Kinney lettered at Nebraska in 1969, '70, and '71 and was the starting
halfback on the National Championship teams in 1970 and '71. Jeff
went on to play four years with the Kansas City Chiefs and one year
with the Buffalo Bills. This interview with Jeff was done by David
Max on July 2nd, 2004. This series of interviews is being done
in conjuction with the Bob Terrio
Classic on July 15-18.
DM Where are you from originally?
originally from Oxford, Nebraska and I grew up in McCook.
Who recruited you to Nebraska?
Osborne did. He made trips to McCook and Bob Devaney came out on signing
day. At that time Coach Devaney was a really popular guy. He was almost
like the President of the United States whenever he would come out
to McCook. I was a Nebraska fan long before I ever became a player.
It was kind of special to go to Nebraska.
Were there any other schools that were recruiting you?
I could have gone just about anywhere to school on scholarship. I
only went on one other visit to Kansas State because I was playing
basketball and we played on Friday and Saturday nights. It was pretty
tough to get away. I talked to schools like Texas and UCLA but I just
never wanted to go anywhere else. I took the K-State trip because
there was a good recruiter there named Dean Pryor and K-State was
up and coming. I was considering becoming a veterinarian and McCook
was right on the Kansas border and K-State had a good veterinary school.
Who was your position
coach and what was he like?
It was Mike Corgan.
Iron Mike Corgan.
How did he get
I'm not sure how
he got it but I know why he got the nickname. (Laughs) He was a tough,
Is there a particular regular season game that sticks out in your
were several games that were pretty important for us. The Colorado
game in Lincoln. They were highly ranked and of course the one everyone
talks about was the Oklahoma game in Norman.
You wore tear away jerseys for that game. Did that really give you
it didn't. It was torn away in the first few plays and it didn't really
make a difference.
What was Jerry Tagge like as a quarterback?
was very business like and always adapted well to whatever the situation
was. We had a lot of seniors on that ('71) team and we all knew what
we had to do and we did it.
Van was a great
athlete. He had a little different style than Jerry but he was also
a team leader.
Do you have any
"in the huddle" stories?
Probably the one
that I remember the most is the last drive against Oklahoma in the
'71 game. When the drive started Jerry said "You know what we
need to do. Let's go out and do it." And we did.
You scored the winning touchdown on that drive. What was that like?
It wasn't any different than any other drive. I knew there was still
time on the clock and I was concerned about the outcome of the game.
What was it like after the game?
It was a great experience standing out there in the middle of the
field with my teammates and running into my dad. He took what was
left of the tear away jersey. We knew that we had done something special.
Do you have a favorite Bob Devaney story?
I do but none that I can share. (Laughs) Bob was a very special person
and he never lost his cool. He took care of his players. We were like
family. I do remember one incident where a few of us were doing some
of the things that college kids do and it got back to Coach Devaney.
The next day he came into the huddle in practice and asked to talk
with me and a couple of my teammates. He said that he got this phone
call about our activities and asked us to behave ourselves until after
the season was over. He didn't have to ask twice. Everything was handled
internally and all of the players had the utmost respect for Bob.
Whenever he said something people listened.
Do you have a favorite Tom Osborne story?
took me on a couple of fishing trips when he was recruiting me. We
didn't have much luck catching any fish and I told him as a joke "Why
should I come to Nebraska if you can't catch any fish?" He had
a comeback but I can't remember what it was.
What were the practices like in preparation for the
We usually went down a week before the game. We would
get a quick break after finals and then come back to Lincoln for a
week before going down to the bowl site. The preparations were very
similar. It did make for a long season. My senior year we probably
had 12 or 13 games. They did take it pretty easy on us. We were a
mature team and we weren't going to change what we were doing. There
was a little bit of intensity when we played Alabama because we knew
how important that game was to Coach Devaney. It was a game that we
really wanted to go out and win because he was special and we knew
that game meant a lot to him.
What was your best Bowl Game memory?
There weren't any real favorites because they all had something special
and there was something unique about each one of them. When I was
a sophomore we played Georgia and just killed them. Our experience
there was that we knew we were a lot better football team and belonged
in a better bowl and so did they. The next year we went undefeated
and played LSU and beat them in the Orange Bowl in a good game. We
were a National Championship team at that point. Obviously, the next
year we started off Number 1 and held that all year long. We pretty
much annihilated Alabama in the Orange Bowl game. I remember Bear
Bryant making the statement that we might have been the greatest team
he had ever seen or something like that.
DM You were a first round draft pick by the Kansas
City Chiefs in 1972. Do you remember your first year salary and signing
I do. (Laughs) The signing bonus was $40,000 and my first year salary
was $22,500 and I got a $1,000 a year raise every year. I was making
more than some of the veterans and when they found out they hired
my attorney as their agent.
How was the transition from Nebraska to playing for the Chiefs?
wasn't that different. I knew I could play and wanted to play but
Coach Stram didn't play rookies. I played a lot during pre-season
but when the season started I was behind Ed Podolak and Jim Otis.
Do you still stay in touch with teammates that you played with?
do attend some charity events and I'm involved with the Bobby Hohn
ALS Golf Tournament that was just played last weekend and see a lot
of former teammates at these events.
What are you doing now?
I finished playing pro football I worked for an Insurance firm in
Lincoln and formed a partnership where we put together a consulting
firm specializing in employee benefits. I sold my shares to my partners
to go into coaching for a couple of years at the University of Northern
Illinois in DeKalb with Jerry Pettibone. Currently I'm working for
a firm where I sell income investments to banks, insurance companies,
and money managers. I've been doing that since 1986. I did that for
a while in Chicago and moved to Kansas City to be closer to my parents
and my family.
If you had the opportunity to address this year's team before their
first game what would you say to them?
First of all I would say what a great opportunity it is to go out
and play for the fans and experience the tradition that Nebraska has
had here for a long time. No other school has what Nebraska has. No
other school has done what Nebraska has done. Go out there and just
enjoy and play as hard as you can. Don't leave anything on the field
and the fans will respect and respond to that.
Jeff, thanks for sharing your Husker memories with us.