How Jim Zorn Learned to Skin a Coyote
Yesterday I decided to ask Jim Zorn about skinning coyotes.
It's the sort of thing that most NFL coaches regularly talk about following their press gatherings after Wednesday practices, so it might not be worth mentioning, but what the heck.
All that I knew on this topic came from that 1984 Sports Illustrated profile that, in seven words, mentioned Zorn's coyote experiences. So, after all the football questions were done, I asked if he really knew how to skin a coyote.
"Heh," he said. "Yeah. Yup."
And then, the story. Buckle up, kids.
"We lived on Lake Washington," he began. "Ok, this absolutely was appalling to my bride of 29 years, but I actually found road kill. I didn't hunt the coyote, I found road-kill coyote, put it in a bag, shoved it in my trunk. I thought, 'A coyote pelt, this is awesome!'
"So I took it outside--I didn't bring it in the house obviously--I took it outside, I hung it on a tree right on the waterfront, you know. Beautiful waterfront house, I hung it right on the tree, and I skinned it. Um, and it looked like, I'll tell you what, it looked like a yard dog. So it was a little bit scary, because people were thinking I was skinning my own dog. But it was a coyote.
"So I skinned it out, I put it in a bag and I sent it to a tannery, right? And I got the hide tanned and brought back and I had this really nice coyote pelt, all right? And it was on a couch on our house for a long time, until our kids got to it and you know, they started pulling the tail and all that kind of stuff."
Look, it beats "the only thing we're focused on right now is the Cleveland Browns," no? This, though, was different than I imagined. I had pictured Zorn studiously learning technique in coyote skinning classes, not freestyling on random bagged road kill, so I asked how he knew what to do.
"I just did it," he said. "I didn't know necessarily how, I just did it. Worked out well."
"I'll tell you how, ok, I'll tell you exactly how," he continued. "I took Human Anatomy in college. I went to Cal Poly Pomona, as you know, and that Human Anatomy course was a pre-med class, and so we learned how to work in the labs on cadavers. So if you can imagine, I was doing the same thing with a cadaver, learning the parts of the body. Fascinating."
Right. Redskins, what say you?
"I have not heard that one, no," Jon Jansen said.
"I don't put nothing past that man," Mike Sellers said. "He's different. Let me just put it like that, he's different."
"Did he do it with his bare hands?" Casey Rabach wanted to know. "Did he use his teeth?"
I had to admit that he did not.
"That's cool," Rabach said, "but the road kill part? He needs to kill it first, feel the blood, and then skin it. That'd be better. That's like skinning your pet dog. But no, that's cool. At least he got his hands dirty."
Then I told Rabach that Zorn had been guided by his Human Anatomy class.
"He's got issues," Rabach said.
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