Former Showboats coach Pepper Rodgers dies at 84

Former Showboats coach Pepper Rodgers dies at 84
Coach Pepper Rodgers (Source: WMC)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A Memphis football legend has died. Former Memphis Showboats coach Pepper Rodgers has died.

Pepper coached the Showboats in the Fledgling USFL that lasted 2 years in1984-85 before the league folded.

The Showboats regularly drew big crowds to the Liberty Bowl, and had big-time players, like Pro-Football Hall of Famer Reggie White on the roster.

Rodgers was later was part of the city’s NFL expansion drive in 1993 that made the final four, but the league awarded franchises to Charlotte and Jacksonville.

In 1995, Rodgers coached the Memphis Mad Dogs for the one year five American cities had teams in the Canadian Football League.

He also coached Mark Harmon at UCLA and John Riggins at Kansas,

As a collegiate quarterback himself, Rodgers led Georgia Tech to a perfect 12-0 season and a tie for the National Championship in 1952, throwing a touchdown pass and kicking a field goal in a 24-7 win over Ole Miss in the Sugar Bowl.

Liberty Bowl executive director Steve Ehrhart worked with Rodgers as General Manager of both the Showboats and Mad Dogs. He said Rodgers was one of the most creative individuals he’d ever met, and not just as a football coach.

Pepper wrote two books, including the popular “Fourth and Long Gone” about a highly recruited running back.

Ehrhart said Rodgers never took himself seriously, but always took his job seriously. Pepper Rodgers was 84 years old.

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