Education

Jaworski Shares Secrets for Success with YSU Students

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Ron “Jaws” Jaworski has found success on and off the football field.

The Youngstown State University graduate, who played quarterback for the Penguins from 1969 to 1972, is best-known for his 17-year career in the National Football League, during which he led the Philadelphia Eagles to a Super Bowl berth.

After football, Jaworski became a fixture as a broadcaster for Monday Night Football and has worked for ESPN for the past 28 years. He also built a sports business empire and owns seven golf courses and three Arena Football League teams.

As a philanthropist, he is a United Way director and has started a foundation that has raised $5 million for at-risk kids. As a parent, he and his wife of 45 years have three children and five grandchildren.

Jaworski returned to his alma mater Friday to talk to the football team, but before that, he addressed a gathering of about 70 communications students, athletes and others at Kilcawley Center.

The secret to success, he told the students, is education and preparation. Jaworski attended YSU from 1969 to 1973, and said the school played a major role in his life on and off the gridiron. When a knee injury forced him to retire from football in 1990, he had to find a new career.

“At age 40 … I had to go back to the real world,” said Jaworski. “Fortunately, I had something to fall back on: an education. Getting your education is critical. Youngstown State gave me a great education. Not only as a football player, but as a person.”

The Lackawanna, N.Y., native made what seemed like a smooth transition into broadcasting. But in reality, he worked hard preparing for the job. As a player, Jaworski had a radio show. That and the fact that he is a natural storyteller gave him the foundation for television work.

Still, he had plenty to learn about broadcasting and did so by doing it.

“In my 28 years at ESPN, I literally have done every job possible,” he said. “That included doing sidelines [reporting], with people throwing peanuts at me in Washington on live TV. You’ve got to maintain your composure, smile and act like it’s not bothering you when you want to turn around and punch somebody.”

The average career of an NFL player is just over three years years, said Jaworski, adding that if you want to make it last longer you’ve got to work.

“I knew that if I was going to make it, I would have to work hard,” he said. “As an NFL player, every year there was someone else who wanted my job. … Every single year they were drafting a young quarterback, a Randall Cunningham, who was coming after my job.”

Playing was the fun part, said Jaworski. The work was in the preparation.

“I always thought, I might not be the strongest, the quickest, the smartest, but I am going to find a way to beat him,” he said. “If he is going to bed at 10, I am going to bed at 12. I am going to outwork him.”

Jaworski told the students that now is the time for them to prepare for their future. He recalled a moment in 1971 when he was a player at YSU and then-football star Frank Gifford came to campus to give a talk.

“I was enamored of him,” he said. “He motivated me. I was like you are now, in the seats. And in the back of my mind, all of the things he talked about then is what I am talking to you about now.

“You learn from people and their experiences. The fact that you are here at YSU gives you a great opportunity, and I love the fact that you came out on a Friday afternoon to listen to Jaws say a few words to you.”

Pictured: Ron “Jaws” Jaworski. (Image: YSU/ESPN)

Copyright 2019 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.