Jim Zorn never just takes it easy.
While one of his NFL coaching compatriots was drawing plays in the sand on his summer vacation, Zorn was racing downhill on a mountain bike in British Columbia.
While another was sipping wine on Nantucket, Zorn, the first-year coach of the Washington Redskins, was running furiously up a vertical slope near the family house outside of Seattle.
Most NFL coaches just relax during their few weeks of downtime in the offseason. They put in notoriously long hours during the season and work under intense pressure. They’ve earned the chance to simply do nothing.
But Zorn can’t just kick back. That’s not him. He doesn’t do sedentary - and that goes for the people around him, too.
Zorn and his family bike and kayak around the island in Puget Sound they call home. He and his wife each year make the arduous hike to Camp Muir, 10,500 feet up on Mount Rainier.
At 55, Zorn is eligible for AARP membership, but he won’t be heading off to a quiet life of golf and retirement at Leisure World any decade soon. And when he finally does, you can bet he’ll get there the hard way.
“Jim will bike off a rock ledge with a 3-foot drop,” says Jim Trezise, Zorn’s close friend and former kayaking partner. “Normal people would just walk their bikes around something like that, but Jim goes airborne. He likes living on the edge.”
Zorn’s family - wife Joy, daughters Rachael, Sarah and Danielle, and son Isaac - embraces his deep desire for physical activity and for the testing of limits. But like Trezise, they knew that Zorn was more different than he understood.
A passion for action
Zorn starred at quarterback at little Cal Poly Pomona, where he also threw the javelin, played badminton and became a champion speedskater. He skateboarded whenever he could.
Zorn took his passion for action to greater heights - literally - as the quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks in the National Football League. Zorn and his best buddy, Hall of Fame receiver Steve Largent, climbed Mount Rainier - and tossed around a football on the summit.
Zorn ardently took up mountain biking and, later, kayaking - he toyed with the idea of competing in the Olympics - snowboarding, rollerblading and dirt biking.
Zorn is sitting in his office at Redskin Park, a world-class racing bike resting against the wall and a framed photo of him on a kayaking trip sitting nearby.
“Mike Holmgren thought my doing all these sports was wacky,” Zorn says of the Seahawks’ coach, “but I’m interested in trying all these things if I can do them safely and with somebody that’s experienced. Just because I don’t know how to do it doesn’t keep me from at least trying. In my mind, it’s very normal stuff.