Not every athlete is fortunate to have a parent who is a successful coach and local legend.
It’s even more rare for that same parent to coach their own kids.
However, that’s precisely who taught Ted Ginn Jr. the tricks of his future trade.
He learned the sport of football from his father, Ted Ginn Sr., the head coach at Glenville High School in Ohio.
Junior thrived under his father’s instruction and became one of the best high school athletes in the country.
After an outstanding prep career, Ginn Jr. matriculated to Ohio State University where he electrified crowds as a receiver and return specialist.
Dolphins Ted Ginn Jr became the 1st player in NFL history w/ 2 TD's of 100 yds or more in the same game in a 30-25 win over the Jets in 2009 pic.twitter.com/MA4Mr7IDCj
— Miami Dolphins🐬🆙 (@AquaAndOrange13) May 6, 2017
A first-round pick of the Miami Dolphins in 2007, Ginn embarked on a 14-year career with six different franchises.
Along the way, he put his speed to use as a punt and kick returner and helped two teams reach the Super Bowl.
This is the story of Ted Ginn Jr.
Ginn Overcomes a Learning Disability
Theodore Ginn Jr. was born on April 12, 1985, in Cleveland, Ohio.
He was barely in elementary school when his teachers began to doubt that Ginn would succeed at anything in life.
“I struggled right off the bat. I failed first grade,” remarked Ginn in 2007. “Teachers could never cope with how I learned so slowly. In sixth grade a teacher asked me to spell a word. I told him I couldn’t spell it, but he kept badgering me. So I just didn’t say anything. He told me, “Your life is going to be flipping hamburgers at Burger King.”
Ginn continued to struggle with his academics until he was in middle school.
“In eighth grade I got diagnosed with a learning disability,” continued Ginn. “I just need more time. If it takes you two weeks to read a book, it will take me four. Or it might take three or four times of you telling me what’s going on. High school [Glenville High] helped me get comfortable with where I was at. It was a major turnaround from almost failing almost every grade—seriously—to getting on the honor roll, finishing 16th in my class, and making it to college. Living through that makes things a lot easier for me now.”
Senior Mentors Junior
As Ginn Jr. was working on his academics, he was also developing into an extremely talented athlete.
Ginn’s father, Ted Ginn Sr., had been a factory worker and beverage shop owner before getting into coaching.
Ginn Sr. had a number of assistant coaching stops before being hired to lead the Glenville High School football and track teams.
By the time he reached Glenville High, Ginn Jr. had lost friends to gang violence, but he was on the straight and narrow with his father as his coach.
The Tarblooders under Ginn Sr. gained a reputation for assembling great talent and posting winning records.
When Ginn Jr. played for his father, it was obvious that big things were ahead for the young man.
“As a kid, my father kept me around,” Ginn Jr. said in 2004. “I was the ball boy, the mascot, the dude that would go get the tee after the kickoff and I was doing other things, and I liked it. I always wanted to be a Tarblooder. My sister was a Tarblooder, so were my mom and my dad, and I wanted to be one. But I wanted to be the best one, I guess.”
During his prep career, Ginn played quarterback, receiver, and defensive back and he played each position extremely well.
He enjoyed playing quarterback the most, but he was stellar in the secondary and ran great routes as a receiver.
Caught up with OSU legend Ted Ginn Jr. during Glenville’s matchup vs Hoban. I asked him what advice he has given these Glenville players. He responded:
Finish high school. Play for yourself, play for the guys below you, play for your seniors. This is your statement year. pic.twitter.com/isD5WM7etA
— Coop (@JJCoop25) October 7, 2023
In his senior year in 2003, Ginn played primarily quarterback and cornerback.
As the Tarblooders’ signal caller, Ginn used his feet to scramble for 850 yards and eight touchdowns.
He also passed the ball for 931 yards, 12 touchdowns, and only two picks.
From his corner position, Ginn had eight interceptions and returned no less than five of them for scores, including one for an Ohio record 102 yards.
Ginn Sr. also had his son play on special teams and Ginn Jr. had four kick returns for 138 yards and a touchdown and 10 punt returns for 280 yards and three more scores.
After the season, he was named a Parade Magazine All-American, SuperPrep National Defensive Player of the Year, USA Today Defensive Player of the Year, and selected as the Ohio Prep Player of the Year.
Ginn was also a special talent on the Glenville track team as a sprinter and hurdler.
Before Ted Ginn Jr. was one of the top returners, he was a state champ for Glenville. What are you doing this spring? pic.twitter.com/rDpFlIwb6c
— Boardman Track & CC (@BoardmanTrackCC) February 22, 2015
During his junior and senior years, Ginn set several national records and many college track coaches believed he could compete in the 2008 Olympics.
Despite all the accolades, Ginn remained humble.
“Ted is a great kid. He’s very humble and he’s still a kid; I think’s that what makes it so exciting,” said Ted Ginn Sr. “I think any kid that had been in the situation that he’s in, you would probably have to keep him maintained and keep him from reading his articles and not let anything go to his head. Ted looks at that stuff and he likes it, but he goes on because he knows that he hasn’t arrived yet.”
Ginn Becomes a Buckeye
Before he competed in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl (where he was voted the MVP), Ginn was non-commital about where he wanted to play college ball.
“For now, I’m just going on with recruiting and I’m trying to find a school that will let me do both, track and football,” Ginn said. “If they have a good track team, then I can train better and get prepared for the Olympics (in ‘08).”
Meanwhile, the Ohio State Buckeyes wanted Ginn badly and envisioned him playing receiver.
“Everywhere you go in Cleveland, you know who the Ginns are,” said Georgia defensive coordinator Mel Tucker in 2016, a Cleveland native who recruited Ginn to Ohio State. “Ted is a big, big deal there. He has always known what it takes.”
Ginn chose the Buckeyes at halftime of the All-American Bowl so he could be close to home and play for one of the best programs in the nation.
As a freshman, Ginn realized that trying to play Division I football while also working toward the Olympic Games was a daunting task.
He dropped track and devoted all his time to the OSU ball team and put on an athletic display few freshmen are capable of.
On offense, Ginn didn’t get a lot of first-team reps, but he did have 25 receptions for 359 yards and two touchdowns and gained 113 yards rushing with two more scores.
Where he really earned his keep was playing on special teams.
Against Wisconsin on October 9, Ginn fielded just his second punt return as a collegian and weaved his way 65 yards for a touchdown.
That was one of four punt returns for touchdowns Ginn had that season, setting an OSU record in the process.
On This Date In Ohio State History – Nov. 20, 2004 – Ted Ginn Jr. set a Big Ten single-season record with his fourth punt return for a touchdown to help Ohio State upset No. 7 Michigan, 37-21.
📷: Jim Davidson/The Ozone pic.twitter.com/YIa9x0rauF
— Andrew Lind (@AndrewMLind) November 21, 2020
He set a second team record with an average of 25.6 yards per punt return.
Two weeks later against Indiana, Ginn somehow corralled a tipped pass and sprinted 59 yards to paydirt, leaving mouths agape.
To close the year, Ginn scored from five yards out against the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the Alamo Bowl to help OSU win easily, 33-7.
The 2005 Buckeyes squad had a talented offense that featured quarterback Troy Smith (Ginn’s former high school teammate) and fellow receiver Santonio Holmes.
Ted Ginn Jr. and Santonio Holmes, Ohio State 2005 pic.twitter.com/8OCSUVVdtd
— College Teammates (@NCAATeammates) November 3, 2018
Ginn saw more playing time and responded with 51 catches for 803 yards and four scores while adding 83 rushing yards and another touchdown.
On special teams, he had 250 punt return yards and a touchdown along with 532 kick return yards and yet another score.
Ted Ginn Jr. was ELECTRIC at Ohio State 🔥pic.twitter.com/QqywanO1fF
— 247Sports (@247Sports) July 28, 2023
OSU went 10-2 and humbled number five Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl, 34-20.
Ginn led all receivers during the contest with eight receptions for 167 yards and a touchdown.
He scored again on a 68-yard run in the second quarter to give the Buckeyes a 14-7 lead.
In 2006, OSU was even better than the year before and won all their regular season games.
Ginn was so good and so fast that the Buckeyes coaches frequently rolled out the “Ted Ginn formation” leaving him on one side of the field as the lone receiver.
Defenses still couldn’t stop him as he collected 59 passes for 781 yards and nine touchdowns.
On special teams, Ginn had 266 punt return yards, a touchdown, 440 kick return yards, and another score.
During a game against Indiana in mid-October, Ginn surprised everyone with a fake reverse by throwing a pass that was completed to Rory Nichol for a touchdown.
Then, in a tight contest against rival University of Michigan in the final game of the season, Ginn confused the Wolverines when he lined up as a tight end and caught a 39-yard pass from Smith for a touchdown.
OSU was ranked number one and met second-ranked Florida in the BCS title game on January 8, 2007.
15 years ago tonight OSU got off to a fast start in the BCS Championship Game as Ted Ginn Jr. returned the opening kickoff 93 yards for a TD. It was all downhill after that. Heisman winner Troy Smith was just 4 of 14 passing for 35 yards and the Gators rolled 41-14. 🐊 #GoBucks pic.twitter.com/qO6p32GtFn
— Johnstone (@JStoneTrivia86) January 8, 2022
On the opening kickoff, Ginn showed off his blazing speed in front of a national audience and took the rock 93 yards for a touchdown.
Unfortunately, during the celebration that followed, a teammate accidentally injured Ginn’s ankle, and he was done for the day.
OSU was also finished as the Gators rebounded for a 41-14 beatdown.
Ginn Declares for the Draft
Shortly after the title game loss, Ginn announced that he was giving up his senior year to enter the 2007 NFL Draft.
He didn’t have much left to prove in college.
In just three years, he had 135 receptions for 1,943 yards and 15 touchdowns, 213 rushing yards, three rushing scores, and one touchdown pass.
Ginn also tallied 900 punt return yards and six scores (a Big-Ten and OSU record), 1,012 kick return yards, and two more touchdowns.
He was a three-time first-team All-American and a first-team All-Big Ten in 2006.
Because of the ankle injury he sustained in the BCS Championship game, Ginn couldn’t show scouts his stuff at the annual NFL Combine or at OSU’s Pro Day.
However, once he was fully healed, Ginn hosted a private workout for NFL scouts in the spring of 2007.
In front of a stunned audience, Ginn ran blistering times ranging between 4.37 and 4.45 seconds in the 40-yard dash.
Miami Selects Ginn
Ginn’s OSU highlights, as well as his pre-draft 40-yard dash times, had many NFL teams salivating for his talent.
With the ninth overall selection in the first round of the 2007 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins took Ginn, and he was promptly booed by Dolphins fans.
“I’ve been booed before, and I’ve gone through way bigger things than being booed,” Ginn shared with Sports Illustrated during his rookie year. “The team has been great to me. I’ve known Coach Cam [Cameron] for many years. I’ve known receivers coach [Terry] Robiskie for years too. I’ve known [wide receiver] Chris Chambers damn near my whole life. I don’t see having this type of family, this type of support, anywhere else.”
One of the main reasons Ginn was booed by the home fans was due to the fact that Miami needed a quarterback.
— Glen (@glenmeans34) April 25, 2013
That was obvious when the organization went 1-15 in 2007, the worst record in team history.
Ginn, however, proved he was worthy of his draft selection by starting nine games and catching 34 passes for 420 yards and two touchdowns, the best-receiving totals for a Miami rookie since 2001.
He also had 230 punt return yards, a touchdown, and a league-high 63 kick returns for 1,433 yards while setting a franchise rookie record with 2,086 all-purpose yards.
Ginn was then selected to the Pro Football Writers Association’s All-Rookie Team.
Trade to San Francisco
In 2008, Ginn started 14 games and led the Dolphins in receptions (56) and receiving yards (790) while scoring twice through the air and twice on the ground.
The Dolphins rebounded from one win in 2007 to 11 wins in 2008 and a playoff loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the Wild Card round.
During a Week 8 contest against Buffalo, Ginn caught seven passes from quarterback Chad Pennington for 175 yards.
Week 8 great performances: October 26, 2008 WR Ted Ginn Jr. torches the Bills for 7 catches for 175 yards as Dolphins beat the Bills 25-16. pic.twitter.com/MFZHTi3vRN
— Dolphins History (@DolphinsHistory) October 29, 2022
He also sliced through New England in Week 12 with 154 kick return yards.
The following season, Ginn had 38 catches for 454 yards (including a career-best 11 reception day against Indianapolis in Week 2) and a touchdown and made huge plays on special teams.
On November 1, he took no less than two kickoffs back for touchdowns against the New York Jets, tying an NFL single-game record.
11 years ago today ..Ted Ginn Jr returns 2 kickoffs for touchdowns in Dolphins 30-25 win over Jets in their final game at Giants Stadium before they moved into their new dump. pic.twitter.com/peC6LSzt0A
— Dolphins History (@DolphinsHistory) November 1, 2020
Ginn was later named the NFL’s Special Teams Player of the Month for November.
Then, after three seasons in Miami, the organization traded him to the San Francisco 49ers in April of 2010.
Taking a Backseat as a 49er
When Ginn arrived in San Francisco in 2010, the team already had second-year receiver Michael Crabtree and tight end Vernon Davis.
The Niners didn’t envision Ginn taking many receiving opportunities from either pass-catcher and used him almost exclusively on special teams.
As San Fran went 6-10, Ginn had 12 receptions for a touchdown, but he also had 1,313 combined punt and kick return yards as well as a punt return touchdown.
Not much changed in new coach Jim Harbaugh’s first season with the club in 2011.
During the Niners’ Week 1 game against Seattle, Ginn returned a Seahawks kickoff for 102 yards and a touchdown.
Ted Ginn Jr had a kick-off and punt returned for TD! 102 yards returned 😳
Throwback 2011 Week 1 Seahawks @ 49ers pic.twitter.com/vZEHnfJnqe
— 49ers Throwback ❤💛 (@49ers_Throwback) January 9, 2023
Not even a minute later, he returned a punt 55 yards for another score.
It was the first occurrence in team history that a player returned a kick and punt for touchdowns in the same game.
His remarkable day led to the NFL Special Teams Player of the Week award.
Despite his heroics, Ginn had 19 receptions and zero touchdowns in ‘11.
In 2012, his offensive output was even worse as he caught just two passes for one yard, although he had 579 combined return yards.
That season the Niners went 11-4-1 behind quarterbacks Colin Kaepernick and Alex Smith and advanced to face Harbaugh’s brother, John, and the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII.
During the Niners 34-31 loss, Ginn was targeted once and returned a free kick on the last play of the game to the 50-yard line.
A Panther and a Cardinal
In March of 2013, Ginn was signed by the Carolina Panthers and finally got more opportunities to be a receiver.
1️⃣9️⃣ Days until Carolina #Panthers football🏈
Today’s player of the day #️⃣1️⃣9️⃣: Ted Ginn Jr., WR 2013 & 2015-2016
— The Panthers Magpie – NFL UK (@PanthersMagpie) August 22, 2023
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton found Ginn 36 times for 556 yards and five touchdowns, the most receiving scores in his career to that point.
The Panthers also used him to return punts and kicks and Ginn totaled 911 yards.
After Carolina’s 12-4 season, Ginn caught four passes for 104 yards in a loss to San Francisco in the divisional round.
It was Ginn’s first 100-yard receiving day in the postseason.
He was released by the Panthers after the playoffs and signed a three-year deal with Arizona for 2014.
THIS JUST IN: The Arizona Cardinals have signed former Panthers WR/KR Ted Ginn Jr to a 3-year deal. pic.twitter.com/1WR9CcG8gE
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) March 13, 2014
However, just like his time in San Francisco, Ginn was hardly used as a receiver (14 receptions total) and collected 694 yards in kick and punt returns along with a punt return touchdown against the Giants in Week 2.
Not surprisingly, Ginn was released by the Cardinals following the season.
Back to Carolina
By the spring of 2015, Ginn was incredibly discouraged.
He knew he was a good athlete who could contribute to the success of any NFL franchise, but he was barely given a chance.
The knock on Ginn was that he dropped way too many passes that he should have caught, but he still wanted the opportunity to get better.
“It was a lot,” Ginn said. “People trying to figure out situations where it might not be looking right with [me], and you feel some blame. You get a lot of feedback from people. They think you’re doing something that you’re not doing. In the back of your mind, you’re just going to work, and there’s nothing different with you. They feel you should be doing this or that.”
Just when things were looking bleak, Carolina brought Ginn back for the second time.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 9, 2015
In 2015, the Panthers were firing on all cylinders.
Ginn was still used for special teams work, but this time he got more starts as a receiver and finished the year with 44 catches for 739 yards and a career-best 10 touchdowns.
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) December 20, 2015
Carolina went 15-1 and beat Seattle and Arizona in the playoffs to meet the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50.
“This is about the happiest I’ve seen the kid in a long, long time,” Ginn Sr. said days before the Super Bowl.
Ginn had a better afternoon than his first Super Bowl experience as a 49er and tallied four receptions for 74 yards and three punt returns.
Unfortunately, the result was still the same, and Peyton Manning and the Broncos won, 24-10.
Ginn Lands in the Big Easy
Ginn was re-signed by the Panthers in 2016 and caught 54 passes for 752 yards and four touchdowns and added nearly 400 yards in kick returns.
“Any time Ted Ginn plays and you really let him play, something good goes on with your team,” Ginn said about his role with the Panthers. “[Carolina] knew who I was as a person and a player. They were able to put me in situations where I excel. They had my back, and I had theirs. I’ve always been a receiver. I just think in other people’s eyes, they can say I’m a receiver now.”
As much as he enjoyed playing in Carolina, the organization didn’t re-sign Ginn in 2017 and he was picked up by the New Orleans Saints.
As fate would have it, the Saints had just drafted and signed Marshon Lattimore and Justin Hardee respectively, two athletes that played for Ginn Sr. at Glenville High School.
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) January 11, 2018
The reunion was exciting for both Ginn men, especially for Coach Ginn, who couldn’t have been more proud.
“I think (the common thread) is hard work and dedication,” said Ted Ginn Sr. “I think that all of those guys have one thing in common: They worked hard. But the most important thing is that they believed, when they were kids, that they could be on this level. But every time I look at them, I always think about what they’ve been taught, that you come from a community that you can achieve. They continue to show that every day because they know they’re the example, hope for others.”
In his rookie year, Lattimore had five interceptions including a pick-six, and was named the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year.
He attributed his success to his time at Glenville.
“Glenville is the truth, man,” Lattimore said. “Crunch time and big moments and all that, you know you’ve been through it. Even though it’s high school, just to have that feel on any level – keeping your cool in situations, like when your back is against the wall – just things like that, it prepared me a lot, even at Ohio State. Glenville is where it all started.”
Ginn Jr. was used mostly as a receiver and hauled in 53 passes for 787 yards and four touchdowns.
The Saints won 11 games and played against Carolina in the Wild Card round.
Panthers week. When Ted Ginn Jr. took it 80 yards to the crib in the 2017 Wild Card Round 💨💨
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) September 13, 2023
During the game, Ginn caught four passes for 115 yards and a touchdown in a 31-26 win over his former team.
New Orleans lost the following week in the divisional round to Minnesota.
Ginn played two more years in the Big Easy but injuries limited his productivity.
In 2018 and 2019 combined, he had 47 receptions for 630 yards and four touchdowns.
During the spring of 2020, Ginn was signed by the Chicago Bears and had only three catches for 40 yards before being released in November.
Ted Ginn Jr. has announced his retirement after 14 seasons in the #NFL…
— NFL Stats (@NFL_Stats) July 16, 2021
When no NFL teams showed interest in his services, Ginn retired from football in July of 2021.
“It was a hard decision, but it was one that had to be made,” Ginn said during a press conference at Glenville High School in Cleveland, Ohio. “I dedicated my life and my time to football, my entire life until now,” Ginn said. “Being able to go out peacefully and on a joy is all I wanted to be.”
During his career, Ginn had 412 receptions for 5,742 yards and 33 touchdowns, and 486 rushing yards and two scores.
As a return specialist, he posted totals of 2,624 punt return yards and four touchdowns, and 6,899 kick return yards and three touchdowns.
Ginn was a member of the 2007 PFWA Rookie of the Year Team and played in two Super Bowls.
Life in Retirement
Ginn hasn’t been retired for long and it looks like he might be following in his father’s footsteps.
In June of 2023, he was invited by the Saints to coach receivers and special teams during training camp.
Ginn was only too happy to accept and the organization may bring him on full-time in the future.
“I still got something left in the tank,” Ginn said. “I ain’t going nowhere. This is still Teddy Ballgame. I’ve been coaching for a long time,” Ginn added. “Even when I played in the league, I was somewhat a coach. As I got older, I could see I had some different pointers and things that people took from me.”