Larry Morris, 79, a Decatur High football star who became an All-American at Georgia Tech and played a dozen years in the NFL, died Dec. 19 after an extended illness.
Morris led the 1949 and 1950 Decatur teams that won state championships while going 25-0. According to a 2010 Atlanta Journal-Constitution story that Decaturite Bill Banks wrote about a team reunion,
The star player both years was halfback/linebacker Larry Morris. If today’s surviving Decatur players have foggy interpretations of individual games, each has palpable, living, breathing recollections of “The Brahma Bull.”
“He was incredible,” said Morris’ son, Shan Morris, himself a three-year starter at Auburn in the late 1980s. “I’ve seen pictures from his high school and college days, and by comparison, the other players look anorexic. He was a genetic freak.”
Larry Morris would star for four years at Tech, including the 1952 national championship season, before playing 12 years in the NFL. With the Chicago Bears in 1963 he was the NFL championship game’s MVP with an interception and two sacks of Y.A. Tittle.
Today Morris lives at the Presbyterian Village in Austell, where he gets around-the-clock care for chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a severe brain disorder that probably stems from his long playing career. “He first started showing symptoms in 1988,” Shan Morris said. “He drove to Decatur to meet with some of his high school buddies, and then he got lost coming home.”
Morris was an All-American at Georgia Tech and captain of the football and baseball teams before graduating in 1955 with a degree in Industrial Management. Morris was later inducted into the Georgia Tech Hall of Fame and College Football Hall of Fame and last year was added to Decatur High's Wall of Honor.
Considered one of the greatest players in Georgia Tech history, Morris played center and linebacker for Yellow Jacket teams that went 40-5-2, including 4-0 in bowl games. A member of the 1952 national championship team, Morris was named to the All-Southeastern Conference 25-Year Team for 1950-74.
He enjoyed an outstanding NFL career and was named one of the linebackers on the NFL 1960s All-Decade Team. In addition to leading the Bears to the 1963 NFL championship, he was a member of the Atlanta Falcons first team in 1966.
After playing in the NFL, Morris had a career in insurance and real estate development, according to a paid obit in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
A 2007 Sporting News story detailed his full-blown dementia with his neuropsychiatrist linking his disease to his football playing career.
Surviving relatives include his wife of 55 years, Kay Wilder Morris, currently of Flowery Branch, Georgia, son Chris and wife Cindy, and their children Olivia and Micah; son Britt and wife Kathy, and their children Katie, Emma, and Charlie; son Shan and wife Meri Beth, and their children Carson and Claire; daughter Kayanne and husband Eddie Staub, and their children Kaylin, Daniel, Nathan, Anna and Joseph.
A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Jan. 4 at Mt. Vernon Baptist Church in Sandy Springs. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Eagle Ranch, a Christian children's home at Eagle Ranch, P.O. Box 7200, Chestnut Mountain, GA 30502.