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An infectious energy on full display: How Raheem Morris caught attention on his first (public) day as Falcons head coach

Tori McElhaney recaps the moments that made up Raheem Morris' first time back at Mercedes-Benz Stadium for his introductory press conference. 

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Raheem Morris' infectious energy was something all together palpable throughout the entirety of his Monday. It was fully on display. Granted, it wasn't a normal Monday, of course. It was the day Morris was officially, publicly, introduced as the 19th head coach in Atlanta Falcons history. It was a homecoming for Morris, and the energy fit the word.

His smile never faltered. He gate was always smooth. The mood shifted when Morris walked into every room. There was a familiarity there, too.

As he made his way to the stage for his introductory press conference, he looked out to a sea of faces that make up the Atlanta media market, and many of them he already knew.

"This is a pretty tight crew today," Morris said through a smile after opening statements from team president Greg Beadles and general manager Terry Fontenot sitting to his right and left, respectively. "I can see I have to loosen you guys up a little bit."

What followed was a feast of familiarity.

It was seen in the way Morris spoke to media members by name, saying hi to WSB-TV's Alison Mastrangelo when the mic was passed to her. You noticed it in the way Morris told The Associated Press' Charles Odum it was nice to see him again when he finished asking his own question. It was in the jokes Morris shot D.J. Shockley's way, as Morris claimed he could tell the former player now turned Atlanta TV partner with FOX 5 was trying hard to be all professional. It was in the comfort with which 9.29 The Game's radio host, Tenitra Batiste, addressed Morris as "Coach Rah" before diving into her question.

All of this painted a picture of the true way Morris connects with people. It was a full showing of how engaging Morris is as a leader, speaker and -- now -- head coach. When Morris said, "this is certainly the best feeling in the world," nearly every media member in attendance noted those words felt genuine. And also, to a certain extent, rejuvenating.

"I want you guys to be comfortable in this environment," Morris said. "Because we're going to be here a lot, right? And it's pretty cool."

It was because of Morris, the moment didn't feel uncomfortable at all.


Morris has gone on record before to say he knows how he affects people. It's a strength he feels like he has. It's something others -- many others -- have said about Morris, too.

"He leaves an indelible mark on everyone he works with and has a rare ability to unify and inspire a collective group to accomplish their mission," Rams general manager Les Snead said of Morris before he was hired by the Falcons.

When news did hit of the Morris hire in Atlanta, Rams safety Jalen Ramsey posted on social media that the "Falcons got one of, if not the best coach in the NFL." He later added that he isn't the only player who feels this way.

"Ask any player who has played for Rah," Ramsey posted.

And that has been Morris' calling card wherever he has been through a couple decades of NFL coaching work. It's a calling card that isn't just extended to players and coaches, though. Monday's press conference, really the entire day, was that calling card in action.

It was an authentic showing of why Morris has become one of the most respected coaches in the league and why so many people -- even people without a single tie to the Falcons or the NFC South -- are happy to see Morris in this position.

In an exclusive interview with, Morris said as he pulled up to Mercedes-Benz Stadium and walked into the locker room once again after three seasons away, he felt like he was coming home. But he was also struck by the notion that he is coming home with a true goal already solidified in his mind.

"For me, it was a feeling of coming home to get something accomplished that you always wanted to get accomplished for a long time," Morris said. "For the people of Atlanta, for the people that work here, for the familiar faces. I was so excited to walk into this stadium because of that, that I almost had this kind of game-day-like feel, where it became a more serious, 'Let's go get 'em' type of deal."

At the end of the day, after the presser was concluded, the pictures taken and hands shook: It still felt that way.

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