Jim Jodat…Buddy Holly Glasses, Iron Man

So I’m watching a Rams/49ers game from 1977 when announcer Vin Scully mentions to his cohort Sonny Jergensen that the Rams kick returner is wearing coke-bottle, Buddy Holly-style glasses, which immediately catches my attention. I had never seen such a thing and was instantly intrigued. Who was this guy? (note: this was also Joe Namath’s last game as a starter for the Rams, outdueling Jim Plunkett 34-14.)

I must admit that Jim Jodat certainly didn’t look like much of an athlete, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wrote.

He had a squatty build and suspect eyesight, but he sure could run. The 5-foot-11, 210-pound Milwaukee native also had a fanatical work ethic and gritty determination that drove him to become Carthage College’s career leader in rushing, to play in the NFL for seven seasons, and to return the opening kickoff in Super Bowl XIV in 1980.

In 1976, Jodat was selected by the Los Angeles Rams in the 12th round of the NFL draft, the 344th overall pick. He went on to play with the Rams, the Seattle Seahawks, and the San Diego Chargers over seven seasons.

Jodat spent his rookie season on injured reserve with a sprained knee. In 1977 he made his mark on special teams since the Rams’ backfield was clogged with talented backs John Cappelletti, Lawrence McCutcheon, Cullen Bryant, and Wendell Tyler.

“He was behind a lot of great players with the Rams, but Jim was never a guy to try and talk a coach into more playing time,” Tom Brannon said. “He just didn’t have that kind of personality.”

In January 1980, Jodat appeared on the cover of The Sporting News as the special teams’ captain for the Rams. Jodat, as mentioned above, returned the opening kickoff for Los Angeles in Super Bowl XIV against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Unfortunately, the Steelers won, 31-19 after the Rams let a 19-17 lead dissolve in the fourth quarter.

Jodat died on October 21, 2015, of cancer in Lake Forest, Ca.


7 thoughts on “Jim Jodat…Buddy Holly Glasses, Iron Man

  1. retrosimba

    Thank you for the story of Jim Jodat, Gary. I didn’t know about him. I was intrigued after reading your piece and did a little research of my own. In May 2004, the Racine Journal Times did a good interview with him about his career, and I thought you might like some of the details.

    When Jim Jodat was a freshman in high school, his father died of a heart attack at 52. Jim’s mother, Sylvia Jodat, made sure she could provide for Jim and his sister. “Instead of having one job, she got another job, so she could pay for my (high school) tuition,” Jodat told the Journal Times. “That just tells you what kind of woman she was. She was a waitress and a hostess, and she got an early-morning shift at 4 o’clock for the breakfast (crowd) at the Plankington House in Milwaukee. It was just the pride of the lady. That has impacted me my entire life.”

    Jodat said he had football scholarship offers from Big Ten schools, including Wisconsin, but said he chose Carthage College in Kenosha because the campus was a shorter drive from his mom’s house in Milwaukee, and because football there was not run like the big business it is at larger schools.

    “It wasn’t a big-time program,” Jodat told the Racine newspaper, “and the people were playing because they wanted to, not because they were on big-time scholarships.”

    In 1977, when he was in the NFL, the Rams went to Milwaukee for a game there against the Packers. According to the Racine newspaper, Jodat brought Rams players, including Joe Namath, Jack Youngblood, Larry Brooks and John Cappelletti, to his mother Sylvia Jodat’s house for home cooking.

    After Jodat was traded to the Seahwaks, running back Sherman Smith got injured. Jodat was the leading rusher (632 yards) for the 1980 Seahawks, a team that featured Jim Zorn at quarterback and Steve Largent at wide receiver.

    After his playing career, Jodat was a teacher in the Orange County (California) Department of Education, according to the Racine newspaper.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jim Everett Table Toss Post author

      Thanks for this, Mark. I’ve always been intrigued by players that no one really remembers and I’m glad I met you because you have that same interest. Of course, about one-tenth of one percent of the population actually cares, but still we trudge along because we love it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. viewfromoverthehill

    I found this post particularly interesting since I wore strong glasses at three. An avid reader, I continue to read despite macular degeneration with the aid of a reading machine when needed. Why give up what you love? Muriel

    Liked by 1 person


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s