I’m no sports reporter. There are days I WISH I was.. like today.. at ‘the K’… cheering on the Kansas City Royals in Game 7.. yes, this is one of those days :) Yes, sports reporters get to witness some incredible moments from amazing vantage points, but they are also some of the hardest working guys in TV News. Andy Kendeigh, Thor Tripp and Matt Lothrop shoot their own material, write their own material, write their own sportscasts, and are often on set, anchoring, after working all day covering games and stories out in the field. They don’t ‘sit back and watch the game'; they are keeping track of stats, editing while the game is in progress, and thinking about how they’ll present it all. While fans watch and enjoy, sports guys (and ladies) work 20-hours days to bring those moments to the rest of the world.
They also know a RIDICULOUS amount of information about sports. I’d like to think I know the game of baseball.. I love gymnastics.. I like football a whole lot.. but I’m no sports reporter. I’m a sports reporter wannabe at best.
When I started profiling former Huskers as part of this Throwback Thursday series, I turned to our sports guys and my husband, ALSO a former sports photojournalist in TV News, to see who they wanted to hear from.
SEVERAL gave me this guy’s name.
#5, Nebraska Quarterback Jammal Lord, photo courtesy Nebraska Athletics
Even if you don’t know the ins and outs of this game, you can see this guy was impressive on the college football field by looking at his stats. Lord made the record books for total offense in a season and in a career. He set a record at Nebraska for a rushing quarterback in a single game and in a season. His name appears among Nebraska’s greats at the position, Eric Crouch and Tommie Frazier.
Nebraska’s last true option quarterback also marked the end of an era. As he left Nebraska at the end of 2003, so did his Head Coach Frank Solich, fired after a 10-3 season.
WHAT IF? What if they didn’t have that 7-7 season in 2002? What if there hadn’t been a coaching controversy? What if Lord, who only had 2.5 seasons on the field after a torn PCL in his knee, had gotten all four years as starting QB?
Lord tells me he has no regrets about his time as a Husker.
“No, not at all. I had fun at Nebraska,” Lord told me by phone last month. “I loved the coaches I had from Coach Solich to Coach Gill. Those guys were role models. They showed me tough love and I needed that.”
Thanks to Lord’s alma mater, Bayonne High School, for the photos
Husker nation again had high hopes for Lord as a pro player, drafted in the 6th round in 2004 by the Houston Texans. He played safety, wide receiver, cornerback, eventually retiring from pro football with the Abilene Ruff Riders of the Indoor Football League in 2007.
Lord then returned to his roots, and the place where he developed his passion for football. He became a football coach at his Alma Mater, Bayonne High School in Bayonne, New Jersey. COACHING became his new passion, a role that eventually brought him back to Nebraska, coaching at Concordia High School alongside his friend, Steve Warren.
“I miss it every day,” Lord told me. “Everything about football, I miss coaching, the kids, helping the kids out. Just seeing them grow.”
But during those coaching days, even now, it’s hard to not miss PLAYING the game, too. Lord says his favorite game came his junior year at Texas A&M. John Oakey’s Aggies had the Huskers on the ropes in the 3rd quarter, down 31-14. Lord and Nebraska charged back and WON 38-31, at the time, tying the school record for the biggest comeback in football history. Jammal Lord was named Team Captain the following season.
“Just going out, playing hard and winning games,” said Lord. “I miss my friends, mainly.”
Today, Lord is a long way from the friends he made in Lincoln, Houston, Bayonne and Omaha; he’s working in the oil fields of North Dakota.
WHAT?!?! For anyone asking the same question I did when I heard that, a quick Google search reveals the average annual salary of an oil worker in ND–more than $110,000.
“A friend of a friend had a business here, offered me a job,” said Lord. “I said never! Then I caved in.”
It’s hard not to like this guy in talking to him on the phone. In that answer and in so many others, he laughed throughout. You could ‘hear’ his smile on other end. Jammal Lord seems like a guy who truly enjoys life, whether he’s making a comeback on the football field or anywhere else. He has a passion for life, just as he does for football.
And he still has that love for the Huskers.
“I like all of them,” he said of today’s players. “I like Ameer, he’s doing his thing right now. I like Tommy. I’m biased for the quarterback position, you know what I mean?”
What about Coach Pelini, Lord’s then Defensive Coordinator who took over head-coaching duties in Lord’s last game with Nebraska at the Alamo Bowl?
“LOVE him. Love him,” said Lord. “Just the passion, he has passion for his kids. He has passion for the game of football.”
Finally, to Husker fans who like so many sports guys do, remember Jammal Lord and hold him as a Husker favorite, he’s got a message for you, too.
“I love you. You’re number one in my book,” said Lord. “I had fun down there. It was a great time. I love the fans, I love the stadium. GO BIG RED!”
For more on #5 Jammal Lord, check out his bio courtesy of Nebraska Athletics.
Next week’s Throwback Thursday Husker.. the Class of 1987, John McCormick!