Ex-Players Remember Dick Jauron At College Football Hall Of Fame Ceremony

Dick Jauron (Yale Athletics)Special to College Sports Journal

By Steve Conn


Editor’s note: This story is courtesy of Yale athletics.


NEW YORK, N.Y. —  “If you were in a phone booth with him for 20 minutes, you still couldn’t catch him,” said Yale’s Hall of Fame football coach Carm Cozza about his former All-America running back Dick Jauron ’73, who Monday night joined his coach in the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame.


One thing you won’t ever catch Jauron doing is talking about himself. That’s why his Yale teammates Bill Primps ’71, Sandy Cutler ’73 and Fred Danforth ’73 arranged for a pre-induction celebration Tuesday afternoon entitled Dick Jauron, A Life of Excellence, on the seventh floor of the University Club on 54th Street.


Knowing Jauron’s selflessness, they also designed an impressive list of coaches, teammates and opponents to speak about the former Eli and NFL star who went on to coach for seven different National Football League teams. The idea was to cover his high school, college and professional sports careers, and it was done to perfection.


Primps (master of ceremony), Scottie Rodgers (Ivy League), Tony Reno, the Joel E. Smilow ’54 Yale Head Coach, Frank DeFelice (Swampscott High coach), Jack Ford ’73, Ed Marinaro (All-American Cornell RB), Gary Fencik ’76, Ron Darling ’82, John Spagnola ’79, Cozza and Bob Perschel ’73 all spoke about Jauron.


When it was time for the guest of honor to take the microphone, he did exactly what was expected of him, talk about others.


The first thing Jauron did was talk about the great leadership of Primps, Cutler and Danforth before paying tribute to his legendary Yale coach. Then, he thought about the day a little more.


“Having this honor [hall of fame] means getting to see [all of] you,” said Jauron, Yale’s 30th college football hall of fame inductee, who sat with his daughter, Kacy, and his brothers Mike and Robert. “I am thrilled and surprised by the honor, and I never thought it was ever a possibility.”


Marinaro, a 1991 hall of fame inductee, former NFL star and actor, gave Jauron advice for handling the hall of fame status in his famously jocular style. The former Hill Street Blues star described one example, hanging the NFF plaque in the garage “so you can see it every time you come home.”


“Dick was a great rival [in college], the two of us were always battling for the Ivy rushing title. We also played against each other in the NFL,” said Marinaro.


The 1972 Yale captain, Perschel, recalled the first pre-season scrimmage their freshman year and a Jauron running play that let everyone know the former All-Massachusetts player came just as advertised. Perschel, a linebacker, thought he had Jauron lined up two different times on the play and never touched him.


“{Trying to tackle him] It’s like trying to catch a waterfall or the wind,” said Perschel, who was just as impressed with the way his teammate treated others as he was with the athletic ability. “His typical touchdown celebration was to run over to the referee, hand him the ball and say ‘thank you sir.’”


A common theme among the conversation in the room during the reception and program was how Jauron handled himself and how interested he was in helping family, teammates and friends. He wasn’t – and still isn’t – interested in speaking to the media, because he didn’t want to talk about himself.


“Sports Illustrated wanted to feature him during his junior season, but Dick said he preferred not to do it,” said Ford. “He just didn’t want to take any attention away from the team.”


His coach was thrilled with the running back’s elusiveness, but there was much more to his respect for Jauron.


“I admired him because of the way he handled himself,” said Cozza, who told a story about coaching Jauron at the East-West Shrine All-Star Game. The Yale star spent a lot of time with the Cozza family on that trip, including making use of the new car reserved for use by the coach. “I never got to drive that car and get the new car smell, but my family wanted to adopt him.”


Spagnola was the only person in the room who played on an NFL team (Green Bay) for which Jauron worked.  “His way of working with individuals was very special, and the players really loved him,” said Spagnola, who crossed paths in Wisconsin with the new hall of famer in 1989. “You are clearly an example to all of us.”

The sentiment in the room may have been summarized best by Ford when he said, “I am so very proud to say I’m a friend of Dick Jauron.”