Ron Jaworski has carved out quite a niche more than 20 years after he retired as a professional football player. The former Eagles quarterback has been an analyst at ESPN for more than two decades, the last four on Monday Night Football. Jaworski is also part owner of the Philadelphia Soul, CEO of his own golf management company, and recently penned the NFL book The Games That Changed the Game.
The Medford resident has also remained a vital part of the Philadelphia community through his local foundation, which benefits the United Way, and his ubiquitous presence.
The recently turned 60-year-old, in an interview with Inquirer staff writer Jeff McLane, answered questions about the NFL lockout, the Eagles' quarterback situation, and the draft:
Question: You were involved in three work stoppages as an NFL player. What do you make of the current lockout?
Jaworski: I'm very saddened by it. The game has never been better on the field or in the field of business. The game is flourishing, and right now normally everyone should feel really excited about the draft. . . . I just don't sense a buzz right now as there has been in the past. When people are talking about greedy athletes, greedy owners, millionaires vs. billionaires, I think that's bad for the game.
Q: Who's more in the wrong - the owners or the players?
A: I normally favor the players' side slightly, and I probably still go this way. But I think of it in these terms: I don't think that anyone's really wrong or anyone's right. It's just a matter of getting the thing worked out and not looking to blame someone. But we all know in these situations . . . there's going to be a winner, and there has to be a loser. But I certainly side with the players because of the short career. The average NFL career is 3.4 years.
Q: So do you believe the players union is doing a good job representing former players once they're out of the game?
A: That part does disappoint me. I've been around long enough to understand that present-day players, they don't understand what the guys went through in [the previous work stoppages of 1987, '82, and '74]. . . . Quite honestly, I don't think they really give a damn about the guys that laid the foundation for the game. I think it's a lot of verbiage, but I don't think they really care.
Q: Can more by done for former players, especially in terms of their post-football health?
A: I see these guys limping around and the physical handicaps they're now living under. These guys deserve something. . . . They deserve some compensation for that, and they deserve medical benefits, and they deserve treatment for all the issues that former players are now dealing with. We all know the life expectancy of former NFL players is less than a normal human being.
Q: Do you have any post-football symptoms?
A: I remember meeting with [former Eagles trainer] Otho Davis after my career ended, and I went through our medical reports . . . and he had actually 32 concussions documented. Only two of those would I consider where I was knocked out. . . . But quite honestly, I'm pretty lucid right now. I feel very good health-wise. A couple of Aleves in the morning, and I'm ready to go.
Q: There were whispers coming out of the owners meetings two weeks ago that the season may be in jeopardy. Do you think there's a chance that could happen?
A: I spoke to John Bunting just two days ago, who was our former player rep in 1982. That 57-day strike was awful and it was ugly, and I'm seeing a lot of the same parallels right now. . . . Usually when there's compromise in the CBA there's pain on both sides, and the pain doesn't happen for the players until they start losing those paychecks. And that doesn't happen until Game 1 of the regular season.
Q: In light of the NFL's lockout, was this the perfect time for the Soul to return to Philly?
A: No, the perfect time would have been to come back in 2009. We had won the championship. We were on a real high. Unfortunately, the league suspended play for that season. . . . We all know the sports scene in Philadelphia is a little crowded, but I think the fact that people want to see some football right now, I think our timing is very good.
Q: Should the Eagles deal Kevin Kolb even if the lockout isn't lifted before the draft?
A: I don't think you deal him no matter what, but I think it's a wonderful situation that the Eagles are in. I still believe Kevin Kolb is going to be an outstanding NFL quarterback. . . . There is a dearth of quarterbacks in the NFL, on the rosters right now. And I'm studying the guys coming out [of college] right now. These guys are light-years from being in the Kevin Kolb category.
Q: How does the lockout affect Michael Vick's progression?
A: I've been an absolute firm believer that quarterbacks make their biggest strides in the offseason because you don't have the pressure of getting ready for a game. . . . Right now, Michael Vick is not getting that coaching, he's not getting those reps, he's not working out with his receivers. Now, they're going to say what they want: 'Yeah, we're going to work out together.' I've been through that. That's a joke.
Q: To improve Vick's protection, should the Eagles target the offensive line early in the draft?
A: I think the offensive line has been inconsistent. There are days when I break the tape down, and I go: 'Man, this is as good as any offensive line in football.' Then you see some games where there are just mistakes made and missed blocks and some improper technique. . . . To be able to put [new coach] Howard Mudd with this offensive line is an absolute stroke of genius by Andy Reid.