"Joe," hollers his mother, Addie, "you know you ain't supposed to sit on that sofa."
"Joe, I've been hearing you talk."
"And you're the best one. Always have been, always will be."
"Thanks, Mom." And he allows himself a small smile. Actually, there are a lot of smiles in this family of flat-out incredible athletes, headed by father Earl, a no-nonsense former' Army sergeant who believes in nothing but straight lines and 90-degree corners, and a similarly no-nonsense mother, who had a go at basketball and Softball back in North Carolina and who can strike fear in any heart with her tongue or with her eyes.
"I think all this 'yes, ma'am, no, ma'am' stuff is old-fashioned," says Addie, "but Earl seems to like it." Still, for all the discipline, there is a lot of love on Markham Circle in Condo 2A. It's a mixture of Ozzie and Harriet ("Hi, Mom. Hi, Dad. Hi, Joe. Hi, Larry. Hi, Mike. Hi, Jamie. What's for dinner?"), Father Knows Best and Norman Rockwell.
Indeed, it's impossible to overstate the role of the family in any evaluation of the athletic success of the Morris boys. Ayer High athletic director Chet Steele says, "The good Lord gave these boys some pretty decent ability and a damned outstanding family to grow up in." The Morrises are outstanding not because they're smart, not because they're rich, but because They Are a Family. The boys behave, they study and they play sports. That's it. When they're not in school or at sport, the boys are always home. "I just like to sit around and talk to my mom," says Joe. "The best thing I can say about my parents is they made us better human beings than they did football players."