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Viva La Bam'

Tuesday, May 9, 2006
 

Former Steelers running back Byron "Bam" Morris wants to make an NFL comeback.

"If the Steelers would want to sign me, they wouldn't have to even buy me a plane ticket to get there. I'd drive," said Morris, 34, who was released from prison in 2004. "I don't want any favors, no special treatment. I'm not asking for no hand-me-downs because I know I won't get it.

"If people say, 'You don't have it,' I can live with it."

Morris' promising pro football career began in 1994 with the Steelers. It ended after drugs put the self-proclaimed "party animal" in a prison cell.

Morris gained his release from a Texas prison in July 2004 after serving 2 12 years for violating parole.

"There's no way I could ever go back to the way I used to live," said Morris, who claims he has overcome his troubles, which included years of substance abuse.

While Morris awaits a ruling from the NFL on his reinstatement request, he plays for an indoor league team in Texas. The Steelers declined to comment on Morris.

Morris leads the National Indoor Football League's Katy Copperheads in rushing (48.0 yards per game) and was tied for third in scoring (54 points) through last Sunday's 86-14 rout of Big Sky. Morris earns $300 a game, a far cry from his $1.2 million salary at the height of his NFL career.

"He's been nothing but a standup guy," said Bryan Blake, owner and coach of the Copperheads, who are based 20 miles west of Houston. "He's a role model to the other guys on the team, telling them things like how hard they have to work to get to the NFL."

In his early years, Morris loved to have a good time. Morris, a 6-foot-2, 258-pound native of Cooper, Texas, won the 1993 Doak Walker Award as the nation's top running back while at Texas Tech.

"People told me I was a role model," Morris said, "but I didn't consider myself a role model. I didn't ask to be a role model. I was just blessed to have talent, and when you're in that position and you're young, sometimes you don't think about being responsible the way you should."

Morris said he is trying to use his misfortunes and mistakes as a learning tool."A guy told me, 'You know what, Bam• If you go to prison and gain the understanding and knowledge you need to live your life, then there's no reason to look at prison as a bad thing,' " Morris said.

"I thought about that for a while, and what I came up with was that it dramatically changed my life."

Morris was an integral part of the Steelers' team that reached Super Bowl XXX in 1996. He scored a touchdown and had a game-high 73 yards on 19 carries in the Super Bowl loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

On June 27, 1996, following his second season with the Steelers, Morris pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana in a plea bargain in Rockwall County, Texas. Police found 4 kilograms of marijuana and 1 gram of cocaine in his car during a traffic stop.

He was fined $7,000 and was sentenced to 200 hours of community service and six years probation.

He was released by the Steelers and picked up by the Baltimore Ravens.

But after two suspension-marred seasons for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy, the Ravens, too, released the troubled Morris when he was arrested for assaulting a woman.

Morris eventually played two productive seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs. But in August 2000, Morris pleaded guilty to two counts of drug trafficking. He was sentenced to 30 months in prison.

A year later, he violated his parole and was imprisoned for nearly three years.

He has undergone regular drug testing since August 2004 and has followed the league's guidelines necessary for reinstatement.

Bam by the numbers
A look at the NFL regular-season career statistics of former Steelers running back Bam Morris:
Rushing
Receiving
Year
Team
Att.
Yds.
TD
Rec.
Yds.
TD
1994
Pit.
198
836
7
22
204
0
1995
Pit.
148
559
9
8
36
0
1996
Bal.
172
737
4
25
242
1
1997
Bal.
204
774
4
29
176
0
1998
Chi.
3
8
0
0
0
0
1998
K.C.
129
481
8
12
95
0
1999
K.C.
120
414
3
7
37
0
Total
974
3809
35
103
790
1

 

 
 


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