The Patriots announced Sunday that former center Jon Morris was selected to the Patriots' Hall of Fame by a 10-person senior selection committee.
"It was overwhelming," Morris said of his reaction to the call from Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft telling him of the honor. "I thought my days were numbered. This announcement came as a complete surprise. I consider this the crowning achievement of my football life and I am so thankful to the Kraft family and the selection committee for allowing me to experience this feeling.
"When I first retired from the Patriots, the alumni were not meant to feel welcome. I don't say that to be critical, it was just different. Once your career was over, it was over. You cannot be a player forever and we understood that. But, when the Kraft family came along, they changed all that. It hasn't been just a one-time thing, either. They have maintained a relationship with the alumni since he bought the team. I just think that is the neatest thing that has ever happened. It is one of the reasons that being in the hall of fame is such a big deal. They have made it a big deal. I give the Krafts all the credit for making the alumni feel so special and I look forward to being a part of this year's hall of fame ceremony."
Morris is the first Patriots Hall of Fame inductee to be selected by the newly formed senior selection committee. Morris will be inducted along with one of the 2011 Patriots Hall of Fame finalists in a ceremony later this year. The three 2011 Hall of Fame finalists will be revealed online at www.patriots.com on April 15. Fans will have one month to vote for the finalist they believe is most deserving of induction. The Patriots are the only NFL team that includes their fans in the voting process and gives them the responsibility of making the annual selection.
Morris played 11 seasons for the Patriots, appearing in 130 games from 1964-74. He earned seven consecutive All-Star appearances with six AFL All-Star games (1964-69) and was an AFC Pro Bowl center in 1970. His seven league All-Star selections rank second in Patriots history behind Pro Football Hall of Famer John Hannah (nine). Morris was the first Patriots player to be selected to the NFL Pro Bowl.
Morris anchored an offensive line that opened holes for Jim Nance to amass a team-record 45 rushing touchdowns from 1965-71. Morris was selected by the Patriots in the fourth round of the 1964 AFL draft out of Holy Cross. He was also selected in the second round by the Packers, but he knew Boston Patriots head coach Mike Holovak and chose to stay in New England to pursue his professional football career. Morris also played for the Lions (1975-77) and the Bears ('78).
After his playing career, Morris worked as the color commentator on Patriots radio broadcasts from 1979-87, followed by color analysis of NFL games for NBC television.
A 10-person senior selection committee, consisting of some of the most tenured Patriots beat writers and staff, was approved by Kraft to ensure that early-era players who are deserving of Patriots Hall of Fame induction are given that consideration.