The 1991 Mazda 626 that made Alfred Morris famous for his frugality last year (before he ran for 1613 yards and 13 touchdowns in his 2012 rookie campaign) is getting totally refurbished, courtesy of the Japanese automaker, in an uncommon athlete-corporation symbiotic win-win.
“Mazda was everywhere because of my car, so it was kind of giving them free publicity in a sense,” Morris said. ”I think they [Mazda] kind of hinted at saying something about, ‘Oh, we’ll fix your car up.’ They went from there and they worked out a deal. So it worked out, and I’m going to get my baby back on the road so I’m excited about that.”
Ever the miser in an era when many millionaire athletes go broke and buy fleets of luxury cars for their families, Morris went the other way and took up Mazda on the free parts and labor. He's committed to the 22-year-old silver beast he bought in college with the goal of eventually flipping the keys to his children.
“Mazda is going to make her like new, like she came off the floor on ‘91," Morris said. "They actually just took it, so we’re going to switch cars while they’re doing it. They said it would take about six-to-eight weeks to do it, but they’re going to totally refurbish it, so I’m happy about that. . . . They’re just [refurbishing] it so that it can run for about 20 more years.”
Morris enjoys all forms of transportation.
Morris is now in the second year of a four-year contract worth over $2.2 million. According to Kelley Blue Book, his Mazda is worth about $600 in fair condition, or $1200 in excellent condition. Morris has received a loaner to commute to work in the interim, but it won't be long before the 5' 9" 219 pound bruiser reunites with his well-worn wheels. To clarify the nature of the pro bono work , Morris said:
“It’s not like ‘Pimp My Ride’ or anything like that. I’m not into that type of stuff anyways. . . . I just had a crack on my dash, so fixing things like that. They made sure the engine was in tip-top condition. Maybe if the transmission is not so good, rebuilding the transmission. Just making sure that it can run 20 more years so that I don’t have to worry about it, ‘Oh, I don’t know if I want to put it on the road. It might break down and I’ll be stranded.’ Just to get that worry out of the way, they’re going to refurb, and they might update it a bit, maybe put a navigation system or something in it. But nothing like big rims and fish tanks in the back.”