Jake Scott: Hall of Famer verifies motorcycle ride over Coliseum, rift with Vince Dooley

Q&A WITH JAKE SCOTT

The legendary and often misunderstood Jake Scott took time out from his busy fishing-and-traveling-the-world schedule to be interviewed via conference call this past Friday. The occasion for this rare media opportunity was Scott’s recent selection to be inducted into the National Football Foundation’s College Football Hall of Fame. The actual induction ceremonies will take place in December at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City.

Jake Scott laughs during halftime ceremonies last year when he was included in the Miami Dolphins' Hall of Honor. (Photo by the South Florida Sun Sentinel).

Jake Scott laughs during halftime ceremonies last year when he was included in the Miami Dolphins' Hall of Honor. (Photo by the South Florida Sun Sentinel).

Scott, a native of Greenwood, S.C., who played football for Georgia from 1966-68, was an All-SEC and All-America safety and kick returner for the Bulldogs. He still holds the school record for career interceptions with 16, which he collected in the only two seasons he was eligible for the Bulldogs, 1967-68. Freshmen were ineligible to play in 1966 and he controversially left the team to play in the Canadian Football League in 1969 (the NFL wouldn’t draft underclassmen in those days).

After one year of CFL ball, Scott embarked on an all-star professional career with the Miami Dolphins. In Miami, Scott was selected to five Pro Bowls (1971-75), played in three Super Bowls and was named MVP of Super Bowl VII in 1972 when the Dolphins finished 17-0. He intercepted 49 career passes and recovered 13 fumbles as a pro, including three seasons with the Washington Redskins.

Scott largely disappeared from public view after retiring from the NFL in 1978. After living high up in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado for a while, he moved out to the island of Kauai in Hawaii. He still resides there, staying fishing, playing golf and hanging out with friends. He also travels extensively between Hawaii, Georgia, Key West, Fla., New Zealand, Australia and other parts unknown.

Following is the exchange between me and Jake and a few other reporters who called in to take part in what ended up being a 20-minute interview.

Q: Jake, I have to ask you the most important question of all. Did you really ride a motorcycle across the top of Stegeman Coliseum?

A: “Well, you’ve got to call Brad Johnson [UGA running back, 1966-68] because he was the witness. That is an important question. It was an exciting ride. I had an old BSA. I went over the top. Going down the other side was tough. That’s when I got afraid.”

Q: How do you feel about being selected for induction into the College Football Hall of Fame?

A: “I think it’s a team honor more than it is a personal honor, because football is a team sport and if it wasn’t for the good players around me at Georgia or the good players around me in Miami, I wouldn’t be there. If you’re a loser, you lose. But if you win, you’ve got to win as a team. I’m just thankful for my teammates. I’m appreciative of what I’m getting but I wish they would’ve gotten more publicity. I can’t even remember what I did. That’s when you know you’re old. I’ve been real lucky and I’m thankful for it. I try to have some humility about it.”

Q: You’ve kind of infamously been out of the limelight since your retirement from the NFL. Can you explain why you’ve been somewhat hidden from public view?

A: “Well, there’s a great world out there and you need to get out there and see it. You can get caught up in your own life too much. You should go out and see other cultures and see other people and meet different people and just understand what’s going on in the whole world and understand what it’s about. That’s my advice. You’re not going to get really rich, but you’re going to have a good life. You can stay in one place all you like, which is great. But if you get out you find out everybody has the same problems, any races, any cultures, any creeds. That’s what you’ll find out; we’re all stuck here together. We should try to figure out a way to get along.”

Q: When asked about your inclusion in the Hall of Fame, your former coach Vince Dooley said you were the best overall athlete he’d ever coached. What did you think of those remarks?

A: “Well. I don’t know, he’s had some great players there. I must’ve blackmailed him or something for him to say that. But I appreciate that, because we had some great players come through Georgia and some great players who played for Coach Dooley, so I appreciate that statement. I’m not sure if it’s true, but I appreciate it.”

Q: Is it true that you had a rift with Coach Dooley over him accepting a bid to play in the Sugar Bowl rather than the Orange Bowl in 1968? And is that why you decided to leave after your junior season?

A: “Our whole team — and I think Coach Dooley put it in his book — something happened and we were promised we could pick where we wanted to go. And something happened with [former athletic director Joel Eaves] and Coach Dooley where they took the Sugar Bowl. We felt like we had a chance to play for the national championship. This was a team thing. We just felt like he didn’t think we could go over and beat Auburn and that really hurt our team. That’s what it was about, because we thought we were headed for the Orange Bowl. I think we were [ranked] 3 or 4 and 1 and 2 were playing in the Rose Bowl, and we thought we had a chance to win a national championship at the time. That’s how we felt.

“We all wanted the Orange Bowl. We were scheduled to play Kansas in the Orange Bowl. I could be wrong; that’s been a million years ago. But I think that’s what it was. So everybody on our team was really upset because we felt like, if you’ve got a chance to go for the ring, go for the ring.You know, what the hell!”

Q: So was that why you left?

A: “Yeah, that’s why I left. I went up to Canada to play wide receiver. Brad Johnson and I went up to the B.C. Lions and I played wide receiver for a year, just because I wanted to play some offense for a little bit. I got drafted by Miami and Joe Thomas bought me out of my contract and they got me down to Miami. That’s what happened.”

Q: So what have you been doing with your time?

A: “Nothing, just fishing and playing golf. I come back to the mainland a lot. My girlfiend, Laura Braswell, she’s got Buckhead Periodonics. And my mom [Mary H. Scott], she’s in assisted living — well, she calls it ‘independent living – at Merrill Gardens there on Johnson Ferry Road in Atlanta. So I get back and forth a good bit. But mostly just messing around between Hawaii and Georgia and Florida. I get down to Key West where my sister lives. I see her a good bit. Just traveling. We head to New Zealand every now and then and Australia and mess around that way. Mostly traveling and relaxing and fishing, doing what you’re supposed to do when you’re retired, if you’re lucky.”

Q: Do you visit with your former Dolphins’ teammates much?

A: “Every now and then I talk with them. I ran into a bunch of them when I went back down last year [for the Honor Roll induction]. [Larry] Csnoka is always trying to get me to go on his fishing show. But I said, ‘the hell with that.’ If you want to come over here [to Hawaii] I’ll show you the real show on how to fish. We talk to each other every now and the. I talk to Dick Anderson and Jim before he passed away last month. But I always stay in touch.”

Q: What is your most profound on-field memory from Georgia?

A: “I guess when we got lucky and tied Houston [10-10 in 1968]. We went 8-0-2 and Houston just kicked the hell out of us. We got lucky and tied it up. Afterward, Coach Dooley said ‘I hope we can meet them again in a bowl somewhere.’ And Brad Johnson and me looked at each other said, ‘I guess he wasn’t at the same game we were at; I don’t want to see those guys again.’ That’s a true story.

“If you look it up, they killed us. Erk Russell said we’re going to have to hold them to 200 yards rushing. I think they had 220 yards in the first half and they fumbled like five times inside our 2-yard-line. But that was an embarrassing game and we got lucky to tie. They were running the veer option and we couldn’t stop them. We got lucky at the end of the game and Jim McCullough kicked a field goal to tie the game for us. We had a guy named David Rholetter, he was All-SEC tackle, and he went up to McCullough and looked at him and said, ‘McCullough, if you miss this field goal I’m gonna kill you.’ That’s a true story. But you remember your losses more than your wins. ”

Q: Some of said that ‘68 team was as good as any Georgia has ever had?

A: “We had a great football team; we really did. Nobody could block [Bill] Stanfill and we had some great players and some great guys. That’s why I thought we should’ve tried for the national championship. We could play with anybody at the time, except maybe Houston. They had like six No. 1 draft choices.

“We should have won the Tennessee game. We messed up in that one. We should have lost the Houston game, so things balanced out I guess. You can’t worry about it.”

Q: Do you ever get back for Georgia football games these days?

A: “I went to the Alabama game when they lost three or four years ago. They asked Brad Johnson and me to be honorary captains for the coin toss. That’s been about it. I don’t get back much for football games. Crowds, too many people. Can I tell you the truth? Too many people; too many [expletive]. That’s not politcally correct but that’s the truth.”

Q: I loved the story Dave Hyde of the South Florida Sun Sentinel did back in 2006 when he tracked you down in Kauai. Did you read it?

A: “He had it wrong; most of it was wrong. He went to the Tahiti Nui [lounge] and had a few too many beers. But he did a pretty good job. He wrote a good story. I’m just kidding. He made me look a lot better than I am. I think he enjoyed himself while he was here.”

Q: I guess the big question now is whether you’ll actually show up for the black tie induction ceremony at the Waldorf Astoria in December. So will you?

A: “What really happened, I had a good friend, Jim Mandich [former Miami Dolphins player and talk radio personality]. Well, ‘Maddog’ Mandich passed away last month. He called me [earlier this year] and he said, ‘if I get you in the college Hall of Fame, will you cooperate?’ I said, ‘whatever you want me to do, Jim.’ So I’m going.”

Q: So will you continue to keep a low profile?

A: “I haven’t been hiding out. I’ve just been somewhere else.”

92 comments Add your comment

Hollywould

May 23rd, 2011
4:34 pm

Good read Chip. Loved to watch him and Anderson in that Dophin secondary. As an Auburn man, not so much at Georgia.

Hollywould

May 23rd, 2011
4:35 pm

dean

May 23rd, 2011
4:36 pm

Awesome Jake!

Dave in Buford

May 23rd, 2011
4:39 pm

Nice … Scott sounds like a real character who would be fun to hang out with.

Bourbon Dawgwalker

May 23rd, 2011
4:40 pm

This man gets it.

rxdawg79

May 23rd, 2011
4:58 pm

A former roommate of mine told me a story about Scott after he had been kicked out of McWhorter Hall, which was the athletes’ dorm at the time. He got placed in my friend’s hall and was either really really mad or really really loaded one night and walked down the hallway knocking holes in the wall with a broom handle. Everybody was afraid to confront, so they called the UGA police, but they didn’t want to get close to him either. He ran out of hallway (or consciousness) and just walked away.

THAT’s the kind of guy we need in the defensive backfield today.

Black Mountain Bulldog

May 23rd, 2011
5:09 pm

Jake is the coolest dude, to ever play , at Georgia

Ron Roberts

May 23rd, 2011
5:10 pm

Question….what’s the “expletive” that wouldn’t have been politically correct to put in the piece??? Any hints or similar verbage?

Shug

May 23rd, 2011
5:15 pm

What’s it mean to keep a low profile and out of the public view? It means not taking one of those hanger-on jobs like being an NFL analyst or taking some blowhard job with ESPN. It means going out and living the rest of your life.

sandman053

May 23rd, 2011
5:20 pm

I played golf with a guy who was his roomate on the freshman team. It was a pleasurable round of golf and he certainly confirmed a lot of the old stories and told new ones that aren’t fit to print in a family newspaper.
Unfortunately, men like Jake Scott wouldn’t last ten days in Athens (or Tuscaloosa for that matter). Just too damn wild, but the man gave 110% until it was in the bag. Damn Good Dawg!!!

Beast from the East

May 23rd, 2011
5:21 pm

He played before my time, but he sounds like one heckuva character and an even better teammate. You couldn’t come close to getting away with the things some of the athletes did back then. Different times I guess.

Ron Roberts,
My guess would be “a–holes”, but who knows for sure.

John Galt

May 23rd, 2011
5:22 pm

Ron-

I’m guessing the end of the G-I tract……

Effie's of Athens Boarding House

May 23rd, 2011
5:23 pm

Great article, Mr. Towers.

Bob

May 23rd, 2011
5:24 pm

Chip, probably your finest article…thanks. Jake and I had several classes together and he was one of a kind. Too bad we don’t have these “characters” around anymore.

Marvin

May 23rd, 2011
5:26 pm

Jake was 16 when he was Kelley’s (Athenians will know who I’m talking about) only helper on the annual Athens YMCA California bus trip I went on in the 6th grade. Never saw him again before he was playing football at UGA. Never talked to him during his UGA years saw him in Athens after he won Super Bowl MVP during thier undefeated season. Was amazed that he remembered my name. Had nice chat with him. Could not have been nicer. Agree with Black Mtn. Dog – he was the coolest dude to ever play for the Dogs.

sogadog

May 23rd, 2011
5:30 pm

Great article. I would love to see more players (and coaches) like Jake Scott today.

Bob

May 23rd, 2011
5:32 pm

@Effie’s…I bet Jake spent more time with Athens’ telephone operators than visiting at your boarding house.

Snoop Dawg

May 23rd, 2011
5:38 pm

UGA Football needs more Jake Scotts…

Rick

May 23rd, 2011
5:48 pm

Jake Scott was my favorite football player ever. And ever is a long time as I am seventy one now. Larry Csonka would be a close second and Dick Anderson would be in there too. These guys were all amazing and a lot of fun to watch and root for. Bob Griese was the smartest quarterback if not the most talented, and the whole team back then was just amazing as the 17 – 0 season suggests. I miss them like I miss Johnny Cash.

patrocket

May 23rd, 2011
5:51 pm

Great interview. Great Bulldog.

Needs to grow up. A man who holds a 40 year grudge (against a class guy like Dooley) about which bowl game to play in has real issues.

Pope UGA XXIII

May 23rd, 2011
5:53 pm

Outstanding article about an outstanding player.
Word was always out on campus about which athletes you did not
mess with unless you had drawn your will and had lots of life insurance.
Jake Scott was on that list as was Ray Jeffords of the roundball team.
Throw in Dennis Hughes just for good measure and you always kept
your distance around those guys.
I was in the student section at the 1968 Houston game and that was
probably the greatest talent gap in a game other than the 1971 Sun Bowl
playing Nebraska and Rich Glover. How UGA managed a tie with Houston
is one of life’s mysteries.
Kind of like knowing whether Jake drove the cycle across the top of
the Coliseum !!

Some things are more important than money

May 23rd, 2011
6:03 pm

Vince Dooley has no more class than Jake Scott.

Buster

May 23rd, 2011
6:05 pm

I was in college at UGA when Jake played and I honestly believe he was the best football player I have ever seen (including Herschel)! He was so ‘in the zone’ it was unbelievable. Scott Woerner was a great defensive back in his day but he was no Jake Scott!

patrocket

May 23rd, 2011
6:06 pm

“Vince Dooley has no more class than Jake Scott.”

Wrong.

shane#1

May 23rd, 2011
6:32 pm

Jake is a free spirit and could care less what anyone else thinks. He has better things to do with his time. My favorite story about Jake happened after he moved to the Rockies. Jake was in a bar and a big guy walked up and asked if he had really been an NFL player. Jake said yes and the big guy told Jake that he was the toughest SOB around and that he was going to kick Jake’s a$$. Jake decked the guy with one punch and knocked him out cold. Jake looked around the bar and said”is he really the toughest guy ya’ll have around here?”

Vince D.

May 23rd, 2011
7:18 pm

No.13 was a football player.

lanier

May 23rd, 2011
7:19 pm

RIP Jake Scott football player. Kick ass Jake Scott loving life guy

Ted Striker

May 23rd, 2011
7:30 pm

Fantastic interview. Thanks to all who made it happen.

TechRon

May 23rd, 2011
7:44 pm

I was at Tech when Scott was at UGA. I have to tell you, he was amazing. There have been very few like him. A truly great player.
I remember him so well. He was always doing what it took to win.
A prototype winner. Great article. Thank you.

asa

May 23rd, 2011
7:52 pm

patrocket you know nothing about georgia football jake scott the greatest character to ever play at georgia

DAWG ONE

May 23rd, 2011
8:02 pm

Let’s not paint Jake as some kind of disjointed individual. Jake is one of the nicest guys you could meet. He didn’t look for trouble, but did not back away from it. His mom was a professor and if I am not mistaken, a PHD.
A great athlete and always friendly. Like someone said, also one of “Kelley’s Boys” growing up at the Athens Y.

macrotech

May 23rd, 2011
8:16 pm

Chip, I LOVE that you were able to share this convo with all of us….THIS guy, sadly, represents the dying breed of football player that made college football so great! He was never about the spotlight and opts to LIVE life now as opposed to living in the past! “I haven’t been hiding out. I’ve just been somewhere else”….GREAT LINE! As Jake Scott might say, “That’s a true story”!

icedawg

May 23rd, 2011
8:48 pm

Loved the interview. Scott was one of the best and exciting players to watch. He was tall and had long legs and when he got the ball he could make people miss. I remember the Houston game. Vintage Dooley-Russell football. Bend but don’t break. Keep the other team from scoring and score a field goal to win it. The 1966-68 teams were gutsy and fun to watch.

tomtrojan

May 23rd, 2011
8:51 pm

Jake Scott and Ronnie Lott! Best I have ever seen!

Max Sizemore

May 23rd, 2011
9:28 pm

Jake’s 90-yard punt return gave UGA the lead in the 1968 opener at Tennessee, but the Vols came back to tie it 17-17. I was there.

pforan

May 23rd, 2011
9:59 pm

Doesn’t sound like he is holding any kind of grudge. He has moved on and is living his life to the fullest. Bothe he and Dooley are classy individuals and any effort to paint either in any other light would be a travesty.

patrocket

May 23rd, 2011
10:14 pm

Asa, I’ve forgotten more Georgia football than you will ever know. As I said, Scott is a great Bulldogs.

What I said is that a man who holds a 40 year grudge, over what was at worst a mistake in judgement has issues. I standy by that. Dooley didn’t sleep with his wife or steal money from him.

And pforan, if he has indeed finally moved on, that is a great thing. But apparently he wouldn’t have anything to do with the program as long as Dooley was there (per the Sun Sentinel). He has held a similar grudge against Don Shula for some perceived slight. Dooley and Shula are almost universally recognized as men of sterling character.

BigNCDawg

May 23rd, 2011
10:27 pm

You are one of the best athletes to ever play for the Bulldogs. Brad Johnson was in my gymnastics class and you would come in and the end of class. I almost got you killed by daring you to vault the horse. You did but fell on the vault. I almost had heart failure when you fell. I hope Rita is doing well. I was in highschool with her at Athens high.

63 Year old grad / fan

May 23rd, 2011
10:47 pm

I too wish UGA COULD have players like Jake Scott today. Of course, in this ultra PC environment and with the intrusive eye of the NCAA, “Jake Scott” would be banned, if he was ever even recruited. I miss the good ole days. I too was at UGA with Jake, Stanfill, Cavan, et al.

Mobile Dawg

May 23rd, 2011
10:53 pm

Stories like these are classic. Gotta wonder what would happen in todays environment if things like this happened. Like the pig roast in 1980. Jake was leaving as I was becoming a fledgling Dawg. He sounds like a guy I would get along with. What’s the difference between guys getting into trouble now and then? Different times I guess, I sure preferred the old times. Thanks Chip.

LC

May 23rd, 2011
11:00 pm

As a Tech fan I don’t have any problems declaring Jake the best college db I’ve ever witnessed. He was a pleasure to watch and is one of my all-time favorites. Good article Chip!

dallasdawg

May 23rd, 2011
11:08 pm

NOW 13 WAS A DAWG !!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ben

May 23rd, 2011
11:23 pm

Reminds me of another colorful player from SC, Alex Hawkins…… It’s actually Johnson Ferry Rd, without the ’s’ at the end to indicate possession, but you’re excused Mr. Scott & Mr. Towers. Amazing how many people live near the road and call it Johnson’s Ferry; perhaps you, dear reader, will have your misperception corrected too…(Mr. Scott sounds too dangerous to tell about this)

Dawg1

May 23rd, 2011
11:24 pm

Good job. That was fun…

Bryan G.

May 23rd, 2011
11:26 pm

I’m guessing the deleted expletive was “a-holes”, but I may be wrong. Chip, can’t you help???

shane#1

May 24th, 2011
12:11 am

Paratrocket, the “perceived” slighr from Shula was that Shula wanted Scott to shoot up his hammy with pain killer to play in a pre-season game. Shoot up with a pulled hammy and you can’t feel a tear. Tear a hammy and your career is over. Jake refused and Shula told him that if he didn’t want to play the Dolphins had some young DBs that wanted to play. Scott said play’em and trade me. I heard this from a team mate of his in Miami. BTW, Scott was traded to the Redskins and got a 100,000 dollar raise. Not bad for being fired, huh? Pro football is a business and players are a commidity. The sooner a player realizes that he is a piece of meat and loyalty belongs to himself and not the team, and damm sure not the owners, the better off he will be.

nobody

May 24th, 2011
1:54 am

played freshman ball with Jake…no doubt, he could have started at any position he wanted…qb, wr, s, whatever… he could read a qb’s mind like you and I read a book…..nice as they come…serious, but always a grin…everything came easy for him…probably reading all this stuff and remembering why he went away to begin with…no disrespect to Hershel, but Jake probably is the best athlete to ever come through UGA…..Jake, glad I saw you at the reunion of the 65 freshmen team…regards.. … keep having a good life…scratch…:)

Dirty Dawg

May 24th, 2011
2:26 am

I too am curious as to what Jake and/or Mr. Towers would consider to be a non-politically correct expletive. I sure hope it would not involve prejudice of any kind and if he believes his ‘….we’re all stuck here together…(and)…need to figure out how to get along’, it couldn’t.

And as for whether or not it is, or ever was, Johnson’s Ferry, my bet is that one had to pay Mr. Johnson to ride on ‘his’ ferry-boat if one wanted to get to the other side.

Shieldy

May 24th, 2011
4:33 am

Met him at Sidelines several years ago & he couldn’t have been nicer or more humble. Dooley was over-rated in my opinion & I’ve heard Shula could be an arse! Oh well, we all can!

SuperB

May 24th, 2011
6:43 am

Jake “The Snake” Scott was a legend in athens– IN A LOT OF PLACES! (If you know what I mean) If not, don’t ask.