The Buffalo News polled sports staffers as to the top 10 male and female athletes from Western New York.
Here’s No. 9 among men:
Name: Ron Jaworski.
High school: Lackawanna.
College: Youngstown State.
Career overview: ESPN’s resident quarterbacking guru earned that exalted status after an accomplished 17-year National Football League career with the Los Angeles Rams, Philadelphia Eagles, Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs. Jaworski is best remembered for his 10 seasons with the Eagles. He led Philadelphia to the playoffs four times, including Super Bowl XV after the 1980 season, when he was honored as NFL Player of the Year by UPI, won the Bert Bell Award as the Maxwell Football Club’s professional player of the year, the Dunlop Award as the professional athlete of the year and made the Pro Bowl. During his Eagles years, he passed for 26,963 yards and 175 touchdowns. Little doubt, Jaworski is the best quarterback to come out of Western New York, including Don Majkowski, a standout for a few years with the Green Bay Packers in the 1990s.
Iron man: Until the time Ron suffered a broken leg in the 13th game of the 1984 season, he started 116 straight NFL games at quarterback, a record until Brett Favre broke it in 1999. His NFL career totals are 28,190 passing yards and 179 touchdowns.
Why Jaws?: Nothing to do with the movie. Jaworski says the name was pinned on him by his neighbor, former Philadephia 76ers star guard and NBA coach Doug Collins. “Because my mouth was always open,” Jaworski says.
Quarterbacking 101: When Ron Jaworski speaks about quarterbacking in the NFL, people listen. He earned that kind of respect through his knowledge, personality and dedication. Perhaps nobody understands the position and those who play in the NFL better than Jaws, who is known to spend hours each week studying game film and video in preparation for his radio and television appearances. He learned from the best. His NFL head coaches were Chuck Knox, Dick Vermeil, Buddy Ryan, Don Shula and Marty Schottenheimer.
Jaws the entrepreneur: Does this man ever sleep? Jaworski has parlayed his fame, people skills and the enthusiasm he has about everything into a career in media, business and community involvement. Jaworski is majority owner and president of the Philadelphia Soul of the Arena Football League and a hotel in Philadelphia. Ron Jaworski Golf owns four courses in Eastern Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey and has managed others. He also owns a business development firm.
Bills killer: Jaworski was 3-0 in his career in games he actually played against his hometown team. Playing in relief of starter James Harris, he scored what proved the winning touchdown on a 1-yard run against Buffalo as a rookie in 1974 as the Rams won, 19-14, in Los Angeles. He passed for two touchdowns and the Eagles rallied from a 14-10 halftime deficit to defeat the Bills, 20-14, in Orchard Park in 1981, completing 20 of 32 for 240 yards with touchdowns to Keith Krepfle and Harold Carmichael. In 1984, he completed 24 of 38 for 234 yards in a 27-17 victory in Orchard Park.
Skinny Steeler: A three-sport athlete at Lackawanna High, Jaworski was drafted as a catcher by the St. Louis Cardinals and was tempted by thoughts of a baseball career. At the insistence of his father, William, he went off to Youngstown State, the school that showed the most interest in a 6-foot-2, 159-pound kid with a rifle arm. That was after his dad sent him to work for a couple of weeks in a Lackawanna steel mill to demonstrate what arduous labor might lay ahead without a college degree. To this day, Ron is thankful for the wisdom of his father, who died in 1971. “I have so much respect for people who work at those jobs,” Jaworski says. “Those two weeks in the mill will stay with me forever.”
Update: Now 64, Jaworski lives in Voorhees, N.J., a Philadelphia suburb where many of his business interests are based. He’s been married to Liz for 42 years, is the father of Joleen, Jessica and BJ and has two grandsons.