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Jim Zorn's Worthless Tricks

Rolling the ball up and down his arm before Cowboys game. (By John McDonnell - TWP)

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.'"

Spinning before Jags game. (By John McDonnell - TWP)

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."

By Dan Steinberg  |  October 2, 2008; 5:48 PM ET
Categories:  Redskins  
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Next: Morning Look: One Couple, Three Skins Plates


So I'm guessing Zorn is the #4 QB on the depth chart?

Posted by: icantfeelmyface | October 2, 2008 6:35 PM | Report abuse

It is neat to be able to read about alot of this interesting stuff about Jim. Even for someone like me who has known him for a good many years. Some of this stuff I have known about Jim for many years. He is a man of many unique interests and hobbies.He is a man of adventure. Which is one of the many reasons why Jim is such a great guy.

There is alot more to this man than being a good football coach. Alot more. More than I think most people will ever really realize. I learned that about him a long time ago. Football is his vocation. But it is by no means his indentity or his life. Christ first, family second and everything else after that. He is truly a man who has great depth of character and integrity. I feel it's been a blessing and a priviledge to have gotten to know him over the years and to have him as a mentor and a friend.

He deserves the opportunity to do well. He's worked hard to get where he is and he did with it integrity and by not compromising his convictions along the way. Considering the city he is working in he will stand out as an example of what a real leader looks like by the way he lives his life. Not like so many in DC who are so called leaders in goverment and commerce who have sold out not only themselves but many others they claim to leading. There is no secret life with this man or hypocrisy that will come about. He authentic in every way.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 2, 2008 9:34 PM | Report abuse

The more I read stories like this the more I hope that Jim Zorn continues to see success with the Redskins. He seems to be a players coach with a good balance between tough guy and just a big kid and it all seems natural, not forced. I know that all of this fun stuff would be looked at negatively if the Redskins were 1-3 and not 3-1, but I think that it all says a lot about the type of person he is.

Posted by: More Cowbell | October 2, 2008 11:40 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Jeff V | October 3, 2008 9:02 AM | Report abuse

Can someone at the post get us some video of Zorn doing all these tricks?

Posted by: Alex35332 | October 3, 2008 9:07 AM | Report abuse

I'm horny for Zorny

Posted by: 44riggosranger44 | October 3, 2008 9:29 AM | Report abuse

"That's what he said. I said, 'What do you mean juggle?' He said, 'Juggle balls. You have to juggle balls.'"

BangBus nods in approval

Posted by: hmmmmm | October 3, 2008 10:10 AM | Report abuse

I just love reading a sports blog that so humanizes the subject. My continued thanks and admiration, DS.

Posted by: Bobbie | October 3, 2008 2:09 PM | Report abuse

I'm feeling ZORNY...


Posted by: Anonymous | October 3, 2008 2:54 PM | Report abuse

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