In 1976, Jim Zorn played an important role in being the first starting quarterback in the history of the Seattle Seahawks.
In 2019, he makes some history again in Seattle, this time for another football league.
Zorn was named the head coach and general manager of Seattle’s XFL franchise on Monday. The league begins games next February with eight teams.
“When I think of individuals who personify what it means to be a quarterback playing football, I personally think of Jim,” said XFL commissioner Oliver Luck, who joined Zorn at a press conference at CenturyLink Field.
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“I watched Jim Zorn play for the expansion Seahawks and I was totally captivated with his style play. He was innovative, he was creative and he did all those things as a player that we all wanted to do. As we decided to place a franchise here, there was really only one call I had to make and that to my friend, Jim Zorn.”
Zorn spent 16 years in Seattle, first as the Seahawks quarterback from 1976-1984 and then as the quarterbacks coach from 2001-2007. He compiled a 12-20 record as the head coach of the Washington Redskins for the 2008 and 2009 seasons. Zorn’s last job in the NFL was coaching quarterbacks for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2012.
Seattle’s hiring Zorn as the coach/general manager is the third for the XFL. Dallas hired former Oklahoma Sooners head coach Bob Stoops and the Washington D.C. franchise hired longtime college and pro assistant Pep Hamilton.
The original XFL folded in 2001 after just one season. But Zorn said he likes the direction the league has planned in its rebirth.
“What Vince’s (McMahon) vision was of the league and the future was for the XFL, I got excited,” Zorn said. “It’s going to be real football, we’re going to have real names on the back of jerseys and it’s also going to be a bit creative.”
Zorn said he believes the league can fill a niche for players that are squeezed out of the NFL or who are players that need more development.
“I see players coming and going from the Seahawk team every year and I’m thinking, ‘This guy is really good and I know that John Schneider and Pete (Carroll) agonize over letting these players go,” Zorn said. “It may just be that they’re not developed enough so that’s one of the reasons that I’m trying to get involved with the league.
“That’s one of the things that attracts me to this league, getting the chance to work with young players.”
Broadcast deal coming?
Luck, in a conversation from January, said the league is getting close on announcing their upcoming broadcast partners. He updated the situation on Monday.
“The lawyers are just dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s at this point,” Luck said. “We’ll have four games a week with our eight teams. Two of those games will be on terrestrial broadcast stations; names that everybody in the world recognizes and the other two games are going to be on fully distributed cable.
“We have a very robust package for a league like ours.”
Even with the league a year away from beginning play, XFL officials have been tweaking the rules of the game. They’ve been working with two Mississippi junior colleges on testing the rules and experimenting with ways to speed up the game. Zorn hinted at some possible things that fans may see a year from now.
“We’re going to have ball spotters instead of the officials spotting the ball,” Zorn said. “We’re going to have someone do that for them. We’re going to go in March and look at several teams practicing in their spring practice sessions and we’re going to see how these things play out.”