Alfred Morris drove his 1991 Mazda 626 to Valley Ranch on Wednesday. Though his belongings still are in storage in the Washington, D.C., area, Morris had the car he nicknamed “Bentley” transported him his new home the Dallas-Forth Worth, Texas area.
“I grew up in not the best of situations, so I wasn’t fortunate enough to get a car at graduation,” Morris said. “In college, I had to hitchhike, ride a bike or walk. I just wanted a car. I got tired of relying on other people. I got this one and took ownership of it, and it just reminds me of what it took to get to where I am today — a lot of hard work, a lot of dedication, a lot of sacrifice. It reminds me of my struggles to get here.
“That’s my baby. Eventually, I will get another car. Who knows when eventually is.”
Morris has hitched his wagon to the star, signing an incentive-laden, two-year contract with the Dallas Cowboys last month. He could earn up to $5.5 million.
“We don’t have a problem earning our money,” Sean Stellato, Morris’ agent, said. “At the same time, we got some guarantees. I think what it really comes down to is the opportunity to put him in the best situation, and I feel his best football is ahead of him. … There’s something in the water down in Pensacola. The Cowboys had quite a good run with Emmitt [Smith], and Emmitt paved the way for Alfred to have big dreams coming out of Pensacola. It’s exciting to know that he’s going to a place where Emmitt became one of the greatest running backs in NFL history.”
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones recently confirmed Darren McFadden remains the team’s starting running back after McFadden rushed for 1,089 yards last season. But this time a year ago, Joseph Randle was the Cowboys’ starting running back after DeMarco Murray left in free agency, and McFadden signed with Dallas.
McFadden became the starter in the seventh game when Randle was injured, and the Cowboys waived Randle a week later.
Morris understands things change. That’s how he got here.
“I’m not going to pay attention to any media,” Morris said. “That’s just how I am. I just keep my head down and do my job. My whole thing is making the most of every opportunity I do get, whether that means starting or being a role player. It doesn’t matter. I’m going to do what I do, and we’ll see what happens from there. There are a lot of hurdles to jump through before we even get to that point.”
Morris rushed for 3,962 yards and scored 28 touchdowns on 876 carries his first three seasons, beginning his career with three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. Though he again started all 16 games in 2015, Morris split snaps with Matt Jones and Chris Thompson. Morris got 385 offensive snaps, Jones 340 and Thompson 274. Morris received only 47.1 of the carries and finished without 1,000 yards for the first time, falling 249 yards short.
“I have no idea [what happened],” Morris said. “It’s just the nature of the beast. I didn’t get an explanation, but I didn’t go seeking an explanation either. They weren’t going to be honest with me. I just left it at that and tried to make the most of what I did get. It was weird for me. It was different to go from being the starter to being a virtual backup in a sense. Yes, I started, but I was really backing up. It was different for me.
“I have no hard feelings. I learned a lot last season, not just about myself but this whole NFL pursuit. I enjoyed my time there, and that chapter’s ended. Now it’s on to a new chapter and obviously new things, and I’m excited to see what the future holds.”
Morris expresses surprise he didn’t draw more interest in free agency considering his first four seasons. Denver and Jacksonville were among teams that inquired about him.
Morris admits he initially had no interest in the Cowboys. Once they called, though, Morris was drawn to playing for a team that loves running the football behind one of the league’s best offensive lines. Murray led the league in rushing in 2014 with 1,845 yards.
“A running back would be crazy not to like that,” Morris said.
Morris, 27, has found a home even if he still lives in an extended stay hotel. He hopes to finish his career in Dallas.
“I would like not to bounce around anymore,” Morris said. “I don’t want to do free agency again.”