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Ivy Leaguer climbs higher

Steelers' Morey finds special place

He was cut by Bill Belichick off the Patriots' practice squad late in 2000, but wide receiver Sean Morey, a seventh-round pick of the Patriots in 1999, wouldn't go away. He kept plugging away at an NFL job, competing against his football-factory contemporaries after a storied career at Brown, where he was the Ivy League Player of the Year in 1997.

Maybe he was a little short on size and speed, but his determination was relentless.

Next Sunday, he will become the first Brown player in history to play in the Super Bowl. He has already played in four conference championship games, two for the Philadelphia Eagles and two for the Pittsburgh Steelers. But he never got to the Super Bowl, being cut by the Patriots a year before they made the Super Bowl and by the Eagles a year before they made it.

Morey, now the Steelers' special teams captain, has not only survived but carved out quite a niche for himself. He is the Pro Bowl special teams alternate in case San Diego's Hanik Milligan can't participate.

While he has fallen short of his goal to become a regular receiver in the NFL, Morey, who is listed at 5 feet 11 inches, 200 pounds, hasn't given up on it. For now, he can only dream of making a big play that could prove the turning point in Super Bowl XL.

He has become an integral component of the Steelers, a leader, and a role model for players trying to make it against all odds.

''I'm dreaming of blocking a punt or creating a turnover, or something like that," said Morey. ''I think, first of all, you always dream of playing in a Super Bowl, and now that it's happened, you hope to do something to help your team win."

Morey's agent, Mike Clohisy, once said that Morey, who has a degree in organizational behavior/management, was so smart that it wouldn't surprise him if he ''played in the league and ran it someday."

Bill Parcells once said that it's the smart players who understand what their role is, and the enterprising ones who take that role and expand it. Parcells often looked at Troy Brown that way; Brown was one of Parcells's poster children for overachievement.

''I do a lot of work at receiver during the week," said Morey, who caught 251 passes for 3,850 yards and 39 touchdowns at Brown. ''I'll usually take film of the opposing team and study their slot receiver and then try to mimic him during the week in practice so our DBs get a good look at what they're going up against. I've done that with Brandon Stokley, for instance.

''I know that there's a perception that if you're on the scout team, well, that's the lowest level on an NFL team. But I don't see it that way and I know my teammates are very appreciative of it. I remember back when I was a rookie in New England, I'd do the same for Steve Israel and he always thanked me and told me how much it helped him."

While Hines Ward, Antwaan Randle El, Cedrick Wilson, and Quincy Morgan are ahead of him on the depth chart at receiver, Morey hasn't lost his faith.

''I work at it every day and I feel I've come a long way," Morey said. ''I practice at a high level and I try to make it as competitive as I can in practice. I'm always ready in case I'm called upon, and I know I could help as a receiver if that were what I was asked to do.

''But right now my job is special teams, and it's an important job on our team. We stress special teams a lot here. Coach [Bill] Cowher really believes the play of special teams can win or lose a game."

He can be a tone-setter, for sure. He knows a big hit, a turnover, a blocked punt or field goal, can change the tempo of a game. It's highlighted even more in the Super Bowl.

Morey, a month shy of his 30th birthday, wants to make sure he doesn't get overly excited.

''I've gotten a lot of advice from friends who have been and played in the Super Bowl," he said. ''It's all about not getting too excited. I was told it's a long pregame and a long halftime, so try to relax, take your pads off, and chill out for a while. Don't get too amped up, save it for the field."

Yet, he said, the success of the Steelers is due to the fact that they have played with desperation the past five or six weeks. They've played desperate football, said Morey, but they've also played smart.

In Denver, for example, Morey thought the training staff did a great job preparing the Steelers for altitude, advising players about breathing patterns and hydration.

Comrades and campers
While Morey's job as a gunner on special teams is often one of reckless abandon, there seems to be more purpose in every step he takes.

''I'm more efficient," he said. ''I don't waste energy. I try to make my blocks. Sometimes you're going to get the bear and sometimes the bear gets you.

''I go into the game excited and confident, where before I'd get too amped up and maybe I'd overpursue."

Morey said these Steelers are the best team he's ever played for. He thinks much of it has to do with the closeness and camaraderie of the team. He said their confidence in quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is through the roof, but it's a team that doesn't need a lot of vocal leaders because ''we're all so close; we're all friends."

Morey is the local kid who continues to inspire youngsters around him. His summer camp in Marshfield is among the most popular football camps in the Northeast.

''It's amazing the numbers of kids who have come up to me or written me to say they're pursuing football because of the example I've set," he said. ''That's what makes you feel good. That's what fuels your desire to do even more in this game.

''It's great to see kids love the game the way I've always loved it. Maybe I can show them what hard work and determination can get you."

And on Sunday, he can teach them about perseverance as well. Being cut can be difficult to deal with. But by Sunday night, Morey will have played in a Super Bowl, and who knows, maybe even have had a major hand in winning it.

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