Ron Medved: The Husky Who Wanted to Play Every Down
Ron Medved was always in the middle of the action when he played football for the University of Washington. The offensive backfield. The defensive secondary. The kicking game. This photograph.
With no apologies to the versatile Shaq Thompson, who skillfully switched between inside linebacker and running back at the UW in 2014, Medved represents the Huskies' last great two-way player, based on variety of duties fulfilled and minutes served.
As a senior in 1965, Medved played an entire game at running back, safety and placekicker in a 16-12 defeat to the California Bears in Berkeley.
He rushed 28 yards for the game's first score, handled special-teams obligations and led the defensive charge.
"The units would leave the field and I'd just stay out there," he said.
Medved's marathon UW game came two seasons after college football abandoned single-platoon football and moved primarily to players who became position specialists.
Everyone was a two-way college player previous to that, but players received periodic breaks when entire units regularly substituted in. The Huskies broke things down into the 11-man Purple team, Gold, White, Green, etc.
Against Cal in '65, Medved went the distance like no other Husky. The UW found itself shorthanded in the secondary after a rash of injuries and Medved, a starting running back and the regular kicker, volunteered to play safety, too. He didn't need a break.
As the oldest of 12 children, including nine boys, the Tacoma native proved naturally competitive. He also prided himself in being able to handle multiple roles as an athlete. He earned 10 letters in football, basketball and track at Bellarmine Prepatory School.
Medved, shown in the photo with UW coach Jim Owens and teammate Ralph Winters, went to the NFL as a 14th-round draft pick and a decided long shot to make the roster. He played five seasons for the Philadelphia Eagles, all on defense, though not all at the same position. He was a strong safety who embraced a temporary starting assignment midway through his pro career.
In 1968, with the Eagles shy of linebackers because of injuries, Medved volunteered and started on the second row for four games. He weighed 195 pounds. He naturally got tested.
Quarterback Sonny Jurgenson brought the Washington Redskins to the line of scrimmage for the first play, took one look at Medved at linebacker and immediately called an audible directing the play toward him. Others did the same.
"We played against the Chicago Bears and Gayle Sayers," he said, referring to the Hall of Fame running back. "Imagine him coming around the end with a big tackle in front of him, and you being the linebacker and trying to set the edge and get a hand on him."
As an NFL player, Medved took an interest in the psychological aspect of performance, began reading books and brought them to training camp. He determined right away that he had to be mentally tough to make it in the pros. He turned this vocation into a post-football career, too.
For much of the past 45 years, he's worked with Seattle's Pacific Institute, which tries to instill a high-performance mindset in clients. He became vice president of business development and took research breakthroughs to market. He's still looking for innovational approaches.
With so much high-level football behind him, Medved agreed in 2018 to see how he fared from all of that contact. He was examined by an NFL-provided neurologist. For two days, he engaged in 15 different tests to see if he had suffered any declining brain function. A month later, he received the results.
"I was average and average was a win," he said
Medved, who breaks down his most impressive two-way game tomorrow on Husky Maven/Sports Illustrated, brought a competitive mindset that made him a nonstop player. It's his enduring football legacy.
"I just wanted to play," he said. "I looked for every opportunity."