Important Note Regarding Consignments Wanted by 4/15: In addition to the items featured throughout this post, Small Traditions LLC is seeking a small selection of additional high-end items valued $1,000 and up for our 4th Annual Spring Premium Auction. The auction is already nearly full, so please don’t wait until the consignment deadline of April 15th, especially if you’d like to guarantee premium placement for your premium items, and especially if you’d like to take advantage of our Cost-Free Grading promotion. Call 303.832.1975 or write firstname.lastname@example.org today.
March 23, 2016 – Denver, CO. Like most athletes who played parts of their careers in the Empire State, Joe Morrison of the New York Football Giants earned his share of nicknames: Old Dependable, they called him, Mr. Versatility, Captain, Most Valuable Player, Mr. Wonderful even. After his playing career, he earned yet another name when he surprised the nation and coached the USC Gamecocks to the Gator Bowl, earning himself honors as the Walter Camp National College Football Coach of the Year. “The Man in Black,” they dubbed him in Columbia. And USC’s unforgettable season: “Black Magic.”
“The Ultimate Team Player,” Giants owner Wellington Mara called him, Morrison didn’t just play part of his career in New York. He played all 14 seasons of it there. Drafted in 1959 out of Cincinnati, where he still holds most team passing and scoring records, the Lima, Ohio native played seven different positions in blue until his retirement in 1972. At the press conference in which he announced his retirement, then Giants head coach Alex Webster told the crowd that nobody would ever wear #40 for the Giants again, and so Old Dependable became the tenth player in team history to be honored by having his jersey retired.
To this day, Morrison remains among the Giants’ team leaders in several categories:
- 14 Years Played — 2nd
- 184 Games Played — 5th
- 65 Total Touch Downs — 3rd
- 47 Receiving Touch Downs — 3rd
- 395 Receptions — 3rd
- 4,993 Receiving Yards — 4th
Some other statistics that can’t be found at Pro-Football-Reference.com include Morrison’s seven seasons named as team captain and his five team MVP awards. Even more impressive than his numbers, however, was the high esteem in which he was held by teammates, coaches, student players, community leaders, and fans. Indeed, long before other accomplished New York captains like Thurman Munson and Derek Jeter captured the hearts of the sporting world, there was Joe Morrison. Always there. Always dependable. Always respected.
A testament to both his leadership and his knowledge of the game, Coach Joe Morrison was one of only a few major college head coaches to never serve as an assistant coach. In 1987, he earned further recognition as the Southern Independent Coach of the Year, and in 1988 he earned yet another honor with his selection as one of three head coaches to lead the East players in the College Football All Star Game at the Hula Bowl. A year later, after winning his 100th game at age 51, he tragically fell victim to congestive heart failure, leaving the USC community and the college football world in shock, and departing this world just as abruptly as he had seemed to storm it.
Some notable names who played or coached under Joe Morrison include:
- Charlie Weis
- Al Groh
- Robert Brooks
- Sterling Sharpe
- Harold Green
- Brad Edwards
Small Traditions LLC is honored to have been selected to present the Joe Morrison Collection in our forthcoming April online event, from 4/17 to 4/30, which we have appropriately dubbed our Spring Premium “Black Magic” Auction. In addition to an impressive selection of high-grade sports cards and rare autographs, the auction will also include the following items from the estate of Coach Joe Morrison, several of which are previewed throughout this post:
- Joe Morrison 1959 Rookie Year Game-Used New York Giants #40 Jersey
- Joe Morrison 1958 College All Stars Full Uniform
- 1959 New York Giants Eastern Division Champions Team Signed Football
- Iconic Coach Joe Morrison Black Jacket Worn During Every Game
- Joe Morrison Game-Worn 1984 Gator Bowl Sweater
- Joe Morrison College Recruitment Letter Collection
- Joe Morrison NY Giants Correspondence Collection w/ 1972 Contract
- 1967 NFL Touchdown Club Most Valuable Player Award
- 1985 Frank McGuires Award for Athletic Excellence
- 1988 Commemorative 100th Win Sterling Silver Plate
- 1987 Hand Written Letter From President George H. Bush