As the Atlanta Steam prepare for its second season of Legends Football League play, a sophomore slump may be likely. While change is a key part in the reality of professional sport, the Steam will be losing a key leader in 26 year old quarterback Brittany Morgan.
With the 5’9” Morgan as the Steam’s signal caller, the franchise experienced one of the most successful expansion seasons in LFL history. The club experienced a 2-1-1 mark in its inaugural season, complemented by a division title.
Compounding the loss is the fact that the Steam shall also have a new coach at the helm. Although Dane Robinson served on the staff of Ray Norrell (a former Georgia Force player) staff during the 2013 Steam campaign, his job may prove to be tougher than Norrell’s.
Although the familiarity may help him in maintaining a strong working relationship with existing Steam players, the success of his new quarterback will define his tenure.
Despite the fact that the Steam opted to employ more of a running game in 2013, Morgan brought a solid presence to the team. Proving to be a versatile and mobile athlete, she ranked second on the Steam with 123 rushing yards. Of note, her 6.2 yards per carry paced all Steam players while her rushing yardage represented 24.8% of the Steam’s rushing attack. Along with Sweetness Freeman, the Steam’s leading leader, the two accounted for 64%.
Of note, Robinson’s decision to release Sweetness Freeman may not improve his chances in 2014 either. While the statement released by Robinson mentioned that Freeman was a common denominator in assessing factors that did not move the team forward in 2013, her loss will have a major impact on the Steam running game.
From a passing perspective, Morgan had logged 151 yards through the air. Despite a 37.8 passer rating, she showed some flair by catching an 18-yard touchdown pass from Jodie Nettles.
In considering the impact of Morgan’s loss, the Steam has lost a homegrown talent. Having grown up in Dacula, this current resident of Gwinnett, Georgia, was the face of the franchise. With quarterback certainly being the glamour position of the league, this former multi-sport superstar was a key factor in stimulating interest for the franchise.
During her high school years (when her family recloated to Nashville), she had lettered in nine different sports and was one of six finalists for the Wendy’s High School Heisman. At Providence Christian Academy, Morgan was a star player on the hardcourts of basketball.
Earning a Master’s Degree with the University of Georgia, it was not uncommon to see her at the Bulldogs tailgates in high heels throwing the football by distances of 30-40 yards. Participating in the intramural flag football system at Georgia, she was part of women’s and co-ed flag football teams that grabbed campus titles and state championships.
Prior to the LFL, Morgan was also the recipient of a handful of national flag football championships. Although some LFL players from the Tampa Breeze attempted to recruit this proven winner, travel issues were a key obstacle. Despite the setback, it simply delayed the fulfillment of her destiny to become an LFL quarterback.
Sadly, the decision for her leaving is based not on athletic but personal and professional needs. In addition to an upcoming wedding, Morgan also has some professional opportunities. Like every competitor in women’s tackle football of all levels, Morgan has had to juggle athletic obligations with employment commitments. As the sport grows, Morgan will not be the first to make the difficult decision of abandoning gridiron glories in favor of career.
One point of optimism for fans is that she is only 26 years old, meaning that a comeback in later years is always a distinct possibility. As a handful of LFL players have competed over the age of 30, Morgan lining up behind center would certainly be a welcome sight among fans. While Steam fans wait with anticipation at the new-look team in 2014, they certainly owe Morgan a debt of gratitude as she was a key factor and fearless leader who helped the franchise achieve unprecedented heights.