Chiefs return to basic run -- and ex-Raven Morris

On The NFL

June 20, 1999|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,SUN STAFF

Bam Morris may be down to his last chance.

Morris, who has been hampered by off-the-field problems and is with his fourth team, will go into training camp as the Kansas City Chiefs' top rusher.

The Chiefs are counting on the former Raven because new coach Gunther Cunningham wants to put more emphasis on running the ball.

"We got away from the things that made us successful in the past," Cunningham said after last year's 7-9 flameout that led former coach Marty Schottenheimer to quit.

Jimmy Raye, the offensive coordinator, said: "We got cute last year. We tried to be something we weren't. We're going back to being what we are -- a physically tough football team that gives itself a chance to win in the fourth quarter."

Morris, whose past includes two drug-related suspensions by the NFL and a three-month jail sentence in Texas on a drug charge, said he can fit right in.

"I've got to put all that behind me and look forward to a brighter future for me and my family," he said. "People around here seem to realize that everyone will have problems in life. But the big thing is, where do you go after that? Do you go down the same path that got you in trouble, or do you make a complete 360 and do the right things?"

Morris, who says he weighed 300 pounds when he got out of jail last year, has been a regular in the team's off-season program as he tries to get himself down to his 248-pound playing weight.

Traded from the Chicago Bears to the Chiefs last October, he gained 481 yards and scored eight touchdowns the rest of the year.

Big spender

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft found a buyer for one of his expensive luxury suites at his proposed new stadium in his own locker room.

Quarterback Drew Bledsoe bought one that will cost $320,000.

"Now my wife doesn't have to hear all the heckling if I have a bad game," Bledsoe said.

Ravens-Redskins rivalry

The Ravens were somewhat chagrined in their first year in town when the Baltimore fans cheered a Pittsburgh Steelers victory over the Washington Redskins. The Steelers are a division rival, so it was in the Ravens' best interest for them to lose.

But now that new Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has signed former Ravens marketing whiz David Cope, the Ravens are getting into the rivalry. They've filed a grievance because the Redskins didn't ask for permission to talk to him.

The Redskins' position is that they didn't have to ask for permission because Cope didn't have a contract with the Ravens. Now it's up to commissioner Paul Tagliabue to sort it out. Imagine Tagliabue, who didn't want a team in Baltimore in the first place and is a former Redskins season-ticket holder, mediating a Redskins-Ravens dispute.

Regardless of the letter of the law, it was tacky of the Redskins to give Cope an offer he couldn't refuse (they doubled his salary to the $400,000 range) at a time when the marketing department is making its sponsorship deals for the coming season.

That was like signing a scout a month before the draft. The Ravens need all the revenue they can get, and losing Cope at this time could cost them.

Cope is considered one of the best in the business. His resume includes the selling of the naming rights at the new stadium and bringing the Army-Navy game to Baltimore.

Despite the dispute, the Ravens say they still want to start an exhibition series with the Redskins. It could feature a trophy that could be called the Maryland Cup going to the winner each year.

Before this controversy started, Snyder said he'd "love to" have the Redskins play the Ravens.

He may have second thoughts after Ravens owner Art Modell told the Washington Post after the Cope hiring: "There was a sense of morality that was lacking in this instance. I don't want to do business with that ilk."

Mellowing?

Reports that Jimmy Johnson was mellowing after he almost quit the Miami Dolphins' coaching job in the wake of his anguish over his mother's death may have been exaggerated.

At the team's recent Kickoff and Awards banquet, featured speaker Bob Griese gave a speech about his son Brian's winning the national title at Michigan and a Super Bowl ring with the Broncos the past two years.

Johnson said: "Listen, Bob, we didn't really enjoy hearing all the stuff about your son. This is the Miami Dolphins banquet."

Mentor

Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Derrick Brooks is bringing 13 children from a boys and girls club in an underprivileged area of Tampa to Washington this week for an educational field trip.

The children had to earn the trip by completing various projects, including writing an essay on the significance of 15 Washington landmarks.

"It's important to me that these boys and girls have the opportunity to learn through traveling," said Brooks, who is paying for the trip.

As part of his "Brooks Bunch" program, he sponsors annual field trips for the children to give them incentives to do well in school.

Quotable

"The coaching phase is over. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I've enjoyed these last four months immensely. I've probably hit more fly balls and grounders and caught more pitches from my grandkids than ever."

-- Ted Marchibroda, who will be the Colts' radio analyst this year after being fired as Ravens coach.

Pub Date: 6/20/99

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