Alfred Morris (Courtesy Washington Redskins)

Attitude is everything

“God is my foundation and focus” says star NFL rusher Alfred Morris

Jayne Thurber-Smith

Special to ChristianWeek

WASHINGTON, DC—Alfred Morris is one NFL star who prefers to fly under the radar, spurning the accoutrements of fame to be left alone to play the game he loves.

A leading rookie rusher in 2012, Morris spent his first two seasons rolling into Washington Redskins Park in “The Bentley,” a 1991 Mazda 626 he bought for $2 from his pastor while he was in college. His efforts paradoxically led to an article in USA Today titled “Alfred Morris Drives a $1,300 Car” and a feature on ESPN where he fondly referred to The Bentley’s many dents as dimples.

That caught the eye of Mazda executives who offered to do an auto makeover. Four months and 275 man-hours later, The Bentley was back and better than ever, restored to its near-1991 factory specs with a few modern upgrades.

Morris was very appreciative but maintains he had been honestly happy with his old car. It’s an attitude that has served him well as he puts his energies into the game he loves.

“So many people I grew up with were talented,” he recalls, “but it takes more than that to make it pro and see your dreams come true. It means going the extra mile and doing whatever it takes. Football was my dream and it wasn’t easy, but I thank God I’m here.”

He thanks God often during TV interviews, which became more frequent during his second year in the NFL.

Morris and “The Bentley,” a 1991 Mazda 626 he bought for $2 from his pastor while he was in college. (Courtesy Team Mazda)
Morris and “The Bentley,” a 1991 Mazda 626 he bought for $2 from his pastor while he was in college. (Courtesy Team Mazda)

Morris recalls growing up in church but not living like it. He hit a rough patch during his junior year at Florida Atlantic University and God got his complete attention. A few days before a big game, he had too much going on and was feeling overwhelmed. The pressures of football, academics, relationships and being away from his family built up until he couldn’t hold it together any more.

“Things had piled on me, and I hit rock bottom,” he recalls. “I was broken down, and I called out to the Lord and told Him I couldn’t do this life on my own anymore. I gave it all to Him that day and jumped into this new life with both feet.”

Morris had learned the truth of Matthew 6:24: “No man can serve two masters.”

“I had tried to straddle the fence between God’s way and the world’s way,” he says. “God had to break me in order to fix me, and to make me the man He’s called me to be. Now I wish I had gotten to that point sooner but I’m thankful for His perfect timing.”

Morris has been able to stand strong in a sport where many athletes fall victim to their own fame in too many ways.

“God is my foundation and focus,” he insists. “You won’t see the distractions if you look to Him. I see temptations as an opportunity to build my faith, stay strong and show God I’m all for Him.

“The way I look at it, this world is full of temporary satisfactions but when you have God, you have the missing piece of the puzzle we all search for. Why would I sacrifice what I have with Him? It’s not worth it.”

Jayne Thurber-Smith is an award-winning freelance writer for various publications including Faith & Friends, Sports Spectrum magazine and cbn.com. @jthurbersmith; https://suite.io/jayne-thurber-smith

 

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