Jason Sehorn began his life as a long shot.
He was raised in northern California by a single mom who didn’t earn enough to make ends meet.
In fact, many of the essentials needed for their survival were obtained with food stamps.
However, as the saying goes, sometimes long shots pay off the biggest.
Blessed with natural athleticism, Sehorn parlayed one season of high school football into a college career at USC.
— DoubleG (@nycmadman) October 16, 2014
Then, in 1994 he became a second-round pick of the New York Giants and embarked on a 10-year career as one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL.
By the time he retired, Sehorn was married to a Hollywood actress and ready to begin a second career as a member of the media.
This is the story of Jason Sehorn.
Jason Heath Sehorn was born on April 15, 1971, in Sacramento, California.
— The Giant Take Podcast (@TheGiantTakePod) August 11, 2022
Not long after he was born, Sehorn’s father, Mike Sehorn, left the picture and it was just Jason and Nancy.
Nancy remarried to a man named Mack Alexander and they had a son named Colby.
Not even a year later, Nancy divorced Alexander.
“My mom never dated after that,” said Sehorn in 2000. “She didn’t want different men coming to the house. Her theory was, she didn’t want her boys exposed to any bad influences. She sent Colby and me to a private Christian school, although she couldn’t afford to. The respect I have for my mother is incredible. She got me here, she did it with faith and values and determination and sacrifice, and she did it alone.”
As a single mother trying to raise two boys, Nancy found work by opening her own hair salon.
She made just enough to pay most bills.
Everything else, such as food, was obtained through other means.
“When I say dirt-poor, I mean Mom made maybe $25,000 a year,” Sehorn explained in 2017. “I remember buying milk with food stamps. Vividly. So, growing up, I was the minority. I was the outcast.”
Poor Grades Nearly Doom Sehorn’s Athletic Future
When he entered high school at Capital Christian School in Sacramento, Sehorn enjoyed playing basketball but was booted off the team as a freshman due to bad grades.
The school’s basketball coach, David Gray, talked to school administrators and worked out a deal.
If Jason got his grades up, he would be able to rejoin the team.
After a few weeks, Sehorn raised his GPA to 2.0 and regained eligibility.
He then suited up for the Cougars and played well through the end of the season to bring home the team’s Most Improved Player award.
Then, to Sehorn’s dismay, Nancy moved the family to Mt. Shasta in northern California.
In an attempt to get his mom to move back to Sacramento, Sehorn purposefully tanked his grades.
“He didn’t like the fact that I moved him up to Mt. Shasta (in 10th grade),” said Nancy. “He thought if he didn’t do well in school, Mom would move him back to school in Sacramento.”
The ploy backfired and the family stayed put.
His mom’s decision to stay meant Sehorn had no choice but to raise his grades so he could play for the Mt. Shasta High School hoops team.
“I realized I wanted to play sports, so I went to school,” he said. “Athletics kept me in school; school didn’t keep me in athletics.”
His skills on the court rapidly developed and he became one of the best players for the Bears.
Sehorn also spent time with the Bears track team and was content just playing both sports.
However, before his senior year, a new coach took over the Mt. Shasta football team.
The Bears were loaded at running back, and Coach Joe Blevins wanted a receiver to round out his offense.
He heard about Sehorn’s speed and hops on the court and approached him about playing football.
When Blevins told Sehorn he would play receiver and make highlight reel plays in front of the locals, Sehorn was ready to roll.
“Jase was excited about playing wide receiver, and I like to throw the ball a little,” said Blevins. “That was the bait on the hook.”
Although he hadn’t really played the sport before, Sehorn was a quick study, as evidenced by a play he made in just his second game.
“We’ve got a two-point conversion to win the game, and we go for it,” Sehorn said. “The quarterback is scrambling and he just throws it up, and I remember going up and catching it and falling backward and putting the ball over the goal line. That’s when football started to click.”
As the season progressed, Sehorn continued to get better and Blevins couldn’t believe his good fortune.
“He wowed me as a coach,” said Blevins. “He just picked it up. He was a sponge. Some guys are phenomenal with computers. This guy was just as phenomenal an athlete.”
When Sehorn’s one and only prep football season concluded, he was named the Shasta Cascade League’s MVP.
He then reported to the basketball team and averaged a smooth 35 points per game for the Bears.
Community College and Pro Baseball
With high school graduation behind him, Sehorn got a summer job clearing rocks from a garden.
Before he started his job, some friends talked him into going out for an American Legion baseball team and playing centerfield.
Sehorn agreed, although he hadn’t played baseball since Little League.
Displaying the same athleticism he did on the gridiron and basketball court, Sehorn was a natural for the position.
As fate would have it, a scout saw one of Sehorn’s games and signed him to a minor league contract with the Chicago Cubs organization.
Happy Birthday to Jason Sehorn. Did you know that the Chicago Cubs signed him out of High School?
— Bacon Sports (@BaconSports) April 15, 2013
After his first season in the minors with the Huntington, West Virginia, Cubs, Sehorn was at home when Shasta Community College football coach Sonny Stupeck called.
During high school, Sehorn had slept a number of times at the Stupeck home and the coach believed Sehorn was wasting his many talents.
He told Sehorn about the benefits of playing sports at the community college level and convinced his former house guest to enroll at Shasta.
Sehorn Shines for the Knights
Sehorn played another summer with the Huntington Cubs and then reported for fall practice at Shasta in 1990.
Stupeck’s belief that Sehorn would shine for the Knights was quickly confirmed.
Playing receiver, safety and kick returner, Sehorn was selected as a two-time first-team JuCo Grid-Wire All-American, two-time All-Golden Valley Conference and Golden Valley Conference MVP and CCCFCA All-State in 1990.
He also set 17 records in two years.
They included most touchdowns scored in a season (17), career touchdowns (34), all-purpose yards in a single game (253), points scored during a single season (106) and career points (210).
During a contest against Solano Community College, Sehorn exploded for 506 all-purpose yards, setting a national community college record that stood for a decade.
His 4,308 career all-purpose yards rank second in community college history.
It wasn’t long before the Cubs got wind of Sehorn’s accomplishments on the gridiron and released him.
That just meant that Sehorn could join the Knights basketball and track teams as well.
In the 1990-1991 basketball season, he averaged 12 points and six rebounds per game for Shasta.
Sehorn then went out for the track team in the spring of 1991 and triple-jumped 48’1” to set a school record.
He also won four other track events to help the Knights to a Golden Valley Conference championship.
Sehorn Becomes a Trojan
There was no denying that Sehorn was a phenomenal athlete who could play any sport well.
His weekly highlight reels were seen by the coaching staff at USC and head coach Larry Smith offered a scholarship to Sehorn in 1992.
When he reported for his first practice, Sehorn learned that he had an uphill climb to crack the starting lineup as a receiver for the Trojans.
In ‘92, the team had senior Curtis Conway and junior Johnnie Morton, two future pros.
As great as he was at Shasta, Sehorn was not going to dethrone Conway or Morton anytime soon.
Jason Sehorn at USC. Interesting facemask for a DB. pic.twitter.com/5aS2cDgB9v
— NFL Fashion Advice (@fashion_nfl) April 10, 2022
Instead of wasting away on the bench, the coaching staff asked Sehorn to play defensive back.
“I didn’t feel like playing DB. I wanted to score,” said Sehorn. “I had a short amount of time, and I needed to be on the football field,” he continued. “I didn’t want to be on the sidelines watching everybody else play, so I said, ‘No-brainer. I’ll go play safety.'”
Playing in 11 games for the 6-5-1 Trojans, Sehorn adapted quickly to the secondary and made 80 tackles, recovered two fumbles, and co-led the defense with three interceptions.
“Defense is the hardest thing in the world,” he said in 1993. “If you drop the ball as a receiver, you still have two more plays. When a defensive back makes a mistake, that’s seven points on the board. The worst part is I have to run backward as fast as my opponent is running forward—and he knows where he’s going.”
Before the 1993 season, Smith was fired and former USC coach John Robinson arrived for his second stint with the program.
The new coaching staff took a look at Sehorn and wondered if he was still a good fit in the secondary.
Defensive back coach Dennis Thurman was convinced Sehorn was perfect as a defender when he saw him playing hoops.
According to Thurman, he was sold on Sehorn when he “…walked past the gym one afternoon and saw Jason playing basketball with [future Pro Bowl linebacker] Willie McGinest—backpedaling, sprinting, jumping, rebounding. …”
Sehorn remained in the Trojans secondary in 1993 and also returned punts.
USC legend Jason Sehorn! pic.twitter.com/6WpPtdKjVS
— BrokenHearted (@patientfailure) October 13, 2022
During the team’s 8-5 season, Sehorn snagged six interceptions and returned 30 punts for 225 yards.
Sehorn Overcomes a Stereotype and is Drafted by New York
In the spring of 1994, NFL teams talked to Thurman about Sehorn’s ability to play defensive back.
Several franchises liked Sehorn’s skill set and his speed, but they viewed him as a safety in the pros and not a cornerback.
What went unsaid by the scouts was the fact that Sehorn is white, and the majority of cornerbacks in the NFL, by far, are black.
Fully understanding what was being asked by talent evaluators, Thurman shared where he thought Sehorn should play at the next level.
“The only resistance we felt [at USC],” said Thurman, “came from scouts and personnel people when they first came in to evaluate Jason. They asked, ‘Is he a safety?’ I said, ‘No.’ They were like, ‘What?’ Jason went out there and proved them wrong.”
With the 59th overall selection in the second round of the 1994 NFL Draft, the New York Giants picked Sehorn.
Jason Sehorn (Giants, 1994-2002) pic.twitter.com/8sCoUTNPPj
— Random NYC Athletes (@ny_athletes) April 2, 2023
He reported to the Giants and learned of their intentions to move him to safety.
Upset with the idea, Sehorn called Thurman for counsel.
“He told me, ‘You’ve got to fight to play corner,’” Sehorn remembered, “‘they’re not gonna move you back just because you want to.’”
Emboldened, Sehorn demanded that he play corner and the Giants backed down.
In order to be taken seriously, Sehorn wore long shelves to cover his arms.
“I wore sleeves for a reason,” Sehorn said in 2017. “Rarely will you find a photo of me in the NFL without long sleeves. I just didn’t want it to matter. To me, this whole [white cornerback] thing was never a race issue. I’ve always seen it as a cultural issue and a confidence issue. I wore sleeves [in the NFL] because I just wanted to be a cornerback. I didn’t want to be a white cornerback.”
Sehorn Becomes a Starter
Sehorn’s first two years in New York were spent as a backup and he had a combined seven tackles and one forced fumble.
Then, in 1996, he was named a starter at right cornerback.
One of his first coverage assignments came against All-Pro Dallas Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin and the receiver looked at Sehorn incredulously.
“I don’t know if he had honestly never seen me or what,” Sehorn laughed, “but he said, ‘Dang, you are white!’”
During the ‘96 season, Sehorn seemed to come out of nowhere.
While the Giants went 6-10 in coach Dan Reeves’ fourth year, Sehorn had career-highs in tackles (97), sacks (3), and forced fumbles (5, which co-led the NFL).
He also had five interceptions for 61 return yards and a touchdown.
— 𝕝𝕠𝕔𝕜🏁 (@vvlockdown) November 4, 2020
In 1997, Reeves was fired and Jim Fassel led the G-Men to a 10-5-1 record and a loss to Minnesota in the Wild Card round.
Sehorn started all 16 games and had a career-high six interceptions and a pick-six, 86 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles.
His play that season only endeared Sehorn to his coaches.
“Jason was shutting people down,” said Johnnie Lynn, the Giants’ defensive backs coach. “He had such confidence that year. He was competitive on every down, and he never wanted to leave the field. He was what you dream about for all your corners: the big size, the big arms, the ability to run and to hit. You knew, as his reputation grew, he’d become a Pro Bowl player year after year.”
Sehorn Shreds his Knee
During training camp in 1998, Sehorn asked Fassel if he could return kicks.
He had been a returner at Shasta and USC and Sehorn believed his speed could help New York.
Fassel gave him an opportunity in the team’s third preseason game against the New York Jets.
On the game’s opening kick, Sehorn settled underneath the ball and fielded it on a bounce.
Then, he made his way upfield before being pulled down by a pair of Jets defenders.
As he was tackled, Sehorn’s right knee buckled.
He got up and ran off the field, but his knee felt weird and he had it examined by the team doctor.
Is Jason Sehorn the only player in NFL history to, while being carted off with a knee injury, ride shotgun? pic.twitter.com/cPVwDgxGpl
— Kevin Clark (@bykevinclark) August 20, 2014
Sehorn was stunned when the doctor told him he had torn his ACL and MCL.
Initially worried that he wouldn’t be the same player again, Sehorn was ready to undergo surgery and rehab immediately.
“And then he said, ‘You know, it’s not a big deal.’ That wasn’t just a show. He knew it would take a year, and he was ready to start that day,” said Sehorn’s then-wife, Whitney Casey.
While the Giants went 8-8 that season, Sehorn had to watch from the sidelines.
As he was rebuilding his knee, Sehorn and Casey divorced after less than a year of marriage.
Then, after the 1998 season ended, Sehorn retreated to Southern California and continued his rehab.
He stayed in Cali as the Giants were beginning their off-season conditioning program and his lack of presence grated Sehorn’s teammates.
It wasn’t only because Sehorn was training away from the team, but he had kept up media appearances as one of New York’s most popular players and participated in ABC’s Superstars competition (an event he won three years in a row).
“When people are with me and we’re going around town, and people are looking at us, they say, ‘Doesn’t that get tiring?’ No!,” Sehorn said in 1999 [referring to his fame]. “Because at one point in time, this won’t happen. I know that that’s very ephemeral; it leaves.”
Eventually, the ire from his teammates got back to him and Sehorn responded.
“It does build team chemistry when you have all 53 players here,” said Sehorn. “But I wasn’t normal this year. It wasn’t a normal situation for me. If they were my friends at the time, they would’ve understood what I was going through and they wouldn’t have popped off.”
Giants defensive end Michael Strahan then shared his thoughts on the matter.
“Jason’s Jason. That’s the best way I can describe it,” Strahan said. “He does his own thing. I don’t think he’s too concerned about anything outside of himself.”
Sehorn Returns to Action
Sehorn missed the first two games of the 1999 season while finishing his rehab then started the next 10.
He made 45 tackles and had one interception, but he didn’t feel the same as he did in 1997.
It didn’t help when he missed the last four games of the regular season due to a fractured fibula.
“I played like a stray dog last year,” said Sehorn in 2000. “I had less security, and I wasn’t comfortable back there. I believed I could do the job, but the body and the mind didn’t come together.”
New York posted a 7-9 record in 1999 then shocked the NFL world when they went 12-4 in 2000.
Jason Sehorn pic.twitter.com/FPx8NVcF5K
— jimmy mckenna (@unorginalhandle) July 14, 2022
The Giants’ defense was ranked fifth in the NFL and Sehorn had a solid year with 73 tackles, one forced fumble, two interceptions, and 17 passes defended.
“I’ve always said, when he is healthy, he is the best corner in the NFL,” Giants strong safety Sam Garnes said. “I wouldn’t want to play behind anyone else. He is the real deal.”
Opposing coaches also had praise for Sehorn’s return after a serious injury.
“He’s one of the best athletes at corner you’ll ever see,” said Baltimore Ravens coach Brian Billick. “It sounds like he’s very intent this year, very focused on his profession, which sometimes happens when you have an injury and you realize all this can disappear. As an opponent you have to be careful if you really want to go at his side.”
Sehorn’s Big Plays Help New York Reach a Super Bowl
In the final week of the 2000 season, the Giants were playing a home game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
A win would give New York the top seed in the NFC East and a first-round playoff bye.
Late in the fourth quarter, the Giants were hanging on to a 21-10 lead.
The Jags then scored a touchdown and added a two-point conversion to put the score at 21-18.
Since there were only two minutes left in the contest, Jacksonville lined up for an onside kick.
With most of the Jags lined up on the left side of the field, kicker Mike Hollis booted the ball toward his teammates.
Sehorn was stationed just behind the Giants’ front line when the ball bounced high and in his direction.
Most players in that position would just grab the ball and fall on it.
He fielded the ball and then proceeded to run to the end zone untouched for an eventual 28-25 victory.
Ending the week with one of the shortest kickoff return TDs in NFL history. Jason Sehorn's #NYGiants career took a turn after tearing his ACL in the 1998 preseason returning a kickoff but here his onside return vs Coughlin's Jax team clinched homefield in 2000. #GiantsPride pic.twitter.com/l71tbytJgr
— BigBlueVCR (@BigBlueVCR) July 10, 2020
A few weeks later the Giants hosted rival Philadelphia in the divisional round.
At one point during the contest, Sehorn stepped in front of a Donovan McNabb pass and the ball bounced off his pads.
While he was lying on his back, Sehorn poked the ball into the air and then rolled over and caught it while still on his left knee.
Jason Sehorn unbelievable Pick 6 🤯
— New York Giants (@Giants) December 10, 2022
Realizing he hadn’t been touched, Sehorn leaped to his feet and sprinted to the end zone for a touchdown.
His unlikely score led to a 20-10 victory.
New York then shut out the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship game (Sehorn had an interception and held Vikings receiver Randy Moss to just two receptions for 18 yards) before facing the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XXXV.
Unfortunately, the Ravens proved to be too much and defeated the Giants easily, 34-7.
Sehorn Leaves New York and Becomes a Ram
In 2001 the Giants took a huge step backward and went 7-9.
Sehorn started 13 games and made 63 tackles, one sack, one forced fumble, 16 passes defended, and three interceptions including a pick-six.
What does New York need to do to get the W on #TNF? 💪
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) October 22, 2020
The following year, Sehorn started only five games and gradually lost his job to Will Peterson.
Despite his limited playing time, Sehorn still had 47 tackles, 14 passes defended, and two interceptions including a pick for a touchdown.
A few months after the Giants lost a devastating 39-38 Wild Card playoff game to the San Francisco 49ers, Sehorn was released when he wouldn’t accept a pay cut.
Not wanting to hang up his cleats just yet, Sehorn’s agent let the NFL know that his client wanted to continue playing in 2003.
“There’s still a passion to play the game and, while he might no longer have the speed or all the physical tools he once did, the instincts are still there,” said a source close to Sehorn. “He’s looking forward to playing.”
Sehorn considered offers from the Jaguars, Carolina Panthers, and St. Louis Rams before ultimately deciding to play for St. Louis.
“I think Jason will be a tremendous addition to our defense,” said St. Louis Coach Mike Martz. “I look forward to getting him here as soon as possible, getting him with (defensive coordinator Lovie) Smith, and the rest of the defense, and learning what we do.”
Martz then moved Sehorn to safety where he started three games, defended four passes, and made 25 tackles.
— Doug Rush (@TheDougRush) April 22, 2023
The Rams won 12 games then lost to the Panthers in double overtime during the divisional round.
Sehorn planned to return to St. Louis in 2004 but a failed physical ended his time with the organization and he retired.
During his career, Sehorn had 443 combined tackles, 5.5 sacks, 10 forced fumbles, 55 passes defended, 19 interceptions for 228 return yards and four touchdowns.
He was never voted an All-Pro or to the Pro Bowl but was the NFL’s co-leader in forced fumbles for the 1996 season.
High Profile Marriage
Not long after his divorce in 1998, Strahan (who eventually befriended Sehorn) tried to set Sehorn up with television actress Angie Harmon.
Sehorn didn’t know who Harmon was at the time and walked right past her at a Giants game in 1999.
“Except for maybe SportsCenter, I don’t watch much TV,” said Sehorn in 2000. “Tell you the truth, until Strahan brought her name up one day in the locker room, I didn’t know who she was.”
They started dating and two months later they were officially in love.
“When you’ve been through enough stuff in life, you start to think, There’s nothing special about me and there’s nothing wonderful, either,” Harmon said. “I grew up in a good Christian family, but before Jason came along, I was starting to wonder if God found me appealing at all. Then all of a sudden God hands me this perfect angel, and says, ‘O.K., Angie, here you go. You went through all that so you could be the right person for Jason. Here he is. Take him.'”
In March of 1999, Harmon was a guest of Jay Leno on The Tonight Show when Sehorn suddenly walked from backstage and dropped to a knee.
— Ellie (@Ellieregal98) August 7, 2012
“Without a doubt the most beautiful thing I have ever seen in my life,” said Harmon months later.
Sehorn and Harmon married in 2001 and gave birth to three daughters.
Unfortunately, in 2015, the couple divorced.
Sehorn married for the third time in 2017 to Meghann Gunderman.
While he was married to Harmon, Sehorn kept busy by making appearances on television shows such as Third Watch.
He also spent time as an analyst for Fox Sports Net’s Sunday NFL pregame show and ESPNU college football games.
Sehorn is currently the Director of Communications for Hendrick Automotive Group based in Charlotte, North Carolina.