You have to understand the background here. Back in 1974 Morris was so upset with Shula that he put a voodoo curse on him. He had been unhappy about splitting time with Jim Kiick at halfback. He had ripped Shula in the papers. The Dolphins would end the '74 regular season against the Patriots and then face the Oakland Raiders in the first round of the playoffs. Morris had been out with a bad knee. Shula and the team doctor said he was ready to play. Morris said he wasn't. There was a bitter exchange, and after the Patriot game Morris, who didn't play, put the voodoo on the coach.
"I went to see this Haitian root man, King Solomon, on 54th and 12th," Morris says. "I told him, 'Shula's trying to kill me. I don't want him hurt, but I want him off me.' I see that you're laughing, but believe me, you'd go down to his place, and you'd see lawyers there and people like that waiting for him to put some roots on somebody.
"The night before we left for Oakland, I was out in the backyard at 2 a.m., saying chants. I made a Shula doll and put it in a box and buried it. Before the game I was chewing roots on the field. In my shoe I had a piece of paper with a spider web on it, and written underneath was the word confused.
"During the game our starting cornerback, Tim Foley, got hurt, and they put in Henry Stuckey, the third-stringer, instead of Lloyd Mumphord, the regular backup. Cliff Branch ran by Stuckey for a 72-yard touchdown. On the bench everyone's asking our defensive coordinator, Vince Costello, 'Why is Stuckey in there?' Then someone said, 'He must be confused.'
"That was the game where Clarence Davis caught the pass that beat us in the last minute. Afterward our left tackle Wayne Moore, who knew what I'd done, said to me, 'Damn, baby, you should have waited till next week so we could have gotten another check.' "
Why, pray tell, would a player do that to his own coach, his own team? "Because I was 27 and wild and crazy," Morris says. "I'm a grown man now. Sport does not provide you with away to grow up, just to grow old. You grow up after football, and it was only after growing up that I understood Don Shula and saw the contribution he has made to the game."
Recently the story of the voodoo curse was relayed to Shula. He'd never heard it. He listened to it in its entirety without a trace of a smile. "Confused?" he said. "Merc said we were confused? I guess he didn't know that Mumphord was hurt, that he couldn't have gone in."
Bring on the powers of darkness, but do not ever question Shula's football knowledge. You don't remain so high, for so long, by being confused.