Former Hofstra coach takes over Atlanta Falcons
Raheem Morris wants to make the most of his second opportunity as the Atlanta Falcons' coach.
That means helping the Falcons achieve something they couldn't during what he called the most painful loss of his career.
Morris, a former Hofstra University player and coach, was named Atlanta's coach on Jan. 25. His first news conference on Monday came on the seventh anniversary of the Falcons blowing a 28-3 lead and losing the Super Bowl 34-28 to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots when Morris was an Atlanta assistant.
Morris brought up the Super Bowl loss and said he will be motivated to bring Atlanta its first championship. He was an assistant with the Falcons from 2015-20 and their interim head coach in 2020, and he said the lingering pain from that game is “a part of coming home.”
“That 2016 loss, it stings as bad as any one I’ve ever had,” Morris said before adding “actually the worst I’ve ever had.”
Morris - who won a Super Bowl after the 2021 season as the Los Angeles Rams' defensive coordinator - said he is motivated “to come back here and get some real cool redemption” for the Falcons and their owner, Arthur Blank. “I want to watch Arthur Blank and Warrick Dunn hold up the trophy.”
Dunn, a former Falcons running back, owns a minority share in the team. Blank, 81, did not attend the news conference due to a “minor medical” issue, according to Brett Jewkes, vice president and chief communications officer for Blank's family businesses. Jewkes said Blank was resting and “doing very well.”
Morris was 4-7 as Atlanta's interim coach in 2020, leaving his career record at 21-38, including three seasons with Tampa Bay. Morris also was interviewed after the 2020 season, when Arthur Smith ultimately got the job.
Smith was fired hours after the completion of his third consecutive 7-10 season. He was subsequently hired as the Pittsburgh Steelers' offensive coordinator.
Morris is the first non-interim Black coach in Falcons history. Morris and GM Terry Fontenot, who also is Black, will report to Blank.
The 47-year-old Morris had his wife, children and parents in the audience.
“I do understand the importance of being the first Black coach in Atlanta history without an interim tag,” Morris said. “The coolest thing about this whole process was it wasn’t even brought up.”
“He’s got two rings,” Fontenot said of Morris, who also won a Super Bowl as a Tampa Bay assistant. “We’re going to get him another.”