To understand how the University of Missouri’s Mitch Morse came to emerge as the Chiefs second-round draft pick on Friday night, to understand who he’ll be as a teammate and his abiding desire to make good, simply trace an arc back to when he was 4 years old.
That’s when his infant brother, Robbie, suffered a traumatic brain injury while in the care of a babysitter.
“I don’t think you would have the kind of man that Mitch is now without his having the experience of having a profoundly disabled brother,” his father, Kevin, said in a phone interview Friday night. “The needs of someone (with such a disability) make an impact on you as a child, and I think you become empathetic.”
Mitch, he added, “is always part of the solution.”
Don’t doubt that he can be part of that for the Chiefs, even if he had been projected by many as a third- or fourth-round pick and there was some muttering on social media about spending a second-round pick on him.
Heck, Morse himself seemed stunned to go so high.
But the stock of Morse, 6-5, 305 pounds, soared at the NFL Combine, and the versatility he displayed at MU (center and tackle) enhances his value for an offensive line that’s been in flux the last few years and which has only one center currently on the roster.
And he also is fueled by such a substantial intangible as to make it nearly tangible: his sense of loyalty and duty to his brother that translates to who he is in all he does.
A night after using their first pick on cornerback Marcus Peters, who’d been kicked off the team at Washington and evoked questions of character, the Chiefs plucked someone of unimpeachable disposition.
“It shows you that he is a selfless person,” general manager John Dorsey said.
An old classmate once wrote to Kevin Morse that “the blessing is very near the wound.”
He believes that’s particularly illustrated in how Mitch instantly became a nurturing force in the life of Robby, 19, who is barely ambulatory and non-verbal but has this certain way of looking at Mitch when he’s home in Austin.
“It is an extraordinarily beautiful thing to see,” Kevin Morse said.
The full story was beautifully chronicled by The Star’s Tod Palmer in December, but the applicable essence of it was that Mitch often took care of Robby and learned not just empathy from what happened but how to be part of something bigger than himself.
Which takes us to the broader point.
“That’s the life of an offensive lineman: ‘Whatever you need, I will do it,’ ” Kevin Morse said. “It’s a common thread: He does the thankless stuff, and he always has.
“He’s good, he’s smart, and he always finds a way.”
Even when the way is jammed.
“He’s going to be the guy,” his father said, “who practices running through a brick wall.”
Mitch can put one up of his own, though, as he did Friday night at the family’s home in Austin.
When the Chiefs called a few minutes before the pick was to be announced, he stonewalled the family on who it was until the official announcement came.
Chances are he would have held them in suspense regardless of where he was headed.
But there was a particularly delicious drama to withholding that it was Kansas City — and not just because of its proximity to MU.
Like his mother and her family and his father and his father’s father before him — and who knows how much farther back it all goes — Kevin Morse was born in Kansas City, Kan., something he’s carried with him ever since he left the area in the late 1960s.
On Friday, Kevin Morse recalled that his father, Henry, had gone to Argentine High and his mother, Donamarie, went to “the original Shawnee Mission High.” He still has close cousins in the area, too.
“Even before you know your child’s going to play football, you start to imprint them with your biases, right?” Kevin Morse said. “So I always imprinted my child with a Chiefs bias. And it would have been the Athletics, but they moved to Oakland, so it had to be the Royals.”
That loyalty stayed even through multiple moves as Henry Morse became an “itinerant educator,” as his son jokingly put it.
For a time, that meant living in Norman, Okla., where Donamarie worked as a secretary for OU football coaches Chuck Fairbanks and Barry Switzer.
But there always was “nothing as good as Kansas City,” where he followed the exploits of the likes of Len Dawson and just maybe has an in to an autograph now.
“Maybe at some point that could happen?” he said, laughing.
Just another way Mitch always is part of the solution.