By Marguerite Cleveland
Photo Courtesy Samantha Elise Tillman
Former Seattle Seahawk Randall “Too Hot” Morris made Seattle his home after his career in the NFL. He established his own company Morris Janitorial Services, LLC and continues to raise money to support local charities through the Randall Morris Foundation for Youth and Families.
Q. Your son Trey is following in your footsteps playing football as starting quarterback at Rainier Beach High School. What is it like for you being a football dad versus down on the field playing?
A. I am so proud of Trey. Since he was born, he was made to play football and play the quarterback position. I’ve coached him since he was 7 years old to play that position. The days of playing football for me are long gone. I receive so much joy watching my son execute the things that we have practiced over and over again. I love the fact that he comes to me for guidance and understanding. It gives me joy to know that I have played at the highest level and that my son has the confidence in me to steer him in the right direction.
Q. The Randall Morris Foundation has raised and donated an impressive more than a half million dollars since its inception to mostly Pacific Northwest charities. How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected fundraising for the foundation, and how do you move forward and adjust at this time with all the uncertainty?
A. COVID-19 has affected our fundraising efforts in many ways. We are scheduled to host our 14th annual auction/gala in September. Our auction/gala is where we make the majority of our money for charities. It will be extremely difficult for us to go forward with our festivities because of the social distancing dilemma and people being afraid of contracting the virus. We will have to think outside of the box on fundraising this year. We are looking forward to doing a virtual auction online to try to raise money for charities. People and organizations are depending on us to be there for them, and I do not want to disappoint them.
As the founder of our foundation, I must be sensitive and a voice of reason. Nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of our supporters. We send our best wishes to all individuals and communities who have been affected by this horrific virus. We would like to thank all of our supporters during this challenging time.
Q. Like many former Seahawks players, you have continued to make the Seattle area your home. What was it about this area and community that made you decide to make it home?
A. I love Seattle! It’s beautiful! When the sun is out, there’s not a nicer place to be than here. Have I gotten used to the rain yet? No, but it’s still my home. The reason I made Seattle my home is that I knew one day I would get married and have a family. What better place to raise a family than Seattle, Washington? I laid my roots down here and have been able to spread my wings as well as my family, opportunity wise.
Q. You grew up in the 1960s in Alabama before schools were integrated. The first high school football game between a black and a white school did not take place until 1968. What impact did sports have on creating opportunities for you and other black students in the rural south?
A. I was born in Anniston, Alabama, but moved to Long Beach, California, at the age of 5. My mother felt that we would have a better chance of succeeding in California. I come from a family of nine siblings; six boys and three girls. Three of my older siblings were left behind with my father. One of my brothers who also played professional football would tell me stories about the lynchings, burning and shootings that they saw daily in Anniston.
He also told me that if you were a good athlete it felt like you got a pass or a get-out-of-jail card because you were excelling in sports and making them look good. It is the same way in today’s society. Nothing has changed. The Jim Crow laws were alive and in effect. My mother would always tell us two things: “As a black man you have to be twice as good to be equal,” and “Those who were last shall be first.” She said that it may not be in our lifetime, but it is going to happen.
Q. Small businesses have been so impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a business owner, how has your business been affected, particularly in relation to your employees?
A. This COVID-19 is no joke. I am a small business. I have 11 employees, and ever since this pandemic started, we have been on hold. I have lost contracts and employees because of no work. I am hoping that this will pass very soon. As far as my employees are concerned, many had to get other jobs because I could not compensate them. It’s a tough time right now.
“Tough times don’t last but tough people do.”