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Toughness, discipline defined Don James, his teams


By Brady Henderson

Jim L. Mora was a walk-on at the University of Washington and then a graduate assistant at his alma mater before beginning a coaching career that has included jobs with the Falcons and Seahawks and now UCLA.

He spent five years playing and coaching under the late Don James, and what he remembers most about those teams was the attitude they played with.

“Tough, disciplined, hard-nosed, mentally tough, run-and-hit football teams,” he told “Brock and Danny” on Monday. “We were tough suckers, and that was because of Coach James and the way he approached us and the way he taught us and what he demanded of us and the way lived his life and his attention to detail.”

Mora, a Huskies defensive back and linebacker from 1980-83, said he remembers James’ penchant for motivational speeches and the feeling he would get before games as the coach led the team onto the field.

“When you played for the University of Washington and Don James and you put on that gold helmet with the purple ‘W’ on the side and that dark purple jersey and the gold pants with the stripes and you walked out on Husky Stadium with Don James leading the way with his flat-brimmed hat and that big old crown and no smile on his face and he would kind of get up on his toes a little bit, you just knew that you were going into battle with a group of men that were just like you – hard and tough and tough-minded and hard-nosed and physical,” he said. “We were going to try and impose our will on people. I had a very small part, I just got to run down on some kickoffs and stuff, but I still felt the same way.”

Tony Softli, another former Husky who played for and later coached under James, said he realized James’ discipline and attention to detail once he joined his staff.

“You knew what to expect week-in and week-out, year-in and year-out,” Softli told “Bob and Groz” on Monday. “And as a coach I really understood it because his practice plans were almost the same a year later, to the date, to the minute. Everything was counted, it was a military-type plan, extremely organized, impeccably organized, extremely detailed and it was fun. It was fun as well, not only as a player but as a coach. It’s probably one of the best times of my life. It really was.”