Jim Zorn's Worthless Tricks
As he stands on the sidelines before games, Jim Zorn performs a sort of football gymnastics, dribbling balls off the turf and slinkeying them up and down his arms and spinning them on his finger. Add in some spandex, corrupt judges and a Tchaikovsky soundtrack, and you might as well call it an Olympic sport. A colleague jokingly called these "Stupid Coach Tricks, and today I finally asked Zorn about his skills.
"I call them Worthless Tricks," he said. "There's a lot of quarterbacks that can do it; I don't know if anybody can do [quite] as much."
Which is how a bunch of reporters happened to be gathered around the league's hottest new head coach after practice this afternoon as he asked a team PR staffer for three coins. He then showed us how to line up three quarters on one's palm, chase the outside quarter up above the other two quarters, spin it around 360 degrees and then drop it back down in between the other coins.
It took him two tries. "See that," he said happily, after the successful second attempt . Man, Andy Reid has no shot this weekend.
The origins of his football dexterity, Zorn said, came at Cerritos College, where he played under legendary coach Ernie Johnson.
"And he told me, he said, 'Listen, if you're gonna play quarterback and you're gonna continue on, you have to learn how to juggle,' " Zorn recounted today. "That's what he said. I said, 'What do you mean juggle?' He said, 'Juggle balls. You have to juggle balls.'"
And so Zorn can do "all kinds of little juggling tricks" with round balls, skills that helped him learn to manipulate the pointy kind. Johnson also mandated that Zorn learn coin tricks to help with "finger dexterity," although the lefty could do them only right-handed. He said all quarterbacks have down time during practice--watching special teams, for example--and so they learn additional ways to fiddle with footballs, although his own troops weren't quite as sure.
"I don't have any tricks like that," Todd Collins said. "He has a whole bunch of stuff. He's pretty creative."
"It's like all this old-school Harlem Globetrotters type stuff they used to do back in the old days probably," Colt Brennan joked. "We as young kids, we really don't know how to do it like he does, because we've got too much rhythm."
"They see it," Zorn said of his pupils. "They're jealous of me."
Brennan, though, said he does his own share of Worthless Tricks, dropping the ball and catching it with the same hand, then dropping it again and swooping his hand around the ball before catching it again from above. Zorn said he now has too much work to do Worthless Tricks during practice, so he displays his skills before games while talking with Daniel Snyder, describing them more as a rhythmic habit than anything else.
"I think I've done it for so long, it's just kinda like I've gotta get a ball, I've got to do something," he said. "I just learned a bunch."
The quarterbacks said Zorn has other skills; catching balls behind his back or with crossed hands, and throwing the ball with a sort of reverse inside-out delivery.
"He's always trying to show off, he's always trying to show he still has it," Brennan said. "And he does. To give him credit, he kind of does."
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