It's not that uncommon for an NFL player these days to own a Bentley. But Washington Redskins running back Alfred Morris drives a Bentley that's raising more eyebrows than one can count -- and not because it's a big, fancy, $250,000 automobile with 600-horsepower and all the bells and whistles. Rather, it's not a Bentley at all. Morris' daily driver is a 1991 Mazda 626 that he affectionately named "Bentley" back in his college days when he first acquired the vehicle from a family friend. And now, years later, even after signing a multiyear, multimillion dollar NFL contract, Morris has no intention of getting rid of it.
In fact, thanks to the Washington D.C.-area Mazda Dealer Association, led by Brown's Chantilly Mazda of Northern Virginia, Morris is going to keep his 626 for a long, long time. Upon learning that this NFL star still owns and regularly drives a car that goes against the normal trend of young professional athletes spending their newfound wealth on expensive and exotic rides, the local Mazda dealers decided to reward Morris' humility by refurbishing his 626 back to showroom quality condition and adding a few modern accouterments in the process. A very appreciative Morris has been anxiously waiting to get back in the driver's seat of his treasured midsize sedan.
Although the exterior of the car remained virtually the same through the makeover, Bentley has undergone a series of restorative interior and mechanical upgrades. Almost 300 man-hours later, the car's cracked, sun-damaged dash has been fully replaced and the powertrain has been overhauled. Bentley also benefits from new brakes and a revamped exhaust system for cleaner, quieter operation. In terms of features and amenities, the interior now touts leather seating surfaces, a high-end stereo (with a CD player!) and a rearview camera system, none of which were part of this Mazda's original factory equipment -- especially the back-up camera, which was still a good decade-and-a-half away from becoming a common, industry-wide feature when this '91 model was built.
The Mazda 626 is a precursor to today's Mazda6. To that end, Brown's Chantilly Mazda gave Morris a 2014 model as a loaner until his beloved Bentley was ready to be driven again this week. Expect to see Alfred Morris tooling around the streets of Washington D.C. in his favorite ride to and from practice. Reunited and it feels so good.