During Michael Zordich’s five seasons with the Eagles from 1994-98, Philadelphia beat Washington seven times. As the Honorary Alumni Captain presented by Santander on Monday night, he’s looking for an eighth win over the division-rival Redskins.
“Any NFC opponent would be great, but the Redskins is a really good one to be the captain for,” Zordich said with a laugh. “I am extremely honored. When I got the call, I was surprised, got to be honest. But I’m very happy and again, just honored to be a part of that.”
Following two seasons with the New York Jets and five with the then-Phoenix Cardinals, Zordich joined the Eagles as an unrestricted free agent thanks indirectly to Philadelphia’s former coach Buddy Ryan.
“When he got to Arizona (as the new Cardinals head coach in 1994), for whatever reason he didn’t like me,” Zordich says. “And when it came to contract time, he basically told me to hit the road. So, I came to Philly and I worked out with (defensive coordinator Bud) Carson and the staff. John Booty was there. Lonnie Young was there. The three of us worked out, and Johnny and I were able to hook up with the Eagles.”
After starting at free safety for the majority of three seasons with the Cardinals, the Eagles moved him to strong safety, his more natural position, and he led the team with 130 tackles and posted a career-high four interceptions in 1994.
Two seasons later, he snared four interceptions again as part of a standout secondary with Brian Dawkins, Troy Vincent, and Bobby Taylor. Why were they able to click so well together?
“We just all really liked each other, number one,” Zordich says. “A really good group of people and obviously some very talented guys. We all were there for the same purpose, same reason. It was a really good group. I really enjoyed that.”
He really enjoyed Eagles fans, as well.
“They’re nuts,” he laughed. “They are the greatest. I love them, I really do. They stand behind their team and they also criticize their team. They’re very honest fans.”
Hanging up his shoulder pads following the 1998 season, his 12th in the league, Zordich retired with 20 career interceptions, 12 as an Eagle. He soon after that became a coach.
“Well, I never did want to get into coaching,” Zordich laughed. “I’d always been told I am going to be a good coach. I went home (to Youngstown, Ohio), my kids were knee-high and, all of a sudden, I’m coaching at Cardinal Mooney High School. My uncle was the head coach there for years, and he saw me at a family function and says, ‘Hey, come for a day and talk to the kids.’ I never left.”
After moving across town to coach safeties at Youngstown State, Zordich returned to the Eagles as a defensive quality control coach in 2009 and coached the safeties during the 2010 and ‘11 campaigns. Two more years at Youngstown State followed that. He’s now in his fourth season as a secondary/special teams coach at the University of Michigan.
“It’s a great school. Academically, you can’t beat it,” Zordich says. “When you’re recruiting, you feel really, really good talking about the school because it’s so good. And then, certainly, the football tradition carries itself. It reminds me a lot of Penn State, my alma mater. The campus, students, everything about it.”
What is Zordich’s ultimate goal as a coach?
“I’d certainly like to be a coordinator. And then I’d like to be a head coach and win championships at the college level,” he said. “People always ask, ‘Would you go back to the NFL?’ And the answer unequivocally is yes if that opportunity arose. But I do enjoy college 100 percent.
“They’re two different animals. They’re just very separate, very different, and I’ve enjoyed them both. Opportunities arise either way; I’d weigh them and make a decision. But I’d do both, for sure.”
Zordich and his wife, Cynthia, the founder of The Thread: Connecting Women of the NFL, have three adult children: Michael, Alex, and Aidan.