In 1986, the Los Angeles Rams made a deal with the Houston Oilers to sign rookie quarterback Jim Everett.
Everett was a record-breaking signal caller for the Purdue Boilermakers and was a first-round draft pick.
By his third year in the NFL, Everett started every game for the Rams and led the team to the brink of a Super Bowl appearance in 1989.
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jim Everett drops back to pass during the Rams 21-7 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1989 NFC Wild Card Playoff Game on December 31, 1989 at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (AP Photo / Al Messerschmidt) pic.twitter.com/wVjsAPHHnz
— Erik Ho (@EHoinSDLVLA) July 18, 2020
During his time in Los Angeles, Everett played alongside some of the most talented players in franchise history.
This is the story of Jim Everett.
Late Blooming High School Star
James Samuel Everett III was born on January 3, 1963, in Emporia, Kansas.
— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) January 3, 2022
While he was still young, the Everett family moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico.
As he entered Eldorado High School, Everett was interested in several sports and played football, basketball, and golf and wrestled for the Golden Eagles.
In 1979, Everett was playing on both sides of the ball as Eldorado went to the state championship game where the team lost to Santa Fe High School.
The following season, Everett became the starter at quarterback and led the Golden Eagles back to the state title game where they defeated Clovis High School.
Everett not only played quarterback during the contest but also spent time in the secondary.
“I wasn’t like an Andrew Luck or Peyton Manning, someone who was groomed to be a quarterback from jump,” Everett recalled in 2019. “I just loved the game, was a good athlete and could just throw the hell out of the ball.”
Everett Chooses Purdue
By the spring of his senior year, a number of college teams were interested in the 6’5”, 210-pound Everett.
However, some programs wanted him to play tight end while others asked him to play linebacker.
Both Stanford and Purdue viewed Everett as a quarterback, but Purdue began to look like his best bet for a couple of reasons.
First, Everett’s high school English teacher was a Purdue grad, and she introduced Everett to Purdue coach Jim Young.
Catching up with … Jim Everett. The former @BoilerFootball
QB talks about the time Leon Burtnett wanted him to switch positions, the magical 1984 season and the special person who steered @Jim_Everett from New Mexico to West Lafayette. #Purduehttps://t.co/W7K8mp4YBL pic.twitter.com/3U0VFWpQk1
— Tom Dienhart (@TomDienhart1) May 17, 2019
Second, Stanford already had a pro-ready quarterback that Everett knew he couldn’t supplant.
“Stanford had a guy named John Elway and I was going to have to redshirt and then I would back him up for a year and have a chance to start for three more years,” said Everett. “But the Purdue situation was wide open. Mark Herrmann had just left, and I thought that would be a great opportunity to come in. Scott Campbell was there, and he could hold down the fort until I learned the ropes. But it wasn’t easy.”
Everett was swayed by the idea of becoming the next great Boilermaker quarterback and headed north to Indiana.
When he arrived on campus, Everett found out that the Boilermaker coaching staff was contemplating whether to use him at safety or quarterback.
The quarterback competition was fierce and Everett found himself in a tight battle with returning veteran Scott Campbell.
Campbell ended up getting the nod while the coaching staff tried to find a way to get Everett some playing time.
“They wanted me to play tight end and they wanted me to get on the field,” said Everett in 2020. “Jim Young told me, ‘I think you can contribute a lot right now and help us,’ but I was adamant about not doing it.”
Everett stuck to his guns and continued working with the quarterbacks.
In 1981 and 1982, he barely saw the field and passed for a combined 71 yards and one interception.
Great photo of iconic Eastern Illinois coach and ex-Boiler QB Bob Spoo when he was a Purdue assistant. In this pic, Spoo is with Jim Everett and Mark Jackson, who caught the TD pass from John Elway on “The Drive” that sent the 1987 AFC title game into OT. pic.twitter.com/w6Wa3UJCRV
— Tom Dienhart (@TomDienhart1) October 16, 2018
Everett wound up using a redshirt year so he would have more time as a collegian to compete.
During the 1983 season, he received more playing time and passed for 433 yards, two touchdowns, and five picks.
“When I went to Purdue, I wasn’t ready for that pro-style offense,” said Everett. “But I had to learn it just to get on the field.”
After the ’83 season, Campbell left Purdue for the NFL and it was Everett’s turn to lead the Boilermakers.
During preseason practice in 1984, Everett outperformed the other Purdue quarterbacks competing for the starter’s role.
He got to work and put together a scintillating season.
Will be weird not to have Big Ten football on ESPN.
ESPN’s first regular season game involving a Big Ten team (9/8/84)?
Jim Everett and Purdue shocked Tim Brown and No. 7 Notre Dame at the Hoosier Dome.
The lead up to the game? A CFL rerun, wrestling & pistol shooting! pic.twitter.com/PTBVgKSlXN
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) August 9, 2022
In the first game of the ’84 season, the Boilermakers faced Notre Dame and Everett knew he had to produce or risk getting benched.
“My junior year when we played Notre Dame at the Hoosier Dome,” remembered Everett. “It was my first start and I had that hammer over my head. If I don’t produce, I’m going to have one of these blue-chippers take my spot.”
The Purdue offense responded well to Everett, and he led the team to a dramatic 23-21 win.
“I was able to come out and function well and beat a team that was pretty darn good,” continued Everett. “And we needed that win to catapult us into having a ton of confidence and knowing this is what we needed to do to win.”
After a loss to the Miami Hurricanes the following week, Purdue responded with three straight victories including wins over Michigan State and Ohio State.
At the time, the Buckeyes were ranked second in the nation.
Nearly a month later, the Boilermakers tripped up the Michigan Wolverines by two points.
To this day, Everett remains the only Boilermaker signal caller to defeat the Irish, the Buckeyes, and the Wolverines in the same season.
Purdue ended the regular season 7-4 and played in the Peach Bowl against the Virginia Cavaliers.
— Tom Dienhart (@TomDienhart1) February 1, 2020
By halftime, Purdue was humming and comfortably ahead, 24-14.
However, Virginia blanked the Boilermakers in the second half while scoring 13 points of their own for a 27-24 win.
During the contest, Everett passed for 253 yards and three touchdowns.
For the year, he had 3,256 passing yards, 18 touchdowns, and 16 interceptions and added a rushing score.
Furthermore, Everett set program records for passing yards in a season, attempts (431), completions (249), and total offensive yards.
His stats brought Everett postseason accolades such as Honorable Mention All-Big Ten, Purdue MVP, Academic All-Big Ten, and Purdue Male Athlete-of-the-Year.
Unfortunately, the Boilermakers couldn’t sustain their winning ways in 1985. They finished the year 5-6, although the team did defeat Notre Dame for the second year in a row.
Even though Purdue didn’t return to a bowl game in ’85, Everett continued to play well.
During his senior year, he became the first Boilermaker quarterback to throw for more than 1,000 yards after the first three games and the first Purdue signal-caller to pass for more than 2,000 yards after the season’s first six games.
Everett then broke his records from the year before and became the program’s single-season record holder in attempts (450), completions (285), and yards (3,651). He also tied the school record for touchdowns with 23 while tossing 11 interceptions.
.@BoilerFootball quarterback and @PurdueAlumni, @Jim_Everett was selected in the first round of the 1986 @NFL Draft.#ILoveThatDude#BoilerUp #Purdue #BoilerMaker #CradleOfQuarterbacks #PurdueFactoid #BeatIOWA #PURvsIOWA pic.twitter.com/l7THz9pwgx
— Boilermaker Rebirth! (@FootballDied) October 16, 2021
His 3,589 total offensive yards led the NCAA.
He was voted a third-team All-America, Academic All-Big Ten, second-team All-Big Ten, and Purdue MVP.
Everett also finished sixth in Heisman voting and was awarded the Big Ten Medal of Honor for his combined academic and athletic achievements.
In his college career, Everett passed for totals of 7,411 yards, 43 touchdowns, and 33 interceptions, and had three rushing scores.
First Round Pick
Everett was a highly regarded prospect for teams looking for a signal caller in the 1986 NFL Draft.
With the third overall selection in the first round, the Houston Oilers picked Everett.
Today's #LARams #BrawlCountdownSpotlight Player is @Jim_Everett
-Originally Drafted 3rd by Oilers in 1986 #NFLDraft out of @BoilerFootball
-8 Seasons with @RamsNFL
-1986 All Rookie Team
-1980 Pro Bowl
-Led NFL in Passing TD's (1988 & 1989)#BrawlNetwork #NFLTwitter pic.twitter.com/6RnSh1nGRO
— Rams Brawl ™️ (@RamsBrawl) September 2, 2020
At the time, the Oilers had Warren Moon on their roster, and he was about to lead Houston through several years of exciting offensive football.
However, in his first two years with the club, the Oilers had won only eight games total.
Moon had also missed a few games in 1984 due to injuries and threw 15 picks.
Looking over the Houston quarterback situation, Everett believed it was his job to lose.
“I don’t expect to go down there and sit on the bench,” Everett said. “I’m going down there to compete with Warren Moon for the starter’s job.”
In 1985, the Oilers were ranked 24th in the NFL in total offense and the organization hoped Everett would provide a spark.
“I really don’t have a mental picture of when I might start,” Everett said. “I think with the quarterbacks they have there now (Moon and backup Oliver Luck) … they have a lot of experience and a lot of things I could probably learn from those two. The quicker I pick things up, the better I’ll be.”
Houston’s quarterback coach, Gary Huff, believed competition would be beneficial for Moon and Everett.
“I expect a quarterback, if he’s getting a lot of competition, to be able to handle that kind of pressure—that’s understood,” said Huff. “I think Jim Everett will be competitive. I think Warren Moon is going to be competitive and they’re both going to be better because of that and our team is going to be better because of that.”
Everett Becomes a Ram
In the end, the supposed quarterback controversy turned out to be much ado about nothing as Everett and the Oilers couldn’t agree to contract terms.
This Day In 1986: Rams trade Kent Hill, Will Fuller & 3 draft picks to Oilers to get heralded QB prospect Jim Everett pic.twitter.com/J6zEXOsKLb
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) September 17, 2015
After he missed the first two games of the season holding out for his rookie deal, Houston and the Los Angeles Rams agreed to a trade where the Rams would receive Everett and the Oilers would get veterans William Fuller, Kent Hill, and three draft picks.
“I learned a lot about the NFL being drafted by the Houston Oilers,” Everett said. “You look at No. 1 picks and they don’t want to be at that particular place, and you think they’re just greedy. I learned a little bit about how you need to represent yourself.”
Rams head coach John Robinson gave Everett a few weeks to learn the playbook while he sat behind Steve Bartkowski and Steve Dils.
By the time Week 11 arrived, Everett was hungry to play.
“Coach (John) Robinson was going to give me eight weeks to understand the terminology and the whole deal,” said Everett. “I felt like I was ready to go a couple weeks earlier, and I was begging for him to put me in. And yeah, it was a long road (before I got to play in) Week 11, but once we got in there, it was really fun.”
Robinson started Everett against the New England Patriots that week, and the rookie responded by throwing for three touchdowns.
His first start looked like it would produce a win until the Patriots threw a hail Mary at the end that was caught for a game-winning touchdown.
Everett started five games as a rookie and passed for 1,018 yards, eight touchdowns, and eight picks.
— 𝕽𝖆𝖒𝖍𝖊𝖆𝖗𝖙 (@WillramWallace) July 20, 2018
He was selected to the PFWA All-Rookie Team after the season.
The Rams won 10 games in ’86 and lost in the Wild Card round to Washington.
In 1987, Everett started in 11 games and passed for 2,064 yards, 10 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions and the Rams won only six games.
The following year, both LA and Everett got back on track.
Now in his third year as a pro, Everett’s production exploded as he began to grasp the nuances of the NFL game.
It also helped that the Rams added UCLA receiver Flipper Anderson in the second round of the 1988 NFL Draft to pair with Ellard.
— So Cal Rams Booster Club (@SoCalRamsBC) April 20, 2018
Everett threw for 3,964 yards, a league-leading 31 touchdown passes, and 18 picks.
The Los Angeles Rams won 10 games and faced the Minnesota Vikings in the Wild Card round.
The Rams were unable to generate any consistency that day and lost 28-17.
For a good portion of the 1989 season, the stars seemed to align for the Rams.
The year started out great when LA won its first five games.
That was followed by four straight losses before the Rams corrected course and won six of their final seven games to end ’89 with an 11-5 record.
Everett led LA’s second-ranked offense well and passed for a career-high 4,310 yards, an NFL-best 29 touchdowns, and 17 interceptions.
In a Week 12 matchup against New Orleans, Everett and Anderson connected 15 times for a team record (and still NFL best) 336 yards and a touchdown as LA erased a 17-3 deficit to win, 20-17.
Great Rams Moments vs Saints
November 26, 1989. New Orleans
— Rams Rewind (@RewindRams) September 13, 2019
Then, in the Wild Card round, LA defeated Philadelphia and dispatched the New York Giants in the Divisional round.
The Rams only needed to get past the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game to reach the Super Bowl.
The “Phantom Sack”
During the regular season, LA had slipped past their division rival by one in Week 4 and lost to San Fran in Week 14 by three points.
This would be the third time the two teams faced each other in the same season, and it promised to be a hard-fought contest.
To the shock and dismay of Rams fans, that wouldn’t be the case.
The 49ers’ defense feasted on the LA offense and shut down Ellard and Anderson all day.
Whenever he attempted to pass, Everett found himself faced with a wall of Niners defenders.
He was able to get rid of the ball numerous times before getting pounded, but by the second half, Everett was panicked.
At one point, the Rams faced third and 10 at their own 21-yard line.
Everett dropped back to pass as numerous 49ers defenders swooped in for the kill.
Jim Everett, the Rams QB who somehow beat the ‘89 49ers and ‘92 Cowboys in the regular season, also gave us the infamous Phantom Sack in the ‘89 NFC title game. John Madden was not pleased lol. #49ers pic.twitter.com/Rhg3sVZXaA
— Joe Montana’s Right Arm (@JoeMsrightarm) December 3, 2021
Without getting touched, Everett fell to the turf, leading to a sack.
“I’ll tell ya, Everett felt the bullet when there was no bullet!” John Madden shouted to his CBS audience. “I don’t know I’ve ever seen a quarterback get knocked down when there was no contact. You should not feel that [phantom pressure], I don’t care.”
By the end of the contest, Everett had managed only 16 completions for 141 yards and three interceptions in the 30-3 loss.
The “shell-shocked” Everett could only marvel at the Niners’ defense.
“Don’t ever say the 49ers aren’t physical,” Everett said after the game. “They can bring it.”
The Rams Lose Their Mojo
Beginning with the 1990 season, the Rams suffered a long time (and a move to St. Louis) before the team was competitive again.
Everett passed for 3,989 yards, 23 touchdowns, and 17 interceptions in ’90, which netted him his only Pro Bowl selection.
Pretty cool when one of your middle school role models of back in the day pops in on you and likes one of your tweets.
I've been an Los Angeles Rams fan since birth, thanks Jimmy@Jim_Everett you just made my morning!! pic.twitter.com/8YSZCNpWpN
— Tim *The Suspense is Global (@TookeAustin) February 26, 2020
Despite a great individual performance from their quarterback, the Rams won only five games.
From 1991 through the 1993 season, LA won 14 games total.
Everett had over 3,000 passing yards in ’91 and 1992 but played in only ten games in ’93 and accounted for 1,652 yards and eight scores.
Trade to The Big Easy and Fisticuffs with Jim Rome
By 1994, Everett was ready for a change.
The Rams’ head coach at the time, Chuck Knox, was a ground-based coach and didn’t see eye-to-eye with Everett.
— LA RAMS FOOTBALL (@MattStaffordQB1) April 18, 2022
In the spring of ’94, LA traded Everett to the New Orleans Saints.
“I probably should have left a couple years earlier. I probably should have left when Chuck Knox came in. I just wasn’t his guy,” Everett recalled.
A month after signing with New Orleans, Everett was a guest on ESPN television personality Jim Rome’s Talk2 show.
Ever since Everett’s phantom sack game, Rome had referred to Everett as “Chris” Everett in reference to former women’s tennis star Chris Evert.
Rome believed that Jim Everett’s aversion to hard hits, and the phantom sack game, in particular, made Everett unmanly.
Still, Everett agreed to be on Rome’s show in April of 1994.
Shortly after the interview began, Rome called Everett “Chris.”
Everett warned Rome not to say it again.
“You know what, you’ve been calling me that for about the last five years,” Everett responded. “If you guys want to take a station break, you can,” Everett said. “But if you call me Chris Evert to my face one more time, we better take a station break.”
However, Rome was (and still is) known for his brash behavior and confrontational style and proceeded to call Everett “Chris” once more.
April 6, 1994: Jim Everett goes after Jim Rome on ESPN2’s Talk 2 show (which was televised live). pic.twitter.com/DGKDiBgkbR
— This Day In Sports Clips (@TDISportsClips) April 6, 2020
Everett then stood and pushed over the table separating the two and went after Rome.
Rome would later apologize for the incident and Everett would call the experience a low point in his career.
Everett Can’t Help the Saints
On paper, the Saints looked like a good team.
When Everett arrived in 1994, the franchise had Lorenzo Neal, Wesley Walls, Quinn Early, and Michael Haynes along with a solid offensive line anchored by tackle Willie Roaf.
Everett passed for more than 3,800 yards and 22 touchdowns, but he couldn’t help New Orleans get more than seven wins.
— IRV Smith (@IrvSmith8284) January 3, 2021
In 1995, the Saints stalled at seven wins again while Everett passed for 3,970 yards and 26 touchdowns.
New Orleans went through two head coaches in 1996 when Jim Mora was fired after eight games, and Rick Venturi finished the year.
The result was a three-win season in which Everett passed for 2,792 yards, 12 touchdowns, and 16 interceptions.
San Diego and Retirement
Everett signed with the San Diego Chargers in the summer of 1997.
San Diego was three years removed from playing in Super Bowl XXIX and had not made the playoffs in 1996.
Everett was ready to join new Chargers coach Kevin Gilbride’s team and help get the organization back to the postseason.
“I just know that every time I button up my chin strap, I’m going to give them hell,” Everett said. “I look to come down to San Diego and have a ball. I’ll be in a very cool offense with a group of good guys in a good organization. It all means fun.”
It turns out that the Chargers weren’t good under Gilbride, and Everett started only one game, a Week 2 contest against his former team, the Saints.
— Ryan Kennedy (@LADodgers1988) January 30, 2017
San Diego won the game, the first of just four wins that season.
Everett passed for 457 yards, one touchdown, and four interceptions that year and then retired.
In his career, Everett passed for 34,837 yards, 203 touchdowns, and 175 interceptions, and had 596 rushing yards and four more scores.
He was a one-time Pro Bowler and led the NFL twice in passing touchdowns.
After leaving the game, Everett went back to school and graduated with an MBA.
@BoilerFootball legend @Jim_Everett found academic and athletic success at #PurdueUniversity. As an industrial management @PurdueKrannert student, he built the skills he needed to launch a successful asset management company. 🎧: https://t.co/3SM8yOWMGJ pic.twitter.com/M0g0UjGiXk
— Purdue Daniels School of Business (@PurdueBusiness) October 5, 2021
He started an asset management business called The Jim Everett Company which he ran for 15 years.
Everett then switched gears and became a football analyst for various television networks in Southern California.
Although he had a solid career in the NFL, there are questions about whether Everett’s stats are worthy of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“My experience, to me, was Hall of Fame worthy,” said Everett in 2019. “If they want to talk about who belongs in or out based on a Super Bowl ring, that’s fine. Not everyone is blessed with teams that are Super Bowl caliber. That’s just how it is. I played the best I possibly could. I played as hard as I could have for my teammates. I’m totally satisfied.”