Hall of Fame alumnus reflects on years at CPP

The XFL Seattle Dragons’ head coach Jim Zorn’s football roots go back to Southern California, where he dominated on the football field at Cal Poly Pomona from 1972 to 1975.

Zorn, a Whittier native, is the most applauded athlete in CPP’s history, and his football career was anything but typical. 

It was at Cerritos Junior College where Zorn began showing flashes of his potential with the game that would follow him for the rest of his life.

Zorn’s time at Cerritos allowed him to showcase his skills, but it wasn’t enough to earn him any full-ride scholarship opportunities. 

CPP was the only four-year university that offered him a partial scholarship.

“For me, coming to Cal Poly was the only opportunity I had in football if I wanted to continue to play,” Zorn said. “I got my tuition and my books paid for, and that was about it.”

Jim Zorn at the Seattle Dragons’ Summer Showcase Event.
(Courtesy of XFL Seattle Dragons)

Like many current students, Zorn was a commuter who traveled 30 miles one way to get to campus, but his determination and desire to be great didn’t let a commute slow him down.

Zorn led the nation in total offense in his junior year, which earned him a full scholarship with the university. He had thrown for over 1,000 yards to his former teammate Joe Fabian and showcased his ability to scramble. 

It was Zorn’s sheer determination that transformed him into a better player and ultimately led to his induction into the Cal Poly Pomona Hall of Fame in 1987.

“I remember doing work that the other guys were not willing to do because they were busy hanging out or doing their own thing,” Zorn said. “I knew if I was going to be the kind of player I wanted to be, I was going to have to sacrifice in a lot of situations.”

In 1976, Zorn’s sacrifices paid off and he found himself leading the NFL’s newest expansion team, the Seattle Seahawks. 

As the team’s first quarterback, Zorn became the face of the franchise.

After playing for the Seahawks for nine seasons, Zorn joined the Green Bay Packers in 1985. 

Following only a season in Green Bay, the 10-year veteran found himself with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1987.

At age 34, Zorn hung up his cleats and retired from the NFL after a short stint with the Buccaneers. 

Zorn’s retirement wouldn’t last long as he found himself back in Seattle.

From 2001 to 2007, Zorn once again was a Seahawk, but this time as a quarterback coach. 

After six years in Seattle, his time was up and Zorn was headed out to Washington, D.C., where he would become the Redskins’ head coach. 

After the 2009 NFL season, Zorn was relieved of his head coach duties in Washington.

Zorn spent 2010 with the Baltimore Ravens and 2011-2012 with the Kansas City Chiefs as a quarterback coach once again. 

After the 2012 season, Jim Zorn was no longer coaching in the NFL.

After 11 years on the field and an 11-year career coaching, Zorn reflected on the importance of an education before sports.

“Don’t forget to put your education as a priority because you can have fun playing your sport, but you can also have fun getting into your life’s work after your sport is over,” Zorn said. “It should be important for you.”

Zorn recognized every athlete has his or her own story and goals for a season, but he had a clear message for student athletes.

“If you want to get out of your sport the maximum you possibly can, then you will have to sacrifice,” Zorn said. “If you really want to be a top player that’s nationally recognized and competing on the national level, then there’s a lot of sacrifices to make. And one of them is you don’t get to just hang out with your fiends all the time.”

As Zorn’s career in football continues, he now finds himself as the head coach and general manager of the XFL Seattle Dragons.

With a new opportunity to run a football team Zorn said, “I want to win …. My goal is to give (the players) … my best effort and opportunity to improve not only so that we have the opportunity to win as a group, but maybe in the future they get another chance at some of the goals that they’ve set for themselves in the NFL.”

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