Decade after playing for John Fox, Dan Morgan wants to beat him

JERSEY CITY — Dan Morgan admits he felt nervous before Super Bowl XXXVIII, but he doesn't think that's why he spent the previous night vomiting.

Morgan still blames a bad burger he ate the night before the game, at a resort then-Carolina Panthers coach John Fox took his team to about an hour outside of Houston, but he said the sickness actually might have helped him.

"I felt really light on my feet," said Morgan, who received an IV before kickoff, started at middle linebacker and had a game-high 18 tackles (11 solo) in a 32-29 loss to the New England Patriots in February, 2004.

"I think maybe part of it was just because of all the throwing up I did. I did lose a good 8 pounds. I filled the whole bathtub up. It was pretty bad."

A decade later, Fox will be back on the sideline for Super Bowl XLVIII with the Denver Broncos. Morgan — a one-time Pro Bowl pick before injuries derailed his playing career — is also back, though in a less visible role.

Retired since 2009, Morgan is in his third season as a scout for the Seattle Seahawks, who brought him aboard as an intern, hired him full-time in 2011 and promoted him to assistant pro personnel director last summer.

"It's nice just being in the background, working your butt off and helping the team out as much as you can," Morgan said. "I have a ton of fun with it and it's a great group of guys in Seattle that we work with."

General manager John Schneider gave Morgan a chance on the recommendation of Trent Kirchner, now the Seahawks' pro personnel director, who was scouting for the Panthers during that Super Bowl year and often would discuss opposing players with Morgan on the sideline.

Now Morgan is helping mold a Seahawks roster that's a win away from the franchise's first NFL title — but must get past the Broncos, led by his old coach.
"I get to see him around a lot. I think he's the same guy," Morgan said of Fox, 58, who spent nine years with the Panthers (2002 to '10) before his contract wasn't renewed after a 2-14 finish in his final season, then made the move to Denver.

"He's a players' coach, and guys always liked him. He knows when to be tough on you, and he knows when to back down and take it easy. He was good. He was a lot of fun to play for."

Another coach who was on that 2003 Panthers staff, tight ends coach Dave Magazu, now coaches the Broncos' offensive line. Defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio is among a handful of others who were on Fox's staffs in Carolina, but not during the Super Bowl year.

Setting aside his stomach issues the night before, Morgan said his most vivid memory of that game was the streaker who ran onto the field as players awaited the second-half kickoff and got decked by Patriots linebacker Matt Chatham.

"We're all serious and then it kind of broke the ice a little bit, because you've got a guy running around the field in a G-string," Morgan said. "It's definitely a different kind of nervousness. You know there's a whole lot on the line."

Being out of the spotlight makes Super Bowl week "definitely more relaxing," Morgan said. But there are sure to be some nerves Sunday for both him and Fox, who hasn't gotten any smack-talking texts from his former middle linebacker yet.

"No, I figured I'd stay away from them and let him enjoy himself a little bit," Morgan said. "I'm sure I'll see him. It's weird, definitely, playing against him. But hopefully, we come out on the winning end."

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