An elite response
The word “elite” has become something of a jokey buzzword in the NFL, a standard that few players meet but many are judged by. One cheeky fellow has made it his life mission to determine whether or not Joe Flacco is elite (answer: Weltschmerz), and countless players have been deemed very good or excellent or super swell, if slightly less than elite.
Is Redskins running back Alfred Morris elite? Conventional wisdom would probably put him in the very good-but-slightly-less-than-elite category, a key building block for the Redskins but perhaps not a transcendent talent. That’s what the very sober John Keim recently argued on ESPN.com, in an extremely straightforward and non-incendiary post about Washington’s running back position:
“Though Morris isn’t an elite back, he is a good one. His production has declined in each of the past two years— sometimes as a result of his own performance, other times because of game situations (not playing with the lead in the fourth quarter) or because of others’ play (the run blocking wasn’t great).
“His lack of productivity on third downs is an issue, which is one reason the Redskins drafted Matt Jones in the third round. Morris isn’t a breakaway runner, yet he does a good job getting chunks of yardage . . . Also, if you’re talking quite a bit about culture change, then players such as Morris are guys you want to keep around.”
You could tell from Keim’s post— as from so much other reporting— that no one has a bad word to say about Morris, that everyone hopes he succeeds and that he is the kind of player you want on your team, elite or not. But every running back can’t be elite, or else being elite would not really be elite.
In any case, Morris read Keim’s piece. And he had what strikes me as a fairly thoughtful and unusual reaction. Here’s the beginning of Morris’s response, which he posted on Instagram:
“When I initially read this I felt almost offended. How can the media who probably never did anything athletic in their life try to critique my play not having a true idea of what we do. But then I thought deeper and was like he’s right! I’mnot an elite back. I’ve never been the biggest, fastest, or strongest. I consider myself a hard working average joe and I do just that, work hard everyday.”
(Of course, many media members have done many athletic things in their lives. And there’s probably considerable space between “average joe” and “elite.”)
Morris went on to praise God at great length, saying “He can take the seemingly ordinary things to accomplish extraordinary feats,” and crediting divine assistance for his NFL successes.
“I could go on about how I’ve always been overlooked and it’s been this way for memy whole life yadda yadda,” Morris concluded, “but it’s not about me, it’s about He!”
Like I said, it’s a fairly unusual response.
Also, Alfred Morris apparently agrees that he’s not elite. (Although he also put a link to Keim’s piece in his Instagram biography, suggesting he might be on a mission toward elite ville.)
AlfredMorris gives credit for his success to divine assistance. “I considermyself a hard working average joe,” he posted.