Lloyd Morris, an airman at Cannon Air Force Base who spent two seasons on the Tennessee Titans’ practice squad, will be teaching a football clinic for grades 3-7 this week. (CNJ staff photo: Andrew Chavez)
By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer
Lloyd Morris always thought he could play football.
A native of Luxora in northwest Arkansas, Morris played one year in junior college and another at the University of Mississippi as a defensive tackle in the late 1980s, then joined the Air Force.
Stationed in Eglin, Fla., in 1995, Morris continued to play semipro football before getting an invitation to a Tennessee Titans minicamp in 1999 through a friend in the organization, he said.
He made the Titans’ practice squad in 1999 and 2000, traveling with the team to Super Bowl XXXIII in which Tennessee lost to the St. Louis Rams 23-16.
Slowed by injuries, the 6-foot-6, 315-pound Morris gave up the game after the 2000 season and returned to the Air Force. He has been stationed at Cannon AFB for 4 1/2 years.
“I was always having medical problems,” he said of his time with the Titans. “I thought it was my knees, but I couldn’t figure it out. After the second year, I just decided to let (football) go.”
Morris, 37, said he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2002. He looks relatively fit, but has some discomfort walking and said if he exerts for any length of time he becomes fatigued.
“It mostly affects your legs,” he said. “After you do so much conditioning, your legs turn to jelly.
“I used to be able to lift 475 or 480 pounds; now I’m down to around 280.”
Morris said he figures that if he can’t play, he can help teach. He will work a Play Inc.-sponsored football camp for youth on Monday and Wednesday at Jim Hill Field.
Sammy Herrera, who works at the base and volunteers his time at Play Inc., said he met Morris through his job at Cannon a couple of years ago.
“I’d heard he had a football background,” Herrera said. “He’s helped us out the last couple of years.”
Herrera said he worked a camp with Morris last year in Farwell.
“I just go out there and talk to the kids,” Morris said. “I’m pretty much just trying to get kids involved.
“Sammy does it for the registration (for the Play Inc. fall football league); that’s what the camp is for. I told him, ‘I’ll do it for the kids. I’ll do it because I love football and I love sports.’”
Having been at Cannon for about 4 1/2 years, Morris said he expects to transfer out sometime in the relatively near future. He’s hoping to go to Colorado, where his wife Becky is from, or back to Florida.
Herrera said Morris’ experience translate well to young football hopefuls.
“Any time you get on any type of team in the NFL, you’ve got to have some ability,” Herrera said. “He’s just a real good guy. He’s very knowledgeable (about football), so we put him to work.”