Former Patriots center Jon Morris addresses the New England media during his conference call to talk about being named a finalist for enshrinement into the Patriots Hall of Fame.
Q: What's your reaction to be back in this finalists group again?
JM: It's obviously a tremendous honor. It being the third time...Is everybody in the room, besides Jim Donaldson of course, old enough to remember Harold Stassen was? Google him and that's how I feel. He ran for president about nine times and never got elected. It's a great feeling, honestly. It's been forever since I played and to still be remembered by the media and even by the fans is terrific. I can't imagine the high honor, unless it's the NFL Hall of Fame, which isn't going to happen for me, but I would really love to be in the Patriots Hall of Fame. The last two times I've been nominated and I hope this is the lucky one.
Q: How vivid are your memories of being there and how often do you think back to the days when you were playing in the league?
JM: Recently, I've done quite a bit more than I had in the past. A lot of that credit goes to the Kraft family and the Patriots organization because I've been back in Foxboro twice in the last year. Once for the alumni reunion last summer and then again for the 50th anniversary team festivities that they put together, so for the first time in I don't know how many years since I stopped playing I sort of feel like the organization cares about the people that went before them. I mean, I know they do. If you've been around the Patriots as long as I have that was seriously lacking in the past. I mean the Sullivan's tried the best they could, but they weren't able to do it, so the alumni were not an important part of the organization. The Kraft's have made sure that they are and I've got to tell you it feels good.
Q: Does it add meaning to what you did in the league and what you did to help build the league to understand that we're being versed to the importance that you guys played?
JM: Yeah, that's a good point. I often wonder whether the young guys and the young fans feel that way. I saw a little of that when I was at Gillette Stadium for the introductions for the 50th year team that they obviously do feel that way. And there was quite a bit of talk during that weekend about the American Football League and this is the 50th anniversary of the AFL and the foundation of players, owners and coaches. So it got us all reminiscing. It was kind of fun. It really was. As a result of all that, to answer your question, I do spend a little time thinking about that except when I'm standing over a four foot put then I try to forget about it.
Q: Do you think it's hard for guys to be recognized for their accomplishments in the AFL versus the NFL.
JM: I had this conversation with someone the other day. I think it's a disgrace that the all-time leading scorer in the American Football League is not in the Hall of Fame and I just wonder if that has something to do with it.
Q: What would you say for guys who played in that league on the level of play that you guys had? I think you have a good perspective because you played in both.
JM: There are several AFL guys in the Hall of Fame, not as many as there should be and Gino Cappelletti is the obvious missing character that should be in there and I'm not sure it's ever going to happen for him. I don't know if any politics are involved in terms of the AFL, NFL rivalry. I think that's long gone, don't you? I think the longer you're away from football, the easier it is to forget. Like my situation with the Patriots Hall of Fame. In a couple years, maybe even next year, a lot of players on the Super Bowl teams are going to become eligible for the Hall of Fame and there's not going to be room for an old guy like me. It's the same thing for the NFL Hall of Fame. The longer you are away, the harder it is to get in, I guess.
Q: How would you want people to think of your career and the way you played?
JM: That's a tough one. You probably weren't even born when I played.
Q: I was not actually.
JM: I use that line all the time and I think it's going to be funny until I realize it's true. How would I like to be remembered? I'd just like to be remembered at all at my age. I am 68 now. You guys even talking to me is a compliment and I was an offensive linemen and they don't exactly build statues to offensive linemen in the parking lots, so I'm just happy to be considered for this whole thing. I would like to point out that there's no center in the Patriots Hall of Fame, so you might want to fill that void, too.
Q: Last year you made the 50th anniversary team and had a chance to come back and be honored and be recognized as the greatest center in Patriots history.
JM: I don't know if I told you or if you heard about it, but the Kraft's put on an unbelievable weekend, including a huge party over at their house in Brookline. They sent first class airline tickets for my wife and myself. They just know how to do things the right way, don't they?
Q: What was your reaction a year ago to be recognized as the greatest at your position in franchise history?
JM: I can't imagine a higher honor than that. It happened so long ago. When I think about it it almost boggles my mind that someone thinks you're the best that ever played for the Patriots. It doesn't get a whole lot better than that. It was quite an honor and very much overwhelming to me.