Chicago Bears Countdown to Kickoff: 47 Days with Johnny Morris

Chicago Bears, Johnny Morris
Chicago Bears, Johnny Morris / David Boss-USA TODAY Sports
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Chicago Bears
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Johnny Morris' legacy with the Chicago Bears franchise

Johnny Morris stepped away from the NFL after a ten-year career, all of which came with the Bears, where he totaled nearly 6,100 offensive yards, 37 total tackles, and over 2,000 yards as a returner. Outside of his league-leading 1964 season, Morris also led the Bears in receiving yards during the following 1965 season, taking the torch from Ditka who had led the team during the previous three seasons.

Even today, Morris's 5,059 receiving yards as a Bear is the best in franchise history, and by a fairly decent margin. The only recent player to even approach this number is Alshon Jeffrey, but Morris's numbers dwarf those of other great receivers in team history such as Curtis Conway, Marty Booker, and Willie Gault.

After stepping away from the game of football as the team's leading receiver, Morris stayed very close to both the game of football and the city of Chicago. Morris's then-wife, Jeannie, had served as a writer covering the Bears during parts of her husband's tenure. With his wife pioneering the industry and contributing to newspapers such as Chicago Daily News, Morris decided to join Jeannie in his retirement plans, and the two worked together for several years for WMAQ Channel 5 in Chicago.

The two met while enrolled at Santa Barbara, and for as great as Johnny was on the field, Jeannie had a Hall-of-Fame-caliber career in her own right. An abbreviated list of major accomplishments includes working with Brian Piccolo's family to pen the book Brian Piccolo: A Short Season in 1971, becoming the first female to report from the Super Bowl in 1975, and becoming the first female to be awarded the Ring Lardner Award for work in sports journalism.


It is hard to imagine the story of the Chicago Bears being the same without either Morris doing their part, whether it be on the gridiron or in the media room, but it is clear that both individuals took great lengths to pave the road in front of them for future pass catchers and sports journalists.