Jim Zorn - Quarterback - 1986 - Cal Poly Pomona
Jim Zorn had a successful 12 season career as a professional quarterback. The left handed Zorn first gained prominence as the undrafted starting quarterback of the expansion Seattle Seahawks. The fresh faced Zorn a California native was the face of the expansion franchise for 7 seasons teaming with receiver Steve Largent as the club fought for respectability.
In 1983, Zorn was replaced as the teams starting quarterback by Dave Krieg who brought the Seahawks the franchises first playoff birth. Zorn would remain in Seattle as back-up until the end of the 1984 season. What a lot of fans may not recall is that after 1 season with the Green Bay Packers in 1985, Zorn came to the Canadian Football League and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 1986 serving as back-up to Tom Clements along with John Hufnagel.
Canadian Press - Former Bomber chases Super Bowl Dream - 01-02-2006
Zorn, a fit and athletic 52, began his NFL career with Seattle in its inaugural season in '76, earning the NFC's top rookie award that year. For nine years, the native of Whittier, Calif., teamed up with Hall of Fame receiver Steve Largent to form one of the NFL's most potent passing attacks.
But Dave Krieg took over as the Seahawks starter in '85, with Zorn moving on to Green Bay that year before heading to Winnipeg in '86.
"I saw myself as an NFL quarterback and I went there to play," Zorn said Wednesday. "Tom Clements was the starter, but he got hurt, which was why I went up there.
"But John played so well I never got a chance."
Hufnagel threw for 3,394 yards with 21 TDs and 16 interceptions in leading the Bombers to an 11-7-0 record, good enough for third in the West Division behind Edmonton (13-4-1) and B.C. (12-6-0). Their season ended with a 21-14 loss to the Lions in the conference semifinals.
"John just blistered the league and we got into the playoffs because of him," Zorn said. "But we lost to the B.C. Lions and that was it and I never came back.
"However, when I returned to Seattle, I was singing the Canadian national anthem because I really enjoyed my time in Canada."
In his brief CFL career, Zorn completed 13 of 25 passes for 175 yards with no touchdowns and an interception.
Zorn finished his pro career in '87 with the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers and it was a memorable ending for all the wrong reasons.
"I played one game with Tampa Bay that year, which was the strike year," Zorn said. "I had a chance to play with Seattle during that time but I didn't want to really go there so I went as far away as possible.
"I came into Tampa Bay on a Wednesday, learned the offence, started on Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, threw two touchdown passes and we won the game. I got the game ball, I was the player of the game and was cut Monday as the strike was over. I couldn't find another place to play so I decided that was the time to retire and move into coaching."
And it was as a coach that Zorn crossed paths with Anthony Calvillo, the Montreal Alouettes' star quarterback.
"I was coaching at Boise State when the head coach at Utah State called me up (in '92) to be his offensive co-ordinator," Zorn said. "I asked who his quarterback was and he told me he was recruiting a guy out of southern California and he was going to be the quarterback.
"I told him I wasn't coming because he was recruiting the wrong guy. I said if he could get Anthony Calvillo to go to Utah State, then I'd be there because Anthony was the best junior college quarterbacks I had ever seen.
"Three days later, the coach called me and said, `I've got (Calvillo), are you coming?' I said, `Absolutely."'
Zorn served as Utah State's offensive co-ordinator for three years (1992-'94), coaching Calvillo for the first two seasons before Calvillo began his CFL career with the expansion Las Vegas Posse. After stints with the Posse and Hamilton, Calvillo landed in Montreal as a free agent in '98.
With the Als, Calvillo has emerged as one of the CFL's top quarterbacks and one of its highest paid, reportedly earning about $450,000 annually.
Calvillo has led Montreal to four Grey Cup appearances (winning once) and in 2003 was the CFL's outstanding player. The following season, Calvillo became just the fourth quarterback in league history to pass for more than 6,000 yards in a single season.
Calvillo was in Seattle about five years ago for a tryout, but was unable to crack the Seahawks roster. He also tried out for the Steelers in 2002 but again returned to Montreal.
"Anthony is comfortable there, he knows the (Canadian) game, is quite respected and is one of the highest-paid players there," Zorn said. "Everyone wants to try the NFL but I think he's had a wonderful career where he's at.
"He's a great quarterback."
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