What do you make of the New Orleans Saints bounty allegations The NFL says bounties were offered for hard hits, including hits to injure opposing players. Much is still up in the air about this, and some players from other teams have said it's just football.
In the case of the Saints, did the results match the rhetoric? I'm asking you — I don't know.
But as to the idea that someone would be offered an incentive to take someone out?
I see it a different way. I see it as a form of creating competition. I'm not trying to soften or lessen what occurred, but I see it as an instrument — I'm not saying it's a good one — of creating competition among the players, an extra incentive, and not necessarily to hurt somebody. That's why I'm asking, did someone actually get hurt after the [bounty] talk? It's just a guess on my part that it was a competition created to be the first to put on a big hit. I'm not saying it's right. It's like someone in the stands talking a lot of trash. There's always a lot of talk.
Do you think these hits are a real problem, with real consequences later in life?
They've done studies on a lot of players who have suffered brain injuries, depression — from what I understand, caused them in some cases to commit suicide. Those things are very real. I'm not a neurologist; all I can say is that right now I'm not affected by it, but you never know down the road. I suffered two concussions, one in college and one in the pros, and many times I've seen stars.
The culture of the game has changed. I'm sure many of the guys who played in the '50s and '60s and even into the '70s would never have said, "Hey, I'm not feeling well." It was important to be on the field at all times. I was one of those tough players who always convinced [coaches] that I was OK. Now they take the necessary precautions, err on the side of caution. I'm not laying blame on the NFL; it had a lot to do with the athlete who always said he was fine.
You think the game is correcting itself?
I think it is. Athletes are speaking out.
Football season is ramping up; baseball is winding up toward the World Series. I expect you'd argue with baseball calling itself America's sport.
I think that was a great marketing ploy many years ago, but I think football is clearly the most popular sport of the big three.
This interview was edited and excerpted from a taped transcript. An archive of Morrison's interviews can be found at latimes.com/pattasks.