MT. LAUREL, N.J. | Ron Jaworski is the lead analyst on Monday Night Football. He owns three golf courses. He gives motivational speeches. He's part-owner of a hotel. He recently became a grandfather. He's going to Pebble Beach in March. He's president of an Arena League Football team.
God, it's a wonderful life for the Philly ex-jock, isn't it?
Well, it's Tuesday morning at NFL Films headquarters, located near the end of a nondescript business park about 30 miles from Philadelphia, and it apparently gets better for Jaworski.
"Look at that! Can you believe that!" shouts Jaworski, pointing toward the huge TV screen about five feet in front of his face.
"Again, Shawne Merriman is being blocked by one guy, (Colts left tackle) Tony Ugoh. That's all. They're not even chipping him (with a running back)," he says. "I can't believe it. The Colts are treating Merriman like a regular guy. Trust me, Bill Belichick sees this, too."
You'd have thought he found gold in Alaska. You wonder if Albert Einstein got as excited when he figured out that E=mc2.
Jaworski and his lead producer, Greg Cosell, flanked a few feet behind "Jaws," as he is called by his friends and co-workers, confer after the finding.
They conclude that this issue | Merriman possibly being overrated | is worth highlighting on their "State Farm NFL Matchup" show on ESPN, and produced by NFL Films, every Sunday morning.
"We have to do this Jaws," said Cosell, a nephew of probably the greatest sports media personality of all-time, Howard Cosell.
"The country believes that Merriman is a great player. I'm sure New England fans believe Merriman is a great player. The Colts apparently don't think so," he said. "And neither do I."
This is Jaworski's life from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday during the NFL season. He comes to NFL Films headquarters to see the real film of the games, called "coaches film."
Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory has nothing on NFL Films, which is an arm of the NFL, employing 400 people that film and edit everything in and around pro football stadiums.
"Isn't this place incredible?" says Jaworski. "It's a dream world for someone like me. I could stay here all day."
On this day, he practically does as he watches every play from the AFC Divisional playoffs. The next day is NFC Day.
While he has many other interests and financial pursuits, Jaworski says this work, breaking down coaches' film, is what cranks up his heart rate the most.
"I do a lot of things and have a lot of interests, but this is my job," said Jaworski, who is holding the clicker for the TV. "This is what I do. I watch film and then I talk about it. I love it. I love every minute of it."
It is about 9:45 a.m. and Jaworski's cell phone rings for the first of what would be a few dozen times during his nine hours in his office at NFL Films.
Some of the calls are from NFL coaches | New Orleans coach Sean Payton called | some are from writers looking for Jaworski's take on something.
This particular time he stops what he is doing. He adjusts his glasses and cranks his neck back to see the incoming phone number.
He apologizes to the five guys in his office. "Sorry," he says politely, "I have to get this."
"Hi, this is Ron," he says, before a three-second lull. "I'm doing terrific!"
Yes, Ron Jaworski is terrific.
Jaworski is always terrific. The smile and the exuberance you see on those football programs, be it Sunday Night Football, NFL Live or the State Farm NFL Matchup show, are real … on and off the set.
"What you see on TV is what we see every day," says Cosell, his producer for the last 18 years. "The guy is a happy guy. He's got a lot of energy. And he loves what he does. Isn't that obvious?"
Among other things, the 56-year-old former NFL quarterback runs a management company that oversees his many business venture gives motivational speeches; he owns three golf courses; he is team president of the Philadelphia Soul of the Arena Football League, owned by Jon Bon Jovi; he is part-owner of the Holiday Inn-Philadelphia Stadium hotel, across the street from the Phillies news park.
He also just completed his first year as lead analyst for Monday Night Football, which moved to ESPN in 2006.
He sounds like a busy guy, right?
"Busy? Sure. I have to budget my time wisely," said Jaworski. "But work? I've never worked a day in my life."
This particular day he is doing what he loves best, watching film, while prepping for the football show of football shows, State Farm NFL Matchup.
"This is my real job," said Jaworski, holding some statistics on blitzing from the NFL. "This is what I do.
"It's the second best job in the world," he said. "The best job is playing … on Sunday. Right now, Tom Brady has the best job in the world, playing football this Sunday. I have the second best, talking about it."
Jaworski is a good talker.
The Upstate New York was famous for his gift of gab as a 17-year player in the NFL, most of which was with the Philadelphia Eagles (10 years).
One of the most likeable players in the league, there is a reason he is a fan favorite in the area he still calls home.
The fact that he led the Eagles to four consecutive playoff appearances, which equaled the amount of playoff appearances they had made the previous 45 seasons, probably had something to do with his popularity, not to mention a Super Bowl berth in 1980 (He was NFL MVP in 1980).
Jaworski still holds the Eagles franchise mark for career passing yards (26,963), which should be broken by Donovan McNabb (25,404) next season, barring a trade or release.
A picture on the wall of Jaworski's desk pretty much explains how good that area had it back in 1980. The photo, which was taken by Life Magazine, has four of Philadelphia's biggest sports icons from that year | Jaworski, Julius Erving (76ers), Tug McGraw (Phillies) and Pete Peeters (Flyers) | all in their respective Philadelphia home uniforms.
All four franchises | Eagles, 76ers, Phillies and Flyers | made the championship finals in their respective sports, with only the Phillies crowned as champion.
"What a time that was around here," said Jaworski. "I had season tickets to the Sixers games back then. And I went to Flyers and Phillies games, too. It is sort of like it is in Boston right now. Everybody was a winner. This really was a sports town."
Like his career as a professional quarterback, his career in television was not handed to him on a platter.
While he is treated like a superstar, out of Dick Vitale's ilk, while on the road, it was a long road to Monday Night Football and being a star on shows produced by NFL Films.
"Let's just say it wasn't like Troy Aikman, who immediately became the lead analyst (at FOX) as soon as his career ended," said Jaworski. "I went the long route. But that's OK. I'm used to that."
Immediately after his retirement in 1990, Jaworski got his start on a program produced by NFL Films, called the "Zenith NFL Monday Night Matchup" show on ESPN.
It was his first taste of "coaching."
"I loved it," said Jaworski. "Everyone that knows me knows I like to talk, and especially about football. This was perfect for me. It wasn't high profile, but it was doing what I always loved doing, which is watching film and doing the preparation. I always loved that part."
Jaworski has also learned the fans want to know more than what they see on their TV sets. They realize the sport is more complex than anyone can imagine.
"Fans love the X's and O's," said Jaworski. "They want to know more about football. I think that's why the (State Farm NFL Matchup) show has been such a success.
"I get e-mails and letters from fans and coaches from all over the country," said Jaworski. "That's the best part for me, when a high school coach says he's going to use a play or formation we talked about."
Jaworski and his co-host Merril Hoge, who does all of his research and film work at his home in Kentucky | NFL Films sends him the coaches film | confer during the week about their individual pieces.
"We have a great relationship," said Jaworski. "He's a former running back and believes you have to run the ball all the time or you can't be a great team. I believe you have to throw the ball. We have some great arguments. He's fun to work with."
Jaworski says Cosell, who has spent 29 years with NFL Films and 18 years working on the "Matchup" show, is virtually his right-hand man when it comes to preparation.
Cosell, an 1978 Amherst College graduate, begins breaking down film and researching scenarios to explore for the Sunday show on Monday mornings. By the time Jaworski arrives on Tuesday they immediately immerse themselves into film work.
"Greg is one of the best in the business when it comes to seeing things on film," said Jaworski. "He could be a coach, he's that good. Other than NFL coaches, I don't think anybody sees more film than Greg."
There is no beginning or no end to Jaworski's work week during the NFL season.
The closest to a start is Tuesdays, when he arrives at NFL Films to do prep work for the State Farm NFL Matchup show. He watches film of most games, looking for three days, Tuesday through Thursday, searching for the ultimate "matchup."
On Friday the show is taped in Mt. Laurel, N.J. for ESPN, which has an incestuous relationship with the NFL (website, radio and TV). Immediately following the show he hops a plane and heads to the Monday Night Football site.
"I get there on Friday because I want to be at the Saturday walk-through," said Jaworski. "I love that. I talk to head coaches, assistant coaches and players. It's my favorite day because it's all football. I like to get the guys one on one. I don't like the TV meetings (also on Saturdays) because coaches aren't always as open with 15 people around."
He says he has a personal rule when he talks to coaches, be it for Monday Night Football or the "Matchup" show.
"I talk about football. I don't talk about drugs, contracts or any of that stuff," said Jaworski. "I want to talk about the game. I think coaches respect that about me. I think that's why they are open to me. I let other people do the stories about off-the-field problems."
While at the Monday Night Football site he watches the last four games, offense and defense, of each team, on his laptop. He doesn't have to do it. He just does.
"I figure that's my job. I want to be prepared," said Jaworski. "You see things before the game and then you see things during the game."
Jaworski then works the Monday Night Football game, which is like a dream come true.
"I love the spontaneity of the live games," said Jaworski. "It's the game everyone watches. My blood is flowing just like the players' is."
After the game, he gets a few hours sleep … and then his week starts all over again.
He flies back to Philadelphia International and goes straight to the NFL Films offices, luggage in his car, to look at film from the previous weekend.
"I am very busy, but I budget my time," said Jaworski, who is married (Liz) with three children, Joleen (31), Jessica (30), and William (24). "I've always carved out time to be with the family. My wife sometimes comes with me to Monday Night Football games. My kids used to come to games with me."
On this particular night last week, after nine hours in the office, Jaworski is trying to get things in order so he can see his grandson of 11 months before he goes to bed.
"I can't wait to see him," said Jaworski. "He smiles all of the time."
Are we surprised?
It is game film spliced together by NFL Films editors immediately after each game so that every play | offense, defense and special teams | can be seen from two camera angles, sideline and end zone. The sideline shot is first followed by the end zone shot. A quick shot of the scoreboard is shown after each play to show the down, distance and score. The two angles allow "coaches" to see formations, pass routes, coverages and blocking patterns.
"The worst view in the world is from field-level," said Ron Jaworski. "So when you hear a coach say he needs to look at the film, he's telling the truth. You see what happens and you can see why it happens. The tape doesn't lie."