ESPN’s Ron Jaworski: For Love of the Game(s)

Former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski, a native of western New York, long ago earned his New Jersey stripes.

Ron Jaworski
Photo by Pali Rao.

Best known these days as an ESPN football analyst, the man called Jaws owns and operates four South Jersey golf courses and gives back generously to the area through his family’s Jaws Youth Foundation, which has helped raise more than $3 million for at-risk kids. Jaworski, 62, also is the major co-owner of the Philadelphia Soul, an Arena Football League team once part-owned by Jon Bon Jovi. Although average attendance at Soul games fell to 10,158 last season from a high of 16,851 in 2004, Jaworski is upbeat about the team’s future thanks to a new two-year contract with CBS Sports, which will broadcast league games on Saturday nights starting this month. He spoke with New Jersey Monthly from his home in Medford.

New Jersey Monthly: You’ve lived here more than three decades. Why South Jersey?

Ron Jaworski: It goes back to 1977, when I was traded from the [Los Angeles] Rams to Philadelphia. My wife and I were coaxed by a few of my teammates on the Eagles who said, “South Jersey is the place to be”…. Thirty-five years later I can definitely say their advice was good.

NJM: You opened your first golf course in the area in 1984 and last year purchased your fourth, Blue Heron Pines in Egg Harbor Township. How did you get into the golf business?

RJ: I was never one to invest in stocks and bonds, anything really where you give someone else your money and say “Good luck!” I’ve always been the kind of guy who likes to feel, to touch, to see, to be involved. I’ve also always been attracted to real estate as an investment, and I love the game of golf. [Jaworski carries an enviable 8 handicap.] So it seemed natural to get into the golf business.

NJM: Are there more courses in your future?

RJ: I’m looking to expand on a regular basis. Perhaps up and down the East Coast. But primarily I want to stay in South Jersey.

NJM: What’s the key to your success as a football analyst?

RJ: I really do have an enormous advantage being here in South Jersey because NFL Films is right here [in Mount Laurel]…. I’ve kept an office there for 23 years. I do all my homework, all my studying there.

NJM: What’s your strong suit as a broadcaster?

RJ: I love to give people the why. People always ask questions about why certain players succeed, why certain defenses don’t work, why certain quarterbacks are able to connect with certain receivers, and I can provide them with answers. I can watch hours and hours of tape and drill down on the specifics.

NJM: As a quarterback you took your share of hits. What do you think of the National Football League’s efforts to make the game safer?

RJ: Football is violent by nature, but Commissioner [Roger] Goodell wants to make the game safer not only for players, but for the trickle-down effect it will have on colleges, high schools, Pop Warner and kids in little league. The game must be safer. We now have dozens of studies and the technology to measure the impact of head trauma and concussions, and I think everything happening in that arena is positive.

NJM: Might the changes detract from the sport?

RJ: I would hope that those who legislate the game understand that it’s a tough, physical game, and that those who play it want to play it because they like it…. You make that decision [to play] knowing that injuries are a part of the game.

NJM: The Philadelphia Soul’s new season starts March 23. How will the CBS Sports deal help the league?

RJ: In the next couple years you’re going to see more arena games being televised and more fans as a result. People simply love football, and I think that’s why arena football has been so well received…. It’s rock and roll, fast-paced football, and the caliber of players in the league is very high. And as a quarterback you’ve got to love arena football. It’s a passing game, man!

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