1988 FOOTBALL INDUCTEE
Hoover High School has produced many multi-sport athletes over the years and Rod Perry was one. He was quick on the basketball floor and on the track as well as an all-round performer on the football field. Rod decided to pursue football at the college level because it’s the game that he loved the most. When he was a junior, he intercepted nine passes en route to All-City and All-Northern California honors. During his senior year, he was set to be one of Fresno’s best, but things can change in an instant on the field. In a game against South Bakersfield, Rod returned an interception for a touchdown, returned a kickoff for a touchdown, and ran for a touchdown from the scrimmage line when he blew out his knee. It was a shock for the rising star and possibly the end of a promising football career. All of the ligaments and cartilage were gone in his knee and the doctor couldn’t promise that he’d play again. He still had his dreams and that never faded.
Who would believe that five months later Rod Perry won the 100-meter dash in the All-City track meet as he qualified for the State Championship in 1971. The next year, he enrolled at Fresno City College where he helped lead the Rams to a state championship in 1972. He was also named to the Junior College All-American team and had many big schools recruiting him. Rod chose the University of Colorado in Boulder where he was an All-Big 8 performer for the Buffaloes and had a stellar career there to make him a 4th round pick by the Los Angeles Rams in the 1975 NFL draft. Playing in the defensive backfield for the Rams really was a dream come true for Rod. He played eight years for the Rams and was a two-time Pro Bowler, intercepting twenty-eight passes and making it to the Super Bowl in 1980.
In one of the most memorable plays in the history of the Super Bowl, Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw threw a terrific pass, Rod Perry made a fantastic defensive play, and the Steelers wide receiver made an incredible reception that proved to be the game-winning play for the Steelers. Football fans talked about “The Play” all over the world. Bradshaw could not have thrown the pass any better, Perry could not have made a better defensive play, and Stallworth made a great catch and run. The image still shows up today on many television shows and it even made the cover of Sports Illustrated to show how close and precise the play was. Rod Perry spent two more years with the Rams and then finished his ten-year career in the NFL as a player with the Cleveland Browns. “I was thrilled to have played with so many great players and teammates during my career,” Rod stated, “Merlin Olsen, Jack Youngblood, Jack “Hacksaw” Reynolds, Fred Dryer, Nolan Cromwell, Lawrence McCutchen, and Jackie Slater and many others were all great friends and teammates.”
Rod also developed close relationships with NFL coaching luminaries such as Chuck Knox, Sam Rutigliano, Marty Shottenheimer, and Don Klosterman. Rod Perry began is post-NFL coaching career at Columbia College in New York, then came back to Fresno and coached at Fresno City College for a year, Fresno State for two, and then embarked on a nineteen year coaching career in the NFL with the Seattle Seahawks, the LA Rams, the Houston Oilers, the San Diego Chargers, and the Carolina Panthers. Born and raised in Fresno, he and his wife, Patrice, have two sons, Rodney, who was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies and now works for the NFL Network; Ryan, who plays football at the University of Hawaii; and a daughter, Miranda.