Mr. Rodgers' Neighborhood: Remembering Jim Lambright

Dan Raley

Jimmy Rodgers was one of the leaders of the "Purple Reign" defense, a co-captain who represented the vaunted stop unit that terrorized opponents of the 1984 Washington football team.

He showed up in the back row at strong safety. Laying his body out at all times, he was a fearless player. 

To be someone willing to put his health at risk without a second thought, Rodgers had to be a mischief-maker to balance out this mindset.

Someone who took chances when on duty and off. A person who pushed limits. A guy who got into trouble.

Jim Lambright, who died on Sunday at 77 and was Rodgers' former UW defensive coordinator and the architect of this intimidating group of Huskies, both loved and abhorred him for it.

In this stance, as Rodgers recalls on the video, he simply traded jerseys with Huskies running back and good buddy Brenno DeFeo and went to practice. 

Lambright caught on to this masquerade fairly soon. Nothing escaped the coach's watchful eye when he was around his UW players. He came sprinting over and started screaming at his offending defensive back.

The way Jimmy retells this Husky stadium encounter, you can almost feel Lambright's fury and hot breath coming down on him. His temper had no bounds. 

More than one Husky defensive player will tell you they were often at odds with the tough-minded Jim Lambright, but they forever loved the guy.

Rodgers was no different. They made each other uncomfortable. But they always made up.


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