All Georgia fans know of the many legendary plays made by Scott Woerner during his Georgia career and especially during the glorious 1980 season. Scott played the game the way most players wish they could play it and kids in pickup games imagine it, with daring, panache and an unshakable confidence in his ability to help his team win. It was an honor to play with Scott, but those of us who did have that honor recognize that he is so much more than the sum of his great plays.
Both on and off the field, Scott was the consummate teammate. His joy in playing the game was infectious and, much like Coach Erk Russell’s brilliant use of humor, contributed to helping many of us work and play a little harder in long, grueling, often brutally hot practices. The magic of 1980 was not just that we managed to find a way to win every game but that we had so much fun doing it. Scott was a big reason for that, and anyone who was a fan was able to share in the fun.
Scott Woerner is different from many outstanding players. Of course his play was spectacular. He was a fierce competitor. He racked up more individual honors than all but a very small number of players could achieve. His true greatness, however, as a teammate and as a man, is that he did all of these things with humility, with generosity, and with loyalty to his team and teammates. Scott treated everyone that he met with respect, from fellow superstars to the last guy on the roster, the trainers and managers, and the folks serving food in the dining hall or washing the uniforms. Scott liked everyone, and I have never met anyone who did not like Scott.
On Dec. 6 in New York, Scott will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, the 14th Georgia player to receive that honor. In the months since his selection to the Hall was announced in January, I have noticed that more people have asked me about or mentioned to me the 1980 season than in any other year in the last 36. I was curious as to why that was until I heard Scott make a speech and read several articles that he has recently written. In every case, rather than talk about himself or his great plays, his speeches and articles are filled with stories, often humorous, of his coaches, other players or some of his not-so-great plays. He prefers to talk about our team, and, once again, he has raised the profile of the team and rekindled the strong feeling for that team and that time. I believe that it is better to have been an average player on a great team than a great player on an average team.
Scott was a great player on the greatest Georgia team, but there is no doubt that the team meant more to him than any individual honor.
Many people say that a great player puts his teammates on his shoulders and carries the team to victory. I see it differently, especially when it comes to Scott. He climbed on the shoulders of his teammates to make the great plays that helped make us champions. With Scott on the field, everyone played a little bigger, a little faster, a little more focused. We were blessed with a lot of great leaders on the 1980 team, and Scott’s leadership came not so much from words as from his confidence in himself and the rest of us.
We would not have won that championship without the big plays made by many other players and the contributions of all players, but everyone knew Scott was special. Time after time, he stood on his teammates shoulders and did what he did best. Coach Russell often said, “we had a bunch of good players who played good together”, but it sure does help to have one or two like Scott.
After Scott left Georgia, he played football for as long as he could. First in the NFL and then in the USFL, Scott played until there was no longer a league for him to play in. He was a football player who just wanted to play. Once football was over, Scott and his wife Marianne have taught in the public school system. It is no surprise to anyone who knew him that Scott would make a career after football in a profession that allowed him to help people become better than they otherwise might be. His friendliness, sense of humor and generosity are still obvious. If you have a chance to meet him, please introduce yourself. You and he will be glad you did.
Scott’s induction is long overdue, but that just makes it sweeter. The best thing about this last, greatest football honor that Scott will receive in December is that we can all share in it. Scott will insist that we do. As many teammates as can will wriggle their way into the ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria for his induction ceremony. Whether you are present at the induction or not, every member of the Georgia family should take pride in this honor and enjoy the thrill. He represents the best of not just Georgia football but of our University and our state. His teammates love him. You should, too.