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November 14, 2006 > Jack Del Rio

Jack Del Rio

by Steve Michel

Jack Del Rio, Jr. was born April 4, 1963 in Castro Valley and grew up in Hayward. He attended Hayward High School, becoming a sports star in football, baseball and basketball. In his junior and senior years, he made first team All H.A.A.L. (Hayward Area Athletic League) and first team All-Eastbay as a linebacker. He also made first team both years in baseball as a catcher and started on the basketball team as a forward. Former head football coach Gary Clark said that Del Rio was the best football player he had ever coached and the hardest hitting linebacker he ever saw at high school level. “Jack is a nice kid but once he steps on the football field the nasty side comes out and he just explodes into running backs and quarterbacks,” Clark noted.

Standing 6-feet 4-inches, the 240-pound player was full of speed and agility, and Clark noted that he was one of the best high school players in the country. Del Rio’s skills led to being named Parade Magazine’s All-American team in his senior year. Over 50 colleges from around the country wanted to sign him up, including Stanford, Cal, and USC. He ended up with USC when the head football coach, John Robinson, offered to put him on both the football and baseball teams. The other colleges only wanted him for their football teams.

At USC, he became a big star as a linebacker, making All-Pac 10 in 1983-84. Del Rio was the starting catcher on the baseball team and was a teammate of future Oakland A’s baseball star Mark McGuire who played first base for USC.

After Del Rio graduated from college, he was drafted in the third round of the 1985 NFL draft by the New Orleans Saints, playing for two years as a backup linebacker to veteran Sam Chiefs. Then he was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs where he was a starter for the 1987-86 season. After playing with the Chiefs, he became a free agent and signed with the Dallas Cowboys, quickly becoming the leader of the defense from 1989-91. He led the Cowboys defense twice in tackles per season.

Prior to the 1992 season, Del Rio signed with the Minnesota Vikings where he had his most productive years making All-Pro two times. He spent 11 years in the NFL before he retired as a player. He was hired as assistant linebacker coach for the Baltimore Ravens. After four seasons as a coach, he was promoted to defensive coordinator and helped lead the team to victory at the Super Bowl over the New York Giants in 2000.

Named head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2004, Del Rio took the team to the playoffs in his second year. This year, he is looking to lead his team to the Super Bowl and is off to a good start beating defending Super Bowl champions Pittsburgh Steelers 9-0 on September 18. It was the lowest scoring game ever on Monday Night Football.

Del Rio is a local boy who made good. His three-year contract with Jacksonville pays him over $3 million per season. The sportscasters on ESPN call him one of the best young head coaches in the NFL. He plans to prove them right by taking his team to the Super Bowl next February 4.

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