'It is what it is'

CON GRIWKOWSKY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:42 AM ET

All Chris Morris could do when he found out his name will be going up next to Gizmo Williams on the Eskimos wall of honour was let out a laugh.

Morris toiled in relative anonymity throughout his 14-year career, a lunchbucket player contrasted to the flashy style the Giz brought.

'HUGE IMPACT'

"At least I won't have to listen to him talking ... it's a banner," joked Morris, who's now an assistant principal at Harry Ainlay high school. "It's interesting how a team has different kinds of players on it to be successful. When I think about it, I'm beside a guy who had a huge impact on a team. Unless you were paying no attention at all, you couldn't miss it.

"That's opposed to somebody who you don't pay attention to every game. You say, OK, they're doing their job, great. It's just the nature of football. There's all kinds of different players that contribute to making a team successful."

The Eskimos offensive lineman's name will be unveiled in the northeast corner of Commonwealth. A Halloween night treat when the Esks host Montreal a week from Friday.

Morris never earned an all-star selection.

His worth, and the way he played through pain, is something that's rarely appreciated outside of a locker room and outside his small group of teammates.

It was never about all-star selections for Morris. It was always about showing up for work and doing your best.

"If you could walk out of bed, there was no reason you couldn't play the game," said Morris. "I played at a very high level. The all-star thing has a lot to do with other things than playing football. Whether or not that has to do with this honour, I don't know. It is what it is."

In a way, the selection may be somewhat symbolic, a type of esoteric way to give recognition to the unrecognized career accomplishments ... a football version of the John Wayne Academy award.

Morris wore No. 60 throughout his career and the Eskimos are celebrating their 60th anniversary.

Still, Morris made an impact right from his first start, after being drafted No. 8 overall in 1992.

He set the tone for his career by totally frustrating the premier pass rusher of the era, Stew Hill. Morris was subbing in for veteran Trevor Bowles and made such a first impression that he never relinquished the spot.

"I remember coach Mac (Bill Macdermott) was really worried about Stew Hill," said Morris. "At one point, I actually told him 'coach, I'm either going to be able to block him or I'm not. We can have 20 meetings about this or three. I know you guys are nervous about this. Why don't you just let me go out and let me try to block him.' And it worked out.

"He was the Cameron Wake of the time. I believed either you could go out there and play or not. That was a situation where you can step up and show you can play or fade away."

Morris won three Grey Cup rings (1993, 2003, 2005) with the Eskimos before he retired after helping the Esks win his third, but his greatest memory was winning the western final in Calgary's McMahon Stadium in 1993 against Doug Flutie and an all-star lineup.

"I can't remember what their record was but it was such a dominant team, there was no way we could possibly beat these guys," said Morris. "But, you had to show up on that day and play. When it was minus-50, we were a little more ready to play on that day than they were."

Former teammate Sean Fleming was drafted in the same year as Morris and understands the significance of the honour.

'WORKED HARD'

"Not many people knew Chris outside the team," said Fleming. "He didn't care about the limelight. He's a guy who showed up, worked hard, tried to improve every game. He played through a lot of pain, a lot of injuries. The honour he's getting really has more to do with the type of person he is. He's the type of player any football team would want."


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