Zorn was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Dallas Cowboys in 1975, the same year they had their famed Dirty Dozen draft. He would make the team, but was later cut to make room for running back Preston Pearson, who had been waived by the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Seattle Seahawks took advantage and claimed him off waivers.
He would become a star starting QB for the Seahawks in their early days from 1976–83, before his position was taken byDave Krieg and he was demoted to second-string quarterback midway through the 1983 season. He held second-string/backup quarterback positions with the Seahawks (1983–84), the Packers (1985), the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League (1986), and the Buccaneers (1987), before retiring following the 1987 NFL season.
Seattle Seahawks (1976–84)
After spending a year out of football, he signed as a free agent with the Seattle Seahawks in 1976. Zorn is closely associated with his favorite passing target, Hall of Fame wide receiver Steve Largent. Largent was the first Seahawk inducted into the team’s “Ring of Honor” (1989), and Zorn was second (1991). Zorn was named NFC Offensive Rookie of the Year by theNational Football League Players Association following the team’s inaugural 1976 season. He was also the Seahawks’ teamMVP, throwing for 12 touchdowns and rushing for four touchdowns. His three consecutive 3,000-yard seasons were tops in team history, since broken by Matt Hasselbeck in 2005, and he was the first Seattle quarterback to record back-to-back 300-plus yard games—a feat he accomplished twice.
He was succeeded by Dave Krieg midway through the 1983 season, the year the Seahawks first made the NFL playoffs. Zorn stayed with the team as a second-string quarterback until the end of the 1984 season.
Zorn was well known as one of the more prolific scrambling quarterbacks of his day. The excitement of his style of play is what kept fans coming back to the Kingdome again and again. Many people reverently referred to him as “the left-handedFran Tarkenton.” He was named the 8th best mobile quarterback by NFL.com in 2008
Green Bay Packers and Winnipeg Blue Bombers (1985–86)
The Green Bay Packers signed Zorn to the second-string quarterback position in 1985. The Packers finished the season 8–8, 2nd in the NFC Central, but not enough to make the playoffs. The Packers released Zorn in the 1985–86 NFL off-season. Zorn decided to take a season off from the NFL and signed on to a backup quarterback position with the CFL‘s Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 1986, where he played one game before leaving the team and being released once again.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers and retirement (1987)
In 1987, Zorn decided to come back to the NFL after only one season with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. He signed on with his third NFL team (fourth overall), the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He managed to play one final game with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a replacement player during the 1987 NFL strike before officially retiring. The 1987 Bucs finished the season 4–11, missing the playoffs. In the NFL, Zorn threw for 21,115 yards and 111 touchdowns, completing 53% of his passes. He also ran for another 17 touchdowns.
Smallthoughts:Old School Tuesday salutes Jim Zorn.