Of More Than 400 Husky Football Captains, One Stands Out the Most

This University of Washington leader helped win a lot of games, get a Don James statue done and made the school induct him and his teammates into the hall of fame.
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They represent the University of Washington football team and interact with game officials, their coaches, teammates.

Shaking hands with the referees and the opponents, they call the coin flip in the air and supply vocal leadership at all times.

When everything's on the line and the clock's ticking down, these individuals challenge everyone to step up and deliver.

They're Husky game captains.

Over 131 UW football seasons, more than 400 players have accepted this all-encompassing responsibility and stride to the middle of the field to get things moving, and if nothing else project a moment of strength when first engaging the enemy.

Frank Griffiths was the team captain for the initial Husky team put together in 1896 that played and lost a lone game that late-century football season against the Eastern College Alumni. 

Last fall, Jaxson Kirkland, Cade Otton, Elijah Molden and Keith Taylor together assumed the captains' roles for each UW game during a similarly short and extra-challenging pandemic schedule.

Out of all of these field generals who have emerged over more than a century of Husky football, representing the best of the best in a UW uniform, one has stood out above the rest, according to former Rose Bowl offensive tackle Don Dow.

Jimmy Rodgers.

In 1984, he captained the UW's Orange Bowl-bound team, one that beat Michigan and Oklahoma in the same season, sharing this honor with Tim Meamber, Dan Eernisee and Danny Green. A strong safety, Rodgers exuded toughness and inspiration at all times. He loved his teammates and made them respect him. 

Mostly, he accepted that mantle and never let go of it.

"I think Jimmy Rodgers would have to be one of the most impactful captains," Dow said, "especially on an enduring basis."

Don James and his 1984 captains Tim Meamber, Danny Green, Jimmy Rodgers and Dan Eernissee.

Undaunted by any football stage or college mystique, Rodgers turned in his greatest performance at Michigan's overly intimidating Big House, knocking down then quarterback and current Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh whenever and however he could. He made his teammates follow him to a 20-11 victory.

All season long, he kept the Huskies pointed toward an 11-1 season and a No. 2 national ranking that easily could have resulted in a national championship, and he still bemoans the game that got away, a 16-7 defeat at USC.

Rodgers next lobbied current UW athletic director Jennifer Cohen hard to induct his 1984 team into the Husky Hall of Fame.

He became a driving force behind UW officials, players and supporters to band together to erect a statue of Don James, his coach, outside of Husky Stadium.

"Jimmy was calling me, calling me, calling me, and said here it is," Dow recalled. "He really honcho-ed that."

While he's lived in places such as Europe and Africa, and worked as a stockbroker and as a real estate salesman, Rodgers currently resides near the Seattle waterfront, and acts as the city's unofficial mayor while always serving as a football ambassador. 

In his latest venture, he's championing a subscription podcast called "Downtown Dawgs" and been shooting video segments that he hopes to launch this fall featuring his former teammates and all sorts of university and citywide notables, having fun and keeping memories alive.

"To me that's just a continuation of Jimmy Rodgers," Dow said, "and that captaincy that he had and it continues to have."

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