Mike Morris / by Michael Falco

Who is Mike Morris?

Mike Morris is a Cheyenne native. Currently, Morris works at the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, although he previously worked for the Denver Broncos Team Media staff and covered the 2013 team that went to Super Bowl 48. He has a bachelor's degree in English and honors program studies from the University of Wyoming. He was born and raised in Cheyenne by his parents, Don and Carole Lee - who met in Manhattan but eventually settled in Cheyenne, where Mike's father taught public school for 35 years. He has two older sisters. Mike attended public schools in Cheyenne and graduated from Central High School in 2007. Mike is the volunteer director of the Fridays in the Asher music and arts series in Cheyenne, and he also serves on the Board of Directors of Arts Cheyenne, a 501(c)(3) organization committed to the artistic and cultural enrichment of the local community. Mike identifies politically as a Democrat and his religious beliefs are Agnostic, but very spiritual. Mike extends his appreciation to the organizers and researchers involved with the Facing Whiteness study.

Excerpt from interview with Mike Morris by Samuel Lutzker, 2018

Morris: [00:42:22] Yes, yes. Man, you know—I don’t know what—I mean, yes, if we’re talking about identity, for sure growing up—man, I just loved, loved watching sports and loved reading about sports, loved eventually writing sports and everything about that industry. There was just something very profound. And it still is to this day. Because I believe it’s one hundred percent—it’s improvised. It’s not scripted. And to me it provides a drama that’s at times even more powerful than anything in theater. There’s remarkable human elements to sport. And then also you have people doing things that normal people can’t accomplish. And that always to me was awesome.

So I grew up watching John Elway do all of these remarkable things on the football field for the Denver Broncos. And that to me was like—man, if I could realize all my hopes and dreams in life, it would be that I could go someday work for the Denver Broncos and be a part of that organization. Now, I never in my wildest dreams thought that that would actually happen. But it did. And I was very fortunate. If you talk about my decision for getting out of it—I had all sorts of opportunities to continue down that path and to continue—I could have had some opportunities in the NFL [National Football League] full time with other teams around the League in other cities, different parts of the country.

But several things went into that decision. I think one was I was insanely fortunate that intern year to be with a very special team that went to the Super Bowl and accomplished so much. And I got to spend time around so many prominent people. Peyton Manning, Champ Bailey, Von Miller. That I felt like I almost got the full gauntlet of experience. People work their whole careers in sports and not experience that again. And I knew that there was—people don’t realize it, but there is the other side of the coin where there’s minutia in sports, too. You hit those day-to-days where not anything really that interesting is happening.

With that said, gosh, the grind of it was intense. During the season, eighty, ninety-hour weeks for interns at least. But the other thing is that it doesn’t pay particularly well until you get way up into the higher realms of it. And I wasn’t sure that I wanted to put in years and years scraping by.
I’m very driven fiscally. I started a lawn mowing business when I was ten or eleven. And I wanted to make sure I was setting myself up financially, too.

So here’s one thing that’s going to be unique that I will divulge and is probably—for some people, they would say, “That’s not something you should be proud of.” But to be real with you, for two years after I came back from Denver—and had a full time job and something that I was very pleased with where I was at salary-wise and this and that. But I came back and lived at home with my folks for two years and saved and invested that money and made—because, like, my parents—one was a teacher. And my mom didn’t work full time for a number of years when they were raising us. So they were like, “Well, here’s a financial opportunity that we can afford you.” And I took it. And I’m always grateful for them for that opportunity.

But that is definitely not something that is, A, cool or sexy to do for millennials, and, B, is very much different from what most millennials have done. That’s like—okay, by and large the—what—millennial dream is let’s move to an urban, trendy city. Let’s scrape by. We’re going to pay a lot of money for rent, this and that. Definitely not move back to your hometown in small area Wyoming and live at home with your folks. But for me, it was a rewarding one in that I got to actually spend a lot of quality time with my folks in that regard. And then I just ended up reengaging with my community so much. And then of course, on the financial side, I think it was something that was beneficial to do.

Interview Transcript