It's Red Friday folks, time to get ready for another ballgame. It's also time for another installment of "Where Are They Now?". The Chiefs and Chargers have played over one hundred times but there was one game in particular that I knew I wanted to examine when considering who I would like to catch up with next.
September 17, 2000, Kansas City 42 San Diego 14. A seemingly normal regular season victory for the Chiefs with a standout performance by rookie WR Sylvester Morris. The first-round draft choice out of Jackson State would finish the day with 6 receptions for 112 yards and 3 touchdowns. I can recall the excitement with which I watched this game, knowing a star had been born. What neither I nor anyone knew though, was that those would be the only 3 touchdowns Morris would score in his career.
As a fan and contributor to this site, I knew I badly wanted to find Sylvester. The promise that came with such a performance was dashed by a slew of injuries that would end his career by 2004 with only fifteen games under his belt. What always made the situation more heartbreaking to me was that none of his injuries were caused by game contact. Time after time, his knees and ligaments failed him, without even being touched by an opponent.
It would be easy for fans to be bitter, knowing a first-round pick was a "bust", because we tend to judge things on face value alone. I always wondered how Sylvester Morris himself felt. Was he bitter? Was he angry? I was able to find him, and what I found was an upbeat individual who loved his time as a Kansas City Chief. I sensed no bitterness, no anger, and with all due respect to my previous interviews, this was my favorite conversation to date. Let's find out what Sylvester had to say in our third edition of "Where Are They Now?"!
The following was part of a telephone conversation that I had with Sylvester Morris. All attempts were made to ensure that the accuracy of all quotes. Some questions of mine were verbatim, some were paraphrased for the sake of continuity. Some aspects of the conversation were omitted. Enjoy.
I was able to track down Sylvester and after a little bit of phone tag, we were able to speak on the phone. In each of my segments thus far, it's such a great thing to hear each former Chief's voice perk up the second they talk about the city, the team and the fans. This was no different.
I began by asking about the game against the Chargers and what he remembered of that game:
Sylvester: Yeah, that was my first start at Arrowhead. I was just very excited. I knew it was my chance to show everyone what I could do. I really wanted to show the fans what I could do and it was a great game.
I was struck by his modesty. I would have been basking in the glow of everyone I burnt that day.
Me: Speaking of Arrowhead, what was your favorite part of playing there?
Sylvester: Everything man, the flyover, the red everywhere, the support they give every week, the way they yell 'home of the Chiefs' at the end of the anthem. It was the best.
I then got to asking him about how his career took a turn for the worse. We discussed the injuries he suffered and I found out that while the ACL tears were a part of it, he also had torn other ligaments and had major damage done to both knees. So when I asked him if it was his decision to hang up the cleats or if it was the advice of doctors his answer was very simple.
Sylvester: It got to the point where I just couldn't take any more surgeries. It was just too much. After my last injury, I knew that was it. I couldn't do the whole process over again.
I know fans mave have liked to hear more, but blame me on that one. I did not want to push him to talk about the injuries that much and I wanted to talk more about his time as a Chief.
Me: Do you still follow the Chiefs and if so, do you have a favorite Chief?
Sylvester: Oh yeah, I still follow them. I have been a football fan ever since before I even played football. I follow the Chiefs every week and I still pull for them all the time....Dwayne Bowe, I've followed him ever since he was at LSU cause I live here in Louisiana. I played for Jackson State, but LSU is my team. I knew Dwayne had the talent in college and I really enjoy watching him for the Chiefs.
Me: Who was the best player you had a chance to play with?
Sylvester: (no hesitation) Tony Gonzalez. But if I had to name a couple others I would have to say Willie Roaf and Will Shields
That's multiple times now a former Chief has mentioned Roaf and Shields. What a line we had.
Me: Who was the best player you played against?
Sylvester: All of them. (Laughs) That's just because I don't want to give any individual defensive players credit (laughs).
Me: So since your departure from football, what have you been up to?
Sylvester: A few things, I've had some rental properties that I own, just keeping busy here. I love to golf. My golfing buddy is Dante Hall.
Me: Dante Hall? Really? Wow, well who wins when you guys play?
Sylvester: Dante used to win all the time the first few years we played, but now I've started to catch up to him.
I found that to be very interesting. While we as fans are united in our common bonds of passion for the Chiefs, the bonds that are made with teammates are far stronger and last long after the playing days are over.
As we wrapped up, I asked Sylvester if he had any message he would like to give to the fans of the Chiefs.
Sylvester: Just want to thank the fans for all their support. And I want to tell them to keep supporting the team. The team needs the fans more than ever. Even though the results haven't been good so far, the team needs the fans more than you realize. You keep the team going. But thanks for everything and all your support.
For years I believed that the players played without paying much mind to the boos or cheers. Yet another former Chief has echoed how important our fan base is to keeping them going. Hopefully no matter what the results, we continue to keep that in mind.
After thanking Sylvester for the opportunity to talk, I left that conversation with a smile on my face. Far too often, when the cheers stop and the lights have dimmed for the last time, star athletes whose careers were cut short find themselves unsure where to turn and some end up on the wrong side of the proverbial tracks. In this case, I got the sincere impression that Sylvester has taken the hand he was dealt and has made the best of it. It was truly a pleasure to speak to him and further indication that the Chiefs have the best players and fans in this league.
Sylvester will be checking this out, so be sure to leave your messages to him in the comments section! Until next time, this was "Where Are They Now?": Sylvester Morris.