Former Raiders LB Kirk Morrison enjoys pre-game from the sideline. Photo by Tony Gonzales
A familiar face was back at O.co Coliseum to watch the Raiders conclude the 2014 preseason with a win over the Seattle Seahawks, 41-31. Oakland native, and former Raiders linebacker, Kirk Morrison was back at his old stomping grounds Thursday night, watching the game, taking over the Raiders Twitter, and spending some time in the broadcast booth.
After being drafted by the Raiders in the third round of the 2005 NFL draft, Morrison spent the first five seasons of his career wearing the Silver and Black and was excited to be back in Oakland to watch his childhood team hit the field.
"It feels great," said Morrison. "I love being here. I call the Black Hole a second home because I was here every Sunday when the Raiders moved back here. Rain, snow, shine, it didn't matter, I was going to be here because I've been a diehard Raiders fan my whole life."
During his five years in Oakland, the San Diego State product played in all 16 games each season and tallied six total interceptions. But, for Morrison, the best memories of his time as a Raider revolved predominately around his interactions with Raider Nation.
"For me, it was just coming through that tunnel," he said. "I was one of the ones who was not only a fan, but I also became a player, yet the fan in me still stayed. So it was great to continue to still be a fan while I was still playing. Those are the memories I have walking through the tunnel and being around such greatness. "
Morrison has kept a keen eye on the Raiders and is excited about what the 2014 edition of the team is set to look like, in particular with a new veteran presence anchoring the Silver and Black.
"I think I'm just excited because you see a vision," Morrison said. "That vision is starting to become clearer for not only the players, but management, the fans, everybody. You see the players they brought in. They brought in, not just guys who played in the league, but Super Bowl champions."
He continued, "That's what I'm optimistic about for this year, because those guys like LaMarr Woodley, Justin Tuck, James Jones, Matt Schaub, they can bring that leadership; they're going to play with a chip on their shoulder. They're at a point in their career where they want to prove to people that they can still play at a high level, and I'm excited to see that."
With his playing days now behind him, Morrison is preparing to begin a second career in broadcasting, but his allegiance to his hometown team remains the same.
"It was an unbelievable experience," he said when describing his time in Oakland. "I'll forever cherish those memories. You have to understand, when you grow up and start thinking about playing football, it's all about your hometown team, and for me, that was the Oakland Raiders."
In particular, he singled out one moment at the Coliseum that has stayed with him years later.
"To think about playing on that field, and wearing that jersey and for it to say 'Morrison' on the back, I never would have imagined that," he explained. "The first time I walked out onto that field, I was in tears because it was like a dream that came true for me."
Five years after his career as a Raider ended, Morrison is firmly entrenched as a proud member of Raider Nation, and is optimistic that the product on the field in 2014 will give fans a reason to smile.