Philadelphia Eagles News

Where Are They Now? LB Jody Schulz

Jody Schulz
Jody Schulz

Scouting was a little different when Jody Schulz came out of East Carolina University in 1983. Sure, there was the NFL Combine, but the linebacker came to the Eagles' attention because of a conversation between two old friends, Philadelphia's Head Coach Marion Campbell and ECU Assistant Coach Rickey Bustle.

"Yeah, that's the story I heard, which is kind of crazy when you think about it," Schulz says. "I mean, you look at it now, they know everything about every player. From their shoe size to color of their eyes and everything in between. That you had a college coach tell an NFL coach, 'Hey, by the way, you ought to look at this guy.' I was thrilled."

The Eagles selected Schulz, who had 105 tackles and 10 sacks during his senior season, in the second round of the 1983 NFL Draft.

"I went higher than what I ever thought," Schulz says. "I thought I'd be about a fourth-round pick, and so I was thrilled to say the least. I mean, not only was I going with the Eagles, it was two hours from home. I couldn't have asked for a better situation.

"I had very little discussion actually with Coach Campbell going into camp. We worked out a contract very quickly. They said, 'Here's what we'll pay you,' and I said, 'OK.' It was pretty easy. I was just excited to be there. Quite frankly, I'd have played for nothing."

Schulz may have been fortunate that he didn't say that out loud when his contract was being discussed. Especially after experiencing his first Eagles' Training Camp at West Chester University.

"It was hot. It was two-a-day (practices), six weeks. Full pads twice-a-day. It was almost like playing a game every day for six weeks," Schulz says.

The exhaustive practices under the sun took its toll on Schulz and other players. So much so that every evening, several of them took advantage of the team's offer to travel to nearby Paoli Hospital and receive IVs to replenish fluids.

"I was like, 'Oh, yeah. Anything I can do to try to put some weight back on," Schulz says. "They had a little room set up and put an IV in each arm. But we had to be back at a certain time, and when the nurses would put the IVs in, it was a drip, drip, drip.

"And the minute they'd leave the room, we'd adjust the flow and get the IV in us within a half hour. That gave us enough time to stop at the bar on the way back and have a couple of beers to help with the replenishment and still make curfew."

In Philadelphia's third preseason game at Green Bay, Schulz went from a rookie hustling not to break curfew to the starting lineup.

"Reggie Wilkes got hurt and it gave me the opportunity to step up. So as a rookie, starting in the NFL right out of the gate in my first year was pretty thrilling," Schulz says. "But it was a thrill to be in Green Bay, anyway. Lambeau Field, Vince Lombardi, and all that. Beautiful field. Grass. We loved the grass because we were playing on that nasty turf at the Vet.

"And I had a good game. John Madden was the announcer and said some very complimentary things about me. At that point, I was loving life and everything was falling into place."

The third-leading tackler after four games, Schulz suffered a knee injury and was sidelined the next six games. He then returned to action, playing mostly on special teams, but reinjured his knee and had to have season-ending surgery.

"You're hurt all the time, that's part of the deal," Schulz says. "But having an injury where it kept me from playing, that was the first time. I don't think in four years of college I even missed a practice for an injury. That was a big setback for me. I didn't really know how to handle it. The older guys were like, 'Hey, man, you've got to take care of yourself. You're going to have a long good career.' All I wanted to do was play.

"But I was in the NFL. That alone keeps your spirits high. I just was focused on getting back on the field. I felt like I had a great career ahead of me. I felt like I was a good player that really could have been a great player. I was being paid to play and that's what I wanted to do."

Missing the 1985 season while rehabilitating from another knee surgery, Schulz made a strong comeback in 1986. A key reserve, he finished second on the team with 22 special teams tackles and collected his only career interception, off of Denver's Gary Kubiak, while playing for Philadelphia's new Head Coach Buddy Ryan.

"Everybody was excited when he came in, but I didn't expect to actually be on Buddy's team that first year. I didn't really fit in his 46 defense," Schulz says. "I was a classic 3-4 outside linebacker, and his defense was anything but that. So I was expecting to get cut any day, honestly, between that and the knee injury and struggling to get back from that.

"I guess Buddy saw something in me – a toughness and what I'd been through and my determination and whatever. I was the kind of guy he liked to have around. And special teams seemed to be the niche I fit in. I settled into that role. I wasn't thrilled with it, because I wanted to be a linebacker and be on the field all the time. But that's kind of where I settled.

"We didn't have free agency at the time, so I didn't really have a lot of options to leave. So I stayed there and played my (butt) off, still fighting injuries and still rehabbing."

Receiving the Ed Block Courage Award from his teammates that year, Schulz played one more season. What are among the fondest memories from his Eagle days?

"Almost every day was a fond day," Schulz says. "Many people say that some of their fondest memories are in the locker room, the camaraderie we had back then. I'm not sure that the camaraderie with teammates and hanging out together is as prevalent now in the NFL as it was back then.

"And my rookie year, I remember our first home game (against Washington) when I ran on the field as a starting linebacker in the NFL with my parents there, that was pretty thrilling."

Following his playing days, Schulz returned home to Maryland's Chesapeake Bay and became involved in his family's restaurant businesses.

"The restaurants have been in my family since 1930. My grandfather started Fisherman's Inn, which was a business where they were buying and selling seafood. They had a packing house where they would shuck oysters and pick crabmeat, and they shipped it all over the East Coast," Schulz says.

"My parents, from their house, started selling crab cakes and sandwiches and dinners. And then it grew from there. Fast forward to where we are now, we've purchased adjoining properties and now have two restaurants – Fisherman's Inn and Fisherman's Crab Deck – and a high-end hotel we just opened this past year, Hyatt Place Kent Narrows & Marina. That's my family's businesses.

"And then separate from that, I own the Kent Narrows Boatel. It's an indoor marina, indoor high and dry storage facility. It's about two acres on the roof and we hold almost 400 boats in there. And the Dock House Restaurant is another business that I'm in partners with.

"I enjoy the challenge. You look to develop land, and it's a puzzle. There's a lot of components to it. And then just because you build a new business doesn't mean it's going to work. I think if you're a sports guy and you make it to any professional career, we all share the same attributes. You're focused, you're determined, you're dedicated, and you want to be successful. I think we all share the fear of losing. Whether it's a game or a business or whatever."

Making their home on a 123-acre farm in Chester, Maryland, Schulz and his wife, Sheri, have four adult sons – Dusty, a police officer in Centreville, Maryland; Kirby, a firefighter/EMT for the Anne Arundle County Fire Department; Kolby, a warehouse manager; and Dorsey, a project manager.

A successful businessman, husband, and dad, Schulz has also been a volunteer fireman for more than 45 years, and is the president of the Kent Island Volunteer Fire Department.