It was as perfect a block as has ever been delivered, and the deliberate Morrison was untouched the rest of the way to the end zone, accompanied by an escort of receivers Joe Walton and Del Shofner. That touchdown closed the scoring at 37-14 and gave a textblog example of why Rosey Brown is in the Hall of Fame.
Joe Morrison never again came close to running for 71 yards from scrimmage on one play, but that’s not a surprise. He was too slow and too small to accomplish most of what he did in his long Giants career. However, when he retired after 14 years, only Mel Hein had played more seasons in New York and only Charley Conerly had played as many. When he retired, no one had caught more passes as a Giants player, and only Frank Gifford had scored more touchdowns or gained more yards receiving. Joe Morrison was smart, steady, and determined; he was a pro.
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He became a Giant by accident. Scout Ed Kolman went to a University of Cincinnati game to watch Tulsa’s Ron Morris, but he fell in love with Morrison, the Bearcats’ quarterback, instead. New York drafted Joe in 1959 and switched him to halfback as a rookie. In his third year, he was forced to play safety because of injuries at the end of the season, and by 1963, he was the starting fullback on the Eastern Conference champs despite weighing only 210 pounds. The following season, he switched to wide receiver; he would play flanker and split end for the rest of his career. On occasion, he even lined up at tight end and at one point was the club’s emergency quarterback.
His versatility and dedication were the major reasons he lasted so long in the NFL.
Of the 11 Giants who have had their number retired by the team, Morrison is the most inexplicable. He was never a great player, just a reliable one. The story goes that coach Alex Webster, Morrison’s former teammate, was conducting a retirement news conference in which Morrison was to be presented with his jersey, but got confused and remarked that it was “great to retire Joe’s number.” Thus, the accidental Giant had his number retired accidentally.
Joe Morrison stepped in for injured running back Alex Webster and rushed for 120 yards against the Eagles in 1963.
The remarkable triple block that Rosey Brown threw to spring Joe Morrison in this game was emblematic of his talents and his style of play. First, Brown had the speed and mobility to pull from the left side and get in front of the ball carrier to lead a run over the right side. Very few offensive tackles in NFL history have been quick enough to pull and lead running plays. Second, Rosey had the power and technique to obliterate his man and clear the way. At 6’3″ and 250 pounds, he was a good-sized tackle for his time and a preeminent downfield blocker.
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