The 1977 Clemson football team is arguably the greatest college football dynasty of all time. The Tigers won their first 18 games, tying for two others and were crowned national champions during that startling run. Enduring a heart wrenching loss in the Championship Game against Alabama, Tiger fans still remember 39-0 as one of the most violent days ever at Memorial Stadium.
The “homer jordan net worth” is a football player who played for Clemson. He was the first African-American to play in an SEC Championship game.
BOGART, Georgia — Homer Jordan is surprised that anybody remembers him after all these years.
But then there’s Jordan, unassuming and humble to the point of discomfort when the conversation turns to his role in Clemson’s first-ever national championship four decades ago, and more specifically, his role in opening so many doors for those who came after him as the first Black starting quarterback to lead an FBS (then Division I-A) team to a unanimous national championship.
“I’m a laid-back person,” he says. “I don’t enjoy being in the spotlight, and growing up, I was quite bashful,” Jordan said. “But when I go back to Clemson games, and a lot of the fans search for you and repeat the same tales — stories that become better over time — you go by, and it’s, ‘Hey Homer!’
“You’re like, ‘Do they still recognize me, gray hair and all?’ But they do, and it’s a pleasant sensation.”
They’ll always remember Jordan, one of the iconic faces of Clemson’s 1981 national championship team. Jordan was bravely running the option, sprinting for key first downs and battling through dehydration difficulties to lead the Tigers to a 22-15 win against Nebraska in the Orange Bowl and a perfect 12-0 season nearly 40 years ago to the day (Jan. 1, 1982).
Jordan’s roommate and starting running back on the 1981 squad, Cliff Austin, stated, “I don’t know how many different ways to express it, but Homer was simply a winner.” “He was better in the game than he was in practice, no matter how well or thoroughly he practiced. You simply knew he’d come through for us precisely when we needed it the most.”
Jordan, who was named offensive MVP that scorching night in Miami, recalls celebrating with teammates on the field in the euphoric aftermath of the Orange Bowl victory, but not much else about the night. He was so dehydrated when he arrived at the locker room that he passed out and needed IV fluids.
Jordan, who began to feel weak at halftime, remarked, “The team was going to a huge celebration, and I’m locked in my hotel room with an IV.” “Because I was still undergoing treatment, I didn’t even travel the bus back to the hotel with the team.”
“I had to take a police vehicle back.”
But what a journey it was, and as Jordan thinks on that night, that triumph, and that season 40 years later, he has a greater understanding of what it all meant and how a quiet, skinny guy from Cedar Shoals High School in Athens, Georgia, helped to transcend college football.
Bill Smith, a starting defensive end in 1981 and a lifelong member of Clemson’s board of trustees, described him as “just a fantastic guy and a tremendous leader and the ideal representation of what that team was all about.” “We were brothers with a one aim in mind: to win football games, and we weren’t going to allow anything get in the way of that.” As a white colleague of Homer’s, I can’t imagine what it was like to be in his shoes back then. What I can tell you is that the tone was established by Homer’s serene confidence.
“He was dubbed “the silent assassin” by me. He didn’t say much, but on the field, he’d tear your heart out.”
Jordan was the team’s pulse in many respects, undeterred by the racial preconceptions of the time, when a Black quarterback was considered as a liability. Jordan’s steely determination shocked Jeff Davis, a college football Hall of Famer and All-America linebacker for the 1981 Tigers, back then and now.
“I’m sure the weight was heavy,” Davis remarked, “but it’s one of the things that characterized Homer.” “He lightened the load and made the difficult seem simple. That’s not to say he wasn’t battling with some of those issues, but great winners don’t reveal their pain since triumph is their ultimate goal. I don’t recall Homer ever putting the word ‘Black’ in front of the word quarterback. Because perfection is a worldwide term that cuts across all frontiers, he placed ‘great’ in front of quarterback.”
According to Austin, Jordan didn’t say much about race back then, but he wasn’t naive to the times.
“You tell Homer he can’t do something, and that lights an incredible fire in him,” Austin said.
Jordan was at Clemson for four years, and that fire raged inside him the whole time. His love for his alma institution continues to burn brightly to this day, as he attends games, fund-raising activities, and anything else that would bring him back on campus.
Jordan will be inducted into the Orange Bowl Hall of Fame this year. His only disappointment is that his favorite Tigers will not be playing in Miami when he gets honored.
The old Orange Bowl stadium has long since been dismantled, so it won’t be the same field he played on 40 years ago, but his mind will undoubtedly go back in time. Even for a guy whose humility is legendary, Jordan is far more conscious of his position in history now than he was while he was on the field.
“Being the first to accomplish that and how that assisted others gives me a feeling of satisfaction that I can share with my kids and grandson,” Jordan said. “I recall how exciting it was to see Doug Williams play in Grambling and subsequently in the NFL. One of my fondest moments was meeting (Williams), and I’ve kept that memory with me ever since.”
Although Minnesota’s Sandy Stephens was the first Black starting quarterback to lead a Division I-A team to a national championship, the 1960 title was shared with Ole Miss and the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA), one of the NCAA’s four recognized selectors.
Jordan was the first to achieve so in the southern hemisphere and on an undefeated team, opening the door for eight more Black starting quarterbacks to win national championships in the 1980s and 1990s.
Tony Rice led Notre Dame to the 1988 championship, while Jamelle Holieway led Oklahoma to the 1985 crown. Colorado and Georgia Tech shared the national championship in 1990, and both teams’ starting quarterbacks were African-Americans: Darian Hagan and Charles Johnson for the Buffs, and Shawn Jones for the Yellow Jackets.
In 1993, Charlie Ward earned the Heisman Trophy while guiding Florida State to a national championship. In 1994 and 1995, Nebraska’s Tommie Frazier led the Huskers to back-to-back national championships, while Tee Martin of Tennessee became the SEC’s first Black starting quarterback to lead a club to a national championship in 1998.
“Homer Jordan is a courageous pioneer and champion,” said Martin, who is currently on the coaching staff of the Baltimore Ravens. “Knowing about his life and career at Clemson pushed me to look into what we might do at quarterback if we were given a fair chance. He’s one of my heroes.”
During Clemson home games, Homer Jordan is still a frequent sight throughout Death Valley. ESPN’s Miller Mobley
Jordan was more concerned with his teammates than with the societal importance of what he was doing as he blazed that trail. That is still the case.
“I suppose I still think about the connections and ties that were created throughout that period,” Jordan added, “and yeah, there were some awful moments.” “The terrible ones, on the other hand, help you get to the excellent ones. To see the other side, you must go through some suffering. It’s all part of the process of maturation.”
Jordan, 61, currently resides in Hobart, Georgia, not far from Athens, where he grew up and is inducted into the city’s sporting Hall of Fame. Sanford Stadium, the home of the Georgia Bulldogs, is fewer than 15 miles from his home.
Jordan nods to the main road in his peaceful neighborhood as he stands on his front porch one autumn evening and jokes, “You like all the orange Tiger paws heading to my house?”
“Yep, still surrounded by all these Dawgs,” he sighs as his easy grin deepens.
And I’m surrounded by a never-ending flood of recollections. Even back in the early 1980s, when a Black youngster playing quarterback in the Division I-A levels in the deep south was unheard of in many places, he says that most of them are fond recollections.
“I believe I was more concerned than he was about what he would face, how alumni and other fans would react, and how it would all effect him,” said Danny Ford, Clemson’s head coach at the time and just 33 when the Tigers won the national championship in 1981.
“Willie Jordan was the only other Black quarterback at Clemson before I arrived, and he ended up switching to defensive back. I recall sitting Homer down and discussing it with him, and he treated it the same way he handled everything else. I was worried about what may go wrong for him there, but Homer never let anything go wrong.”
Jordan selected Clemson in part because the Tigers guaranteed him the opportunity to play quarterback. Georgia also recruited him as a quarterback, he added, but with a stipulation.
“If it doesn’t work out as quarterback, we’ll try you at defensive back,” the Georgia coaches said. Jordan related the story. “I had a good idea what it meant. ‘I assume you’re looking at me as a DB,’ I replied.”
Jordan also considered Tennessee since the Vols had previously shown their willingness to play Black quarterbacks with Condredge Holloway and Jimmy Streater. But Clemson, South Carolina, was a lot closer to Athens than Knoxville, Tennessee, and Jordan didn’t want to be much farther away from Deborah Arnold, his high school girlfriend.
He was nicknamed “Bird” by his Clemson teammates because he only ate chicken and was often “flying back home” in his navy blue Monte Carlo after games to visit Arnold, who would later become his wife after his first of four seasons in the CFL. During the 1987 NFL strike season, he also served as a substitute player with the Browns for a portion of the year.
Deborah died in 2016 after a lengthy fight with breast cancer. They had been married for 40 years. Jordan still lives in the home where she died, and her photo is one of the few in his den. It’s conspicuously placed in front of his couch on the coffee table.
Jordan’s voice softens as he speaks about the lady he still calls “my girl” after all these years.
“She fought cancer for ten years, starting on one side, moving to the other side, and then developing congestive heart failure,” he said. “She just continued fighting and fighting and fighting and fighting and fighting and fighting and fighting and fighting
Adrian (35) and Darius (25), their two kids, work in their automobile cleaning company with their father. Jordan used to coach football at his former high school, but he stopped doing it a few years ago.
Jordan said he shut down in ways he knew weren’t healthy in the years after his wife’s death. Various individuals, on the other hand, mourn in different ways.
During those trying times, he was again reminded of how unshakable the relationship he had formed with his teammates and coaches at Clemson.
“I essentially did nothing for two years. I mean, I worked, but I was a little out of it, and I was just trying to get myself together “Jordan found strength from the way his old colleagues rallied behind him, he added.
They were all there for him, and Davis, who is now Clemson’s associate athletic director of football player relations and created FreeWay Church, where Davis serves as senior pastor, was especially helpful through some of Jordan’s worst periods.
“Homer was never seen without Deb, and Deb was never seen without Homer. They were a single entity “Davis stated his opinion. “She was a source of inspiration for him in a variety of ways. ‘Homer, the memories Deb left you will last a lifetime, and although you won’t be able to see her physically, you’ll always be able to see and feel the influence she had on you and all those who love you so deeply,’ I told him.”
“Those comforting comments helped me start living again,” Jordan stated.
Jordan’s den still has a framed image of him throwing a pass in the Orange Bowl on the floor.
“I have to put it up, I have a lot of things to put up,” Jordan said. “I have all of my college belongings in boxes or in a closet, but I’m getting there.”
Jordan wore his national championship ring for a long period, but he misplaced the ring’s crown while teaching football and was unable to locate it.
Jordan, who was inducted into Clemson’s Hall of Fame in 1993, said, “I’m apprehensive about shipping it out someplace to be mended.”
“Getting it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. So, yes, I’m a bit apprehensive.”
Jordan’s coaches and teammates seldom saw him frightened throughout his playing days, particularly after a rocky first season as the Tigers’ starting quarterback in 1980. After playing some defensive back in the Clemson spring game earlier that year, he claimed the starting quarterback position during preseason camp and was the Tigers’ main quarterback for the following three seasons. He beat out Andy Headen, a 6-foot-5, 240-pound athlete who eventually moved to outside linebacker and spent six seasons with the New York Giants in the NFL.
Jordan and the rest of the squad had a difficult season in 1980. Jordan became used to the booing after the Tigers lost four of their final six games and ended 2-4 in ACC play.
He claimed the most overt instance of prejudice he encountered occurred at a supermarket during his sophomore season, when a white guy approached him and casually said that he didn’t think Clemson could win with a Black quarterback.
Jordan’s reaction was representative of how he conducted himself on the field, regardless of how hot or passionate the situation grew. He was unflappable in the face of adversity.
Jordan remembered, “I don’t even know if he was a Clemson supporter.” “I didn’t have to deal with a lot of stuff.” I was aware that it was there, that others were discussing it, and that I may have overheard part of what others claimed to have heard. But I didn’t mind when the person approached me and said that, partly because I knew my coaches and teammates were on my side.
“I believe I muttered something along the lines of, “I don’t face you, therefore you can’t stop me.” Every quarterback is booed. That’s simply a natural aspect of the job. Is it because I’m black that things are different for me? Most likely. I deserved to be booed on occasion. Those boos, however, quickly converted to applause.”
Coach Danny Ford of Clemson said that he is ready to give Homer Jordan an opportunity as quarterback, something that rival Georgia could not guarantee. Kathy Willens/Associated Press
Jordan and Ford had a particular bond, and Jordan owes his coach a debt of gratitude for “sticking with me no matter what everyone else on the outside may be saying.”
It’s a connection that’s lasted a long time. Jordan always looks for his former coach when he returns to Clemson.
“I know where he parks for games, and every time I see him, he gives me a hard time,” Jordan added, adding that it’s generally something ridiculous.
How insane is this?
“You can’t reproduce much of that,” Jordan replied with a smile. “But he is aware of my feelings for him. He never lost faith in me, and in fact, he probably believed in me more than I did at first. He treated me well. That is something I can say. He encouraged me to be myself… and then let me be myself.”
Jordan’s soothing demeanor, his tendency for delivering in crucial situations, and the way he evolved as a leader are all remembered by Ford, who now lives on his farm near Clemson in Pendleton.
Ford, of course, is still teasing Jordan about his shaky start to the 1981 season. Early in the season, Clemson fell down 3-0 against Wofford. Fans, already irritated by how the 1980 season ended, began to squirm on that September 5 day in Death Valley.
“The first play we called versus Wofford was a bootleg pass, and he came out and lost the ball, which bounced straight back up into his stomach,” Ford said. “‘Dang, Homer, this ain’t basketball,’ I exclaimed. You are not need to dribble the ball before throwing it.’”
The Tigers went on to win 45-10, and that one hiccup faded into the background. Jordan went on to lead the Atlantic Coast Conference in passing efficiency, win first-team All-ACC accolades, and, most significantly, lead his team to the school’s first national championship.
On their path to the title, the Tigers, who started the season unranked, won three games against top-10 teams, the sweetest of which was a 13-3 victory against No. 4 Georgia and Herschel Walker.
Jordan, who had to do a lot of checking off and making fast passes against the Dawgs, was responsible for the game’s lone score when he connected with Perry Tuttle on an 8-yard pass in the end zone. Jordan’s lone victory against the Dawgs as a starter came in a strong rivalry that was played every year at the time.
“Back then, you won with defense and kickoffs,” Smith said. “We didn’t throw it very much, but when we did, Homer could throw it flat-out. I’m still baffled as to how Georgia allowed him to leave Athens. It’s wonderful for us, however, that they did.”
After that victory against Georgia, the Tigers were off and rolling, and Jordan adapted to whatever role his team required him to play each week. The 10-8 win against No. 9 North Carolina at Chapel Hill during the first week of November was historic, since it was the first meeting between top-10 ACC teams in the league’s history.
Jordan recalled, “Defense won it for us that day, and it was the hardest-hitting game I’ve ever played in.”
Clemson won the ACC title a week later, beating Maryland and Boomer Esiason 21-7 at home, with Jordan completing three touchdown passes in the first half and 270 passing yards.
“In that game, I threw 29 passes. After that, they had to freeze my arm “Jordan, whose ability to efficiently run and throw made him a great match for the Tigers’ system, joked. “We were doing the choice and the veer at the same time. They now call it the spread, although we didn’t toss the ball very much. I think I threw it 10 or 12 times throughout certain games.”
Jordan was there when the Tigers needed him in every game, even if it was only for one critical third-down completion from the pocket or a keeper on the option to keep a drive going.
“He was better the tighter the situation got,” Austin remarked. “Homer wasn’t very swift, but he was quick. If he gets up on you, forget about tackling him. Allowing him to get by you and then attempting to run him down was your best option.”
At Memorial Stadium earlier this season, the 1981 Clemson national championship team was recognized. Since then, the Tigers have won two additional championships as a team. Mary Ann Chastain/Associated Press
When the Tigers were recruiting Jordan, Ford admired him as a football player, but he would be lying if he claimed he thought Jordan could be their starting quarterback.
Ford said, “We never guaranteed him he’d be our quarterback.” “We offered him a shot at our quarterback position, and Homer took care of the rest.”
During the recruitment process, Ford was certain that he was getting a youngster who understood the value of tenacity. Jordan’s father died of diabetic complications when he was 11 years old, and his mother worked two jobs to keep the family afloat.
“It hasn’t always been easy for Homer, from losing his wife to going through what he went through to become Clemson’s first Black quarterback, and remember, it was made much more difficult for him because we were coming off an ordinary season,” Ford added. “However, Homer never complained once. When he was playing, he never complained. After that, he never complained again.
“Other than his dribbling the football that one time, I can’t think of anything terrible to say about Homer Jordan.”
The 1981 Clemson squad reunited earlier this season over homecoming weekend versus Boston College for a reunion. Ford described the experience as “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with a once-in-a-lifetime crew.”
His thoughts kept returning to the vision of a weary Jordan sitting in front of his locker at the old Orange Bowl with an IV tube connected to him while he embraced teammates, welcomed their families, and relived that momentous season from 40 years earlier.
Jordan’s third-and-23 scramble had all but secured the game against Nebraska just a few minutes before.
Ford recalls, “He made two or three of their guys miss and barely made the first down, and we retained the ball.” “Everyone was yelling and leaping up and down after the game, and Homer was over there getting an IV because he’d passed out (spent). On the pitch, he left everything.”
And he has left a lasting legacy.
Deshaun Watson, Clemson football and the team’s historic championship 40 years ago. Reference: deshaun watson clemson.
Frequently Asked Questions
When did Clemson win the national championships?
A: Clemson won the national championships in 1981.
Who won the national championship in 1981?
A: The University of Washington Huskies won the national championship in 1981.
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