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November 14, 2007

Scott Perry '76 Profile: Williams - NFL - teaching 1st grade

Scott Perry is one of the best all-around athletes Williams has produced in recent years and yet he showed up unannounced. "I played halfback and DB at The Kent School (CT) and we went undefeated my last year, but nobody at Williams ever heard of me," said Perry.  

"Freshman football coach Renzie Lamb lined up the eight walk-ons and pointed to each one saying, offense, defense, offense … and that's how I ended up on defense."

Perry had considered attending the University of North Carolina on a Morehead Scholarship, or Wesleyan. Driving home from visiting Wesleyan with his dad Osgood Perry '53, Scott said, "I think I like Wesleyan and my dad looked over his glasses at me and gave me a look like – I don't think so." Welcome to Williams College.


 
Scott Perry '7

"I was never confident academically at Williams, but I was excited to be around so many smart kids and great teachers like Don Gifford and Whit Stoddard."

"When Renzie put me on defense, I had no idea I was about to meet the perfect coach for me -- Dick Farley." Farley had just joined the Williams staff after a brief NFL career with the Chargers as a DB, shortened by injury.

Perry and his teammates called Farley "Far-Far," because Farley was always, "so far out there in his football thinking and so, so grumpy," recalled Perry. "He was always telling us we could not beat a team because of whatever reason and it kind of put a little extra focus into our preparations."

Perry's senior year, NFL scouts came to campus and asked him to leave class and perform drills. "It always bothered me that scouts would just show up and expect that I would do whatever they asked," he said. "So I told them I'm not missing class. I didn't want to be a distraction to the team and then get hurt working out for the NFL."

Perry struggles to select a favorite Eph football memory, but does remember one play, but not the opponent: "I picked off a pass over the middle and started bringing it back with a cut to the right, when I got trapped. I lateraled the ball to Dave Libardi. Dave's eyes were as big as saucers, but he made a nice move and was off for the end zone. The Bengals scout thought that was a heady play." If pressed, Perry will also admit to getting a kick out of sipping champagne in the shower after beating Amherst 25-6 his senior year.

Perry was uncommonly quick and fast as two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin (Ohio State) found out early in the Bengals training camp. "One day Bengals owner Paul Brown and his cronies showed up to check out the thoroughbreds," Perry recalled. An assistant coach lined Perry and Griffin up for a 40-yard dash.

"Far-Far always told us not to leave our hamstrings at the start so I went out under control and accelerated through the end, winning by about 2-3 yards and Brown and his buddies were crackling with excitement," said Perry.

Archie's entourage was not happy and asked for a re-match. "I was pissed now, so I let it all out from the start and Archie was nowhere to be found," said Perry. "He was 5-6 yards back and I kind of felt sorry for him. I tried to apologize to Archie and I put my arm on his shoulder, but he just grunted and nodded. Archie became one of the few players I actually liked though."

"It's weird, but I never felt out of place in the NFL as far as speed and quickness.  Not that it was easy, but I could run with those guys."

Perry was one of 28 DBs invited to the Bengals camp in 1976. "I was lucky I had been trained by Farley to play the NFL way. That gave me a huge advantage."

When you play CB in the NFL you go against the fastest, most talented players – like Lynn Swann.  "One on one with Lynn Swann on Monday Night—'little Scott Perry from tiny Williams College,' was how Howard Cosell described it."

"Sometimes when you make a big play in a stadium with 60,000 people there is a moment of quiet before the crowd can react and when that happened I always thought of Far-Far and my dad and I knew they both would be proud of what I just did."

"I loved representing Williams College and letting people know I could play."

After four years with the Bengals, the team released Perry after he started speaking out about the evils of the monopoly run by the NFL owners. The Bills, 49ers, Chargers, and Packers all expressed interest, though.

"I tried out for the Chargers and Joe Gibbs in the parking lot of Jack Murphy Stadium and they wanted to sign me, but were afraid of my mouth and my attitude," Perry said.

The Chargers did sign Perry and in five games with San Diego he was awarded three game balls, but he could no longer play the role he was assigned. "It just wasn't fun anymore to be a violent sniper on defense and just lay guys out."

Farley walked up to me at football practice one day and said, "You're now a long jumper." I had never done track before, but that sounded cool."

In 1976 Perry set the Eph indoor long jump record with a leap of 24 feet, ¼ in. at MIT on a dirt approach. "I was going through the air thinking I was in the middle of a good jump when I noticed I was running out of sand, so I had to shut it down and I crashed partly in the pit and partly past it, bounced, and hit the wall," said Perry. "When I heard 24 feet, 1/4 inch I looked over and Farley was smiling. I'm a 53-year old man now, that record needs to be broken."

"Scott Perry is among the very best all-around athletes I've seen at Williams in my 35 years," said former Eph head football coach and current associate head coach of track & field Dick Farley. "He was a 4th round draft choice in the NFL and he would frequently score in, if not win, seven events in a track meet – 100, 200, 400, 4x100, 4x400, long and triple jumps."

"It took a long time to figure out what I wanted to do with my life after the NFL," Perry said.  "But I feel right now I'm as good a teacher of first graders as I was a football player and it's very important to me to have that sense of accomplishment."

Perry is in his 13th year of teaching first grade at Point Fermin Elementary in the Los Angeles Unified School District. He gave this interview while handing out Halloween candy to the neighborhood children and he could not have been happier.



 

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