The league changed things up this year. Instead of sending each team’s drafted rookies off to a singular event hosted by the NFL, each team will have their own Rookie Transition Program, which will include all rookies – drafted and undrafted – and be put on by each individual club.
Last week the Raiders had their Rookie Transition Program, and among the many lessons the rookies learned, one of the more shocking stories came from former Raiders middle linebacker and Oakland Native, Kirk Morrison, who learned his rookie lesson at the end of a gun.
“Money, women and jewelry,” Morrison said as reported in the San Francisco Chronicle. “I didn’t feel like I was accepted until I bought a chain, so I spent $40,000 on one because that’s what I needed for validation. People knew I was in the league right when they saw me. Or I needed my own table or my own bottles at the club.”
“I had a gun pointed at my chest, felt that steel right in the middle of my chest. My life was about to be over. … That split second, my life changed. As much as you’ve accomplished or as hard as you’ve worked to get some validation, people don’t see that. Or they’re jealous and want to take it from you.
“I learned the hard way about the validation that is important. I never bought a chain again, and the kind of attention I wanted was after a game, a teammate or coach saying, ‘Good job. You played hard.’”
Morrison was a graduate of Bishop O’Dowd High School in Oakland before heading to San Diego State for college. He became a third round pick by the Raiders in the 2005 draft and spent five seasons as the team’s everyday starting middle linebacker, never missing a game.
He was traded during the 2010 draft after the Raiders used their first round pick on Rolando McClain. After starting all of the 2010 season for the Jaguars, he finished out his career as a reserve with the Bills before retiring from football.
These days Morrison is an analyst for Fox Sports. And when the Raiders offered him the chance to come back and speak, he didn’t hesitate.
Morrison was one of several speakers who shared their personal NFL experiences with the rookies in the hopes that their mistakes and successes could make a positive impact. Also among the speakers was former NFL player and current NFL media analyst, Bucky Brooks, who played the final six games of his career in Oakland.