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Lockout opening new doors for MLB Morrison

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Recent posts by Arthur Arkush

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Posted June 09, 2011 @ 2:56 p.m. ET
By Arthur Arkush

One might expect MLB Kirk Morrison to be angry about the lockout.

After all, Morrison, an unrestricted free agent who spent his first five seasons in Oakland before being traded to the Jaguars during the 2010 draft, is in the dark on where he will be playing next season.

That the Jaguars didn't draft a linebacker in April bodes well for Morrison, who describes the '10 season as a "big transition for a guy who had spent his whole life in California."

Morrison told PFW earlier this week that he thought he had an "OK" first season with the club, but he believes there is unfinished business and he hopes to be back in '11.

He said that he had to get rid of a lot of old habits he learned in Oakland, with the Raiders being primarily a man-coverage team and the Jaguars showing a lot of different coverages and blitzes.

But not knowing if he will have to change teams and defensive systems for a second consecutive year is not putting a damper on Morrison's offseason. The steady veteran 'backer, who has never missed a game during his six NFL seasons and registered 116 or more tackles in each of his first five NFL campaigns, said that the offseason has been great; he has tried mixed martial arts training and radio work, among other things.

Morrison, who was presented with the opportunity to throw his hat in the MMA ring at the Super Bowl in February, has been training with Jay Glazer, Randy Couture and teammate Marcedes Lewis in Los Angeles for the past month. He said he has become addicted to the training, with both the physical and mental benefits being tremendous.

"One thing I have noticed is you don't have to tense up. A lot of fighters are loose, they're calm, they're relaxed, yet when they fight, you see them knocking guys out. … That relates to football in that I get so tensed up, you know I'm an excited guy, I play with a lot of intensity to be a middle linebacker. But learning how to be calm in the heat of battle is going to make me a better football player because the amount of impact you can have when you're relaxed and calm — you'd be surprised. You can generate a lot more power."

Dabbling in radio also has been quite fulfilling for Morrison. A self-described spokesman for his college football team at San Diego State University, he was in front of a microphone often in college and has had a desire to hone his communication skills ever since.

After working on a pregame show for the Super Bowl on FOX, Morrison was approached by the executive president of FOX Sports radio, who told him to get in touch if he was interested in doing some more radio work.

Morrison said he always had wanted to host his own show after doing no more than "a segment here and a segment there" over the years. So, he picked up the phone the next day. Before he knew it, he was co-hosting a weekly Sirius XM radio show on Saturday nights with former MLB pitcher Rob Dibble.

"I can't lie; I have been having so much fun. Especially because I'm a huge sports fan — I'm not just a football player — I've been watching sports my whole life. I watch basketball, I watch baseball; obviously, I'm a big football guy. But I also love hockey — especially Stanley Cup playoff hockey— because it is much more intense than the regular season. So, having a co-host like Dibble, who is like my baseball guy — my analyst — we just have great chemistry and we just have fun. Every Saturday night, we just talk about everything."

To be clear: Morrison is anxious to return to the football field soon. He said he is still optimistic that the owners and players can get a deal worked out — but it will require both sides making concessions.

In the meantime, however, Morrison, who earned a criminal justice degree from SDSU, isn't worrying about things he can't control. He would rather spend his time broadening his horizons and preparing for life after football.

"There have been so many negatives about the lockout — guys not doing this and not doing that — but it's funny that the lockout has opened up some doors for a guy like me. I had a chance to do MMA; I had a chance to do radio. And these are things that help me not only during my career but after it is over as well." 

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