-07-043195-7.
- ^ Eugene "Mercury" Morris with Steve Fiffer (1988). Against the Grain. p. 98. ISBN 0-07-043195-7.
- ^ NFL (2008). 2008 NFL Record & Fact Book (Official National Football League Record and Fact Book). p. 633. ISBN 978-1603207706.
- ^ "Pro-Football-Reference Career Yards per Kick Return Leaders". http://www.pro-football-reference.com/leaders/kick_ret_yds_per_ret_career.htm. Retrieved 2007-07-20.
- ^ Neft, Cohen, and Korch (1995). The Sports Encyclopedia Pro Football. p. 784. ISBN 0-312-13186-0.
NCAA Division I FBS Career Rushing Yards record
Miami Dolphins Super Bowl VII Champions
1 Garo Yepremian | 7 Billy Lothridge | 11 Jim Del Gaizo | 12 Bob Griese | 13 Jake Scott (MVP) | 15 Earl Morrall | 20 Larry Seiple | 21 Jim Kiick | 22 Mercury Morris | 23 Charles Leigh | 25 Tim Foley | 26 Lloyd Mumphord | 28 Ed Jenkins | 32 Hubert Ginn | 39 Larry Csonka | 40 Dick Anderson | 42 Paul Warfield | 45 Curtis Johnson | 49 Charlie Babb | 51 Larry Ball | 53 Bob Matheson | 54 Howard Kindig | 56 Jesse Powell | 57 Mike Kolen | 59 Doug Swift | 60 Al Jenkins | 62 Jim Langer | 65 Maulty Moore | 66 Larry Little | 67 Bob Kuechenberg | 68 Mike Kadish | 72 Bob Heinz | 73 Norm Evans | 75 Manny Fernandez | 77 Doug Crusan | 78 Jim Dunaway | 79 Wayne Moore | 80 Marv Fleming | 81 Howard Twilley | 82 Otto Stowe | 83 Vern Den Herder | 84 Bill Stanfill | 85 Nick Buoniconti | 86 Marlin Briscoe | 88 Jim Mandich | 89 Karl Noonan
Head Coach: Don Shula
Coaches: Bill Arnsparger | Monte Clark | Tom Keane | Mike Scarry | Howard Schnellenberger | Carl Taseff
Miami Dolphins Super Bowl VIII Champions
1 Garo Yepremian | 10 Don Strock | 12 Bob Griese | 13 Jake Scott | 15 Earl Morrall | 20 Larry Seiple | 21 Jim Kiick | 22 Mercury Morris | 23 Charles Leigh | 25 Tim Foley | 26 Lloyd Mumphord | 29 Tom Smith | 34 Ron Sellers | 36 Don Nottingham | 39 Larry Csonka (MVP) | 40 Dick Anderson | 42 Paul Warfield | 45 Curtis Johnson | 48 Henry Stuckey | 49 Charles Babb | 51 Larry Ball | 53 Bob Matheson | 55 Irv Goode | 57 Mike Kolen | 58 Bruce Bannon | 59 Doug Swift | 62 Jim Langer | 64 Ed Newman | 65 Maulty Moore | 66 Larry Little | 67 Bob Kuechenberg | 70 Larry Woods | 72 Bob Heinz | 73 Norm Evans | 75 Manny Fernandez | 76 Willie Young | 77 Doug Crusan | 79 Wayne Moore | 80 Marv Fleming | 81 Howard Twilley | 82 Bo Rather | 83 Vern Den Herder | 84 Bill Stanfill | 85 Nick Buoniconti | 86 Marlin Briscoe | 88 Jim Mandich | 89 Charley Wade
Head Coach: Don Shula
Coaches: Bill Arnsparger | Monte Clark | Tom Keane | Bill McPeak | Mike Scarry | Carl Taseff
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