Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Vuono Chose to Be a Coach

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Vuono Chose to Be a Coach

Article excerpt

One brother, Ralph, played football at Brown and another brother, Frank, played at Princeton.

"I went to the Ivy of the West," Jim Vuono said of Adams State University in south central Colorado, far afield from the gridirons of North Jersey.

Before he was inducted into Lyndhurst's Hall of Fame, honoring a decorated coaching and teaching career, Vuono was part of pro football's Class of 1969 - drafted as a linebacker by the Boston Patriots in the 16th round.

It was the final joint draft conducted by the NFL and AFL prior to the merger, and Vuono wound up in Patriots camp with teammates such as Gino Cappelletti, Houston Antwine, AFL Rookie of the Year Carl Garrett and fellow linebacker Marty Schottenheimer.

"Nick Buoniconti went to Miami and I ended up with his number [85]," Vuono said of the Hall of Fame middle linebacker sent to the Dolphins in an unpopular trade. "That was a big thing up in Boston."

Training camp was held at Amherst College under first-year Patriots coach Clive Rush, hired off his performance as Jets offensive coordinator after their stunning upset victory over Baltimore in Super Bowl III.

"I remember it being torture," Vuono said of the hot, steamy practices, after which he was farmed out to the Lowell Giants - a team affiliated with the Patriots in the Atlantic Coast Football League, which operated until 1973.

Not long afterward, Vuono received a call from Joe Cervino at Teaneck High School, asking if he'd like to come to work as a teacher and a coach of three sports.

Already married - Jim and Linda Vuono will celebrate their 50th anniversary next year - and with their first child on the way, Vuono ended his pro football pursuit to begin a new career at home.

As it turned out that season, "the Pats went through six of their linebackers," said Vuono, who might have made his NFL debut in 1969. …

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