Gold Jacket Spotlight: Position change led Jimbo Covert to Gold Jacket
The results of Jimbo’s efforts secured his enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a member of the Centennial Class of 2020 and into this edition of the Gold Jacket Spotlight.
Jimbo’s family exemplified the Western Pennsylvania ethos, as his grandfather and father labored in the steel mills, and his mother worked in the retail sector.
“I always said I never had far to look for role models because they were right down the hall,” Jimbo said during his Enshrinement speech. “And I remember once he (Jimbo’s father) took me to the hot mill in July when I was, like, 10 years old and said, ‘Son, you never want to come in here.’
“And one week a month, when he worked night turn, he'd come home early in the morning, change, and then go back out in a Sears & Roebuck moving truck for another eight hours delivering appliances. And as a kid, that makes quite an impression on you.”
Not surprisingly, while at the University of Pittsburgh, a desire to earn a starting position motivated Jimbo to move across the line of scrimmage from playing defensive line to offensive line.
“I didn’t want to move at all at first and was kind of hesitant about it. I just felt like I was a more impactful defensive player, and that’s what I wanted to play. But it was my opportunity to start immediately, and that’s what I wanted to do,” Jimbo affirmed in a profile written by Larry Mayer.
Jimbo made an early impression on his college offensive line coach, Joe Moore, at his first practice as an offensive lineman when Moore informed him, “You’re going to be an All-American someday.”
Moore’s prediction proved accurate; Jimbo twice earned All-American status.
His offensive linemates at Pittsburgh included future Pro Football Hall of Famer RUSS GRIMM, Mark May and Bill Fralic. That impressive offensive line protected DAN MARINO, who has mentioned on more than one occasion there were games his uniform never got dirty as no defender was able to reach him as a result of his offensive line’s efforts.
The Chicago Bears selected Jimbo with their first pick in the opening round (sixth overall) of the 1983 NFL Draft. He was among seven future Pro Football Hall of Famers taken in the first round that year and one of seven Bears selected who would become starters on the franchise’s 1985 championship team.
Speaking at Jimbo’s Hall of Fame ring ceremony at Soldier Field, Chicago Bears teammate Tom Thayer declared, “When you’re drafted in the first round, you’re brought here to change the culture and lead the team to a Super Bowl. Jimbo Covert did both.”
A culture changer, Jimbo employed those early life lessons he learned in the steel valley of Pennsylvania while playing. He told the Chicago Bear Report in 1989, “I just go out every Sunday and play as hard as I can. If I had to describe myself, I’d just say I was a guy who went out and tried as hard as he could every day and did what he had to do to get the job done. I just would like people to respect me as a good football player, as a guy who went out and did the best job he could.”
Like his role models in Conway.
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