“Kirk Morrison is going to be the next hot sports guy. He’s doing the dirty work while he’s still playing. A lot of players wait until they’re done playing before they start investing into their life after football.” – Former NFL player and NBC Sports broadcaster Akbar Gbaja-Biamila
We couldn’t pass at the opportunity to speak with the next hot sports guy in NFL linebacker Kirk Morrison.
The free agent has spent his time during the NFL lockout by grinding away in the radio profession, working alongside Rob Dibble on Fox Sports Radio.
Morrison isn’t a rookie to the broadcast world. He got his first break at San Diego State, where the All-American called high school football games for the local NBC affiliate. Prior to his current gig, Morrison was the co-host of the Aztec Power Hour with Darren Smith on XX 1090 in San Diego.
SportsNewser chatted with the 29-year-old about working with Dibble and his thoughts on if the 2011 NFL season will begin on time.
SportsNewser: When did your itch for broadcasting begin?
Kirk Morrison: It began when I was in college. I was about 20 and it just so happened that I was 2-3 years into my major at San Diego State. As I became a spokesman for my football team because I had some success as an All-American as a freshman, the media would always want to talk to me. I was the guy for about 3-4 years and next thing you know, I was always doing radio shows and TV interviews. I wanted to switch it up and go into communications and do something involved with that. People said I expressed my thoughts very clearly and you go out and have a strong opinion. I did a little color commentary while I was still in college. I did high school games for the local station (Channel 4 San Diego) and from then on, I said this is what I want to do outside of football.
Biggest media influence?
I would say Warren Sapp. He’s been a big influence along with Marcellus Wiley. I’ve known Marcellus since I was in college and the vision he gave me while he was still playing is one that I still use to this day. The same with Warren Sapp, who was my teammate in Oakland during my first four years. I’ve known Sapp for a very long time and he taught me a lot about the game and being an influence off the field and having a strong opinion. He’s a guy who definitely has a strong opinion. People have criticized him about it. Being in the media word, I think everyone is entitled to their opinion, whether they’re right or wrong. We can’t judge somebody or get mad for their opinion. That’s just how they feel. I’ve learned that along the way and I’ve learned a lot from those two guys.
Your younger brother, Aaron, is also is in the journalism industry. What role has he played during your journey in the broadcast world?
We are both passionate about journalism, columnists and things like that. But we share different views. He’s more of the political side. It’s always funny when we cross paths about certain topics. I always ask him to tell me about this issue. The last thing we talked about, I asked him about Congressman [Anthony] Weiner. I asked what’s next for him and do you see him getting back into politics. He was like I don’t know yet, but it’s good to get Aaron’s insight on that. I kind of keep in contact with him about the lockout a little bit, but like I said, we are on two ends of the spectrum when it comes to politics and sports.
Best piece of advice someone in the media has given you so far?
I can’t remember who said it, but someone told me to do everything. Do as much as you can. The more you do, the more practice it is and the more comfortable you get. If you never do it or you’re very selective about what you do, it just kind of messes you up a little bit. The more and more I do, I get comfortable. I develop questions and a routine about certain things. You never know whey you might be asked the same question later on. I try to do everything – whether it’s talking about sports, politics, etc.
You’ve developed this huge presence on Twitter – – who are some of your favorite athletes or media personalities to follow?
I love following Michael Smith (@MrMichael_Smith), J.A. Adande (@jadande), Skip Bayless,(@realskipbayless), Jim Trotter (@Si_jimtrotter) from Sports Illustrated. These are guys I like to follow because they stay informative and give you a lot of up-to-date news.
Have you thought about coming up with a nickname for your Twitter followers?
No, I never have. That’s a good idea. I know Jim Rome on his radio show, he calls everyone “Clones.” I don’t know about the Kirk Morrison backing on Twitter. I have to find a group name that I can make sure to get a shout out to in the morning.
What’s it like working with Rob Dibble on Fox Sports Radio?
Dibs is great. It was sort of bitter when I first met him. I grew up an Oakland A’s fan and Dibs played for the 1990 Cincinnati Reds team that swept the A’s. I just had a vision of him from that year and how dominant that team was. I always had a chip on my shoulder about Dibs. Once I met the guy – and that was all joking around – he’s a great guy to work with. Nothing but the best time. I have the opportunity to come in every single week and work with him. The amount of knowledge he has, especially baseball knowledge, I love it. He’s a guy that’s been around the game, won a World Series and gone up against some of the greatest of all-time. The amount of knowledge he has is invaluable. You can’t get that anywhere else.
Do you think Dibble gets a bad wrap for speaking his mind?
I think a lot of people get bad wraps, not just Dibs. Some people have strong opinions. That’s what you need to have. You can’t always keep everybody happy. Sometimes the more you do radio, the more your opinion is going to be out there. You have to formulate an opinion. Sometimes people won’t listen to you if you’re always correct or go with the mainstream on a lot of things. On Sunday we had the soccer, which was a huge deal. It was great. I watched every bit of it, but let’s be honest – women’s soccer is the lowest of the lowest in American sports. Nobody cares about it until its on TV and we’re winning. Had they lost Sunday, it would have been who cares, on to the next program. You really have to watch what you say sometimes because some people can always take an offense to anything I’ve said.
How optimistic are you that the 2011 NFL season will begin on time?
You hope so. There’s still a lot that needs to be done. No matter what, it’s going to be a different season. It’s going to be one of the more unique seasons that we’ve ever been a part of. People think that as soon as we get this lockout done, it’s back to normal. No. The chemistry of teams have to be put together. You have to worry about holdouts and things like that. Even though it’s on the verge of getting done, there’s still a lot of other work to be done also. The evolution process, which would usually take the entire offseason, is now going to be pretty quick. It’s a lot that’s going to happen whenever football does get back going again. I know I’ve waited long enough and I’m ready to get back to it.
When football does resume, how will it impact your broadcast schedule on Fox Sports Radio?
The show will be impacted, definitely. We will work something out where we can get a timeslot together and where I can still have my voice on radio. Whenever the season ends next year, hopefully after the Super Bowl, I’ll get back to the radio. I hosted a show every Monday morning while I was in Jacksonville last year. It was fun. I want to continue to keep bringing that knowledge I have and keep expressing it through radio.
Better Jaguars radio personality: You or Maurice Jones-Drew?[Laughs] I got to say myself. Maurice is so good at everything else that I got to to give myself one-up on him for that. He’s great at the Madden. He’s good at Call of Duty. He’s one of the best running backs in the league. He has to give me at least one victory in this one.