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September 23, 2021

Joey Moss left lasting impact on Morris

EDMONTON – When Chris Morris joined the Double E in 1992, he didn’t know who Joey Moss was.

But it didn’t take him long to find out.

“I met him at my first training camp at Concordia (University), and he’d go around those dorms at 5:20 in the morning, rattling on the doors, screaming for guys to get out of bed. That was my first introduction to him,” Morris said with a laugh.

Moss, who joined the Green and Gold in 1986, was a mainstay as a locker room attendant for decades, including during Morris’ 14 seasons between 1992 and 2005.

While much has been said about Moss’ impact on the organization, it’s hard to encapsulate exactly what he meant to the players and coaches who got to interact with him the most.

“It’s hard to explain to people that weren’t there. For every year that I was there, Joey added an element of humility, an element of humanity, an element of humour, and just an element of good feelings when he was around,” explained Morris.

“You see someone who has more challenges than a lot of us, doing so well with his life and being so happy most of the time, being content and purposeful…being around that can’t not have an impact on you. You just have to start seeing your life a little differently.”

CLICK HERE TO READ ABOUT THE ELKS JOEY MOSS AWARD

It’s an impact that continues to be felt across Edmonton, as Moss helped show the power of an inclusive workplace for people with disabilities. His legacy lives on through the Elks work with Winnifred Stewart and the Joey Moss Memorial Fund.

“It was really a testament to him and the culture of that organization for so many years of him being there and being a really good part of what we did,” Morris said of Moss’ long-lasting impact.

“He wasn’t just sort of there as a charity. He was a big part of things and (former equipment manager) Dwayne (Mandrusiak) included him in everything that we did. He was included in the work, just as much as he was included in the fun. He was just a huge positive impact on the culture.”

It’s an impact that transcended both the Green and Gold and Moss’ work with the Edmonton Oilers.

“It says a lot about the Edmonton community that he’s an important icon and that he was embraced as an icon,” Morris pointed out.

“There are lots of places where he might not have been an icon, but it says a lot about what this community values – the blue-collar nature of this community and the value of hard work and a positive attitude.”

“It was very much a symbiotic thing where Joey had a profound impact on the community, but the community had to be a certain way for that to take place. It was a win-win.”

Now approaching a decade as the University of Alberta’s head football coach, Morris is combining his background as an educator with his CFL experiences to help guide his mission of preparing young men through football.

“Knowing Joey and being part of that experience really embeds in you what this is all about. And what this is all about is helping young people figure out what’s good in their life, what’s bad in their life, and where they’re going,” the three-time Grey Cup champion explained.

“This is about life and progressing through life. Helping young men find their way and their best possible path through it.”

“My experience with Joey and the team, and the effect that he had on our culture there, it certainly set the foundation for me around what’s important and what’s not. Sometimes that’s easy to lose when you’re in a highly competitive environment.”

Morris and his Alberta Golden Bears make their long-awaited return to action this Saturday when they host the UBC Thunderbirds at Foote Field in the team’s Canada West conference opener (1:00 p.m. MT). Click here for tickets to the game (attendance capped at 1,000).

This article is part of the Elks ongoing work to honour the life and legacy of Joey Moss, as what would’ve been his 58th birthday approaches on September 25.