Thursday, May 14, 2020

Former Showboats Coach Pepper Rodgers Dies

Posted By on Thu, May 14, 2020 at 10:29 PM

Pepper Rodgers, who was head coach of the Memphis Showboats of the USFL in the mid-1980s, has died at age 88. A former football player, Rodgers also was head coach of the Canadian Football League’s expansion Memphis Mad Dogs in the mid-1990s.

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He and his wife, Livingston, lived in Reston, Virginia.

Born in Atlanta, Rodgers was a quarterback and kicker for Georgia Tech. He was later the head coach at  Kansas, UCLA, and Georgia Tech.

He’s the author of the 1985 novel, Fourth and Long Gone, and his autobiography, Pepper, which he wrote with Al Thorny.

Longtime friend Steve Ehrhart, AutoZone Liberty Bowl executive director, says, “He was one of the most creative and clever and ingenious people — not just a football coach. He was a very bright and intelligent guy. He always shook up the coaching world wherever he was.”

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And Ehrhart says, “He could tell stories and make you laugh better than anybody else could. He could spin a story better than anybody. He connected with the players wonderfully. Better than any coach I’ve ever seen. He could speak the language, bust their tail at practice, and make them laugh. He created an atmosphere where everyone was having fun, even though they were working hard.”

Ehrhart hadn’t seen Rodgers in three months. “I tried to get them to come back to Memphis recently, but he wasn’t ready to travel.”

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