Thamail Morgan took the kickoff and headed up the field.Morgan's team was playing a small rural Arkansas co-op team (a combination of two smaller schools who combine in order to field a football team) that had suffered the tragic loss of a player due to a car accident. This co-op team took the field as part of the healing process and Morgan's team clearly dominated the game, but rather than simply running up the score, Morgan's gesture is a symbol of class, of not kicking a team when they were down, recognizing that by simply taking the field in their circumstances is important enough.
He was at the 20 ... 30 ... 40
He had been avoiding, dodging or just simply running through tacklers on the way. Football always had come easily for Morgan. This game was no different. By the time he hit midfield, only open space was ahead of him. The two-time Arkansas all-state selection was headed for a touchdown.
40 ... 30 ... 20
He glanced at the clock and saw the final seconds ticking away. He realized his team, Cave City, was on the way to a victory over Yellville-Summit, comfortably ahead, 34-16. He also realized two other things: This wasn't an ordinary game. And he wasn't the same Thamail Morgan.
When he reached the 2, he stopped. He took a few steps back and took a knee at the 5-yard line.
"I did not tell him to kneel down, he did it on his own," Bradley said. "I did not expect them to kick it to him. I figured they would kick away, because he has the ability to break away. I did not know that he was going to do what he did. He broke tackles, ran sideline to sideline, and got to the 2, and just stopped. That is when he backed up and took a knee on the 5-yard line."
Morgan did not do this completely on his own.
"We were on the sidelines yelling for him not to score," Bradley said. "Some of the players on the field were saying it, too. But I'm not sure how much he could have heard all of it."
He heard it, Morgan admitted. But he didn't need to.
"Before the game, we as a team talked about being classy,'' he said. "We did not want to come out in a game like this and not show any class.
"As I was running, some of my teammates told me not to score, and I knew that scoring was not the right thing to do."
He was glad to be a part of what happened.
"I just want to thank my teammates for not only being classy all night, but pushing me to be classy as well,'' he said.
The gesture was well received.
"We weren't sure how gloomy they would be before the game,'' Morgan said. "They had gloom, but it was not as bad as we thought. We met before the game, and they told us that they did not want us to feel sorry for them, and they did not want us to back off just because of what happened. They wanted us to play them like we would have if Duffy has still been there with them, so we did.
"After the game, they complimented us, and even thanked us for the way that we played them. They are some really cool cats, and I wish them the best of luck with their healing process and the rest of their season. I hope they make the playoffs."
Read the whole story, because Morgan's own story is interesting and this episode may actually rebuild Morgan's own damaged future.