Golden Jacket Spotlight: No one loved football more than Jack Youngblood

In his book “Time Enough to Win,” Hall of Famer Roger Staubach (Class of 1985) said of Jack, “I consider him a phenomenal player. I should give Youngblood the vote as the best defensive player I’ve ever played against.

Offensive Lineman and Hall of Famer (Class of ’96) Dan Dierdorf proclaimed, “I didn’t play well against Jack. He is the best. That’s all we can say about it.”

Dierdorf suggested that further clashes against Jack could have hampered his own rise to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, noting, “I will say this about Jack, and I say it with great humility: if I were to play against Jack Youngblood eight times a year, I wouldn’t be there.

Jack’s best performance as a professional might have been against the Dierdorf Cardinals in a playoff game in 1975. Jack recorded a sack (an unofficial stat until 1982), forced a fumble, blocked a attempted an extra run and returned an intercepted pass from Jim Hart 47 yards out for a touchdown.

Jack’s ability, effort and courage might have been best, and most humorously, assumed by Hall of Fame coach John Madden (Class of 2006) with his oft-repeated line: “If a Martien would land in my garden, knock on my door and ask, ‘What is a football player?’ I said, “Go get me Jack Youngblood.”

Jack played in 201 consecutive games, was named the 1975 NFL UPI Defensive Player of the Year, and was selected to the NFL All-Decade Team of the 1970s. He appeared in seven consecutive Pro Bowls (1973-79) , was selected All-NFC seven times and All-Pro five times.

He racked up the accolades and made a Super Bowl appearance, but many fans remember Jack as the man who played with a fractured fibula in 1979.

During a divisional playoff game against the Cowboys, Jack was injured in the first half. After Jack encouraged the team’s coaching staff to “record the thing, give me two more aspirins and let’s go play”, he ended that game.

Jack went on to play the NFC Championship Game, Super Bowl XIV and Pro Bowl with the broken bone.

“Just to have a guy like that dress up. You know he was hurt. You know everyone has to step back and say, ‘Wow, that’s what this is about,’ said teammate Larry Brooks.

When asked by Sports Illustrated about his decision to play in the Pro Bowl, Jack amusingly offered, “I wasn’t going to miss the party. I’m going to Hawaii. We go (go) and have a Mai Tai.

Olsen, Jack’s presenter during his Hall of Fame induction, said, “I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who loved playing football more than Jack Youngblood.”

A 1979 Pro Bowl program “Insight” article agreed with Olson’s belief, stating, “Jack Youngblood plays football like my 8-year-old daughter licks icing bowls. Maybe it’s not religion , but it’s close and obviously nice.