Okay, he’s not going to be QB’ing the club, but he’ll be leading its offense. And its defense. And its player operations.
On Monday, former NFL quarterback Jim Zorn was introduced as the head coach and general manager of Seattle’s new XFL franchise.
Zorn joins the new spring league as the third announced head coach, after Bob Stoops with the Dallas franchise and Pep Hamilton with the Washington, D.C. club. The second iteration of the XFL will take to the field in February 2020 with 8 teams, all owned by WWE mastermind Vince McMahon in a single-entity structure similar to Major League Soccer.
“It’s going to be real football,” Zorn explained at Monday’s presser, playing off of his initial impressions of hearing McMahon’s involvement and the less-than-enthusiastic reception to the 2001 version of the league. “We’re gonna have real names on the back of jerseys,” he quipped. The “extreme” earlier version famously allowed players to wear colorful nicknames like “Deathblow” and “He Hate Me”.
In introducing the new head coach, league commissioner Oliver Luck, father to Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew, remarked on Zorn’s “innovative” and “creative” quarterback style as being emblematic of the new XFL. Zorn shared his excitement over the league’s creative “tweaks” to the clock and ball placement as part of rule changes designed to make the pro game faster and more exciting.
Zorn is no stranger to an expansion team or the Emerald City, hitting the lawn as the Seattle Seahawks first field general from their inaugural season in 1976 to 1984. He was benched in favor of his successor, Dave Krieg, 7 weeks into the team’s most successful season in the AFC, 1983. Yet, while Krieg would help lead the team all the way to the AFC Championship game in their first playoff participation, it was Zorn who stepped into the second half of that game to put points on the board after Krieg proved ineffective against the Raiders.
After retirement from the NFL in 1987 following stints with the Bays, Green and Tampa, and even part of a season in the CFL, Zorn became an assistant coach at the college level. Ten years later, he’d move to the NFL, primarily as an offensive assistant and quarterbacks coach for the Seahawks, Detroit, Baltimore, and Kansas City.
Zorn is not without head coaching experience. He was initially hired in January 2008 as the offensive coordinator of the Washington NFL team following the retirement of head coach Joe Gibbs. It was a scant few weeks later that owner Daniel Snyder promoted Zorn to the head chair as well.
He came out of the gate fairly successful, notching a 6-2 record to start the season. They’d finish the season 8-8, though, and start the next year 2-4 before the offensive play calling was handed off to assistant Sherman Lewis. The team would finish 2009 with just four wins and Zorn was handed his parting gift.
He hasn’t coached at any level since being replaced by Andy Reid’s new staff in Kansas City following the 2012 season.
Looking forward to developing young talent that got lost in the NFL shuffle, Zorn called on fans to embrace the new team with the kind of enthusiasm and support the city has come to be known for in recent years. The team will play its home games at CenturyLink Field like its NFL cousin.