E.J. Junior to Enter Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame
By Bill Boehlke
Former Seahawks linebacker and linebackers coach Ester James (E.J.) Junior is one of eleven inductees to be enshrined into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame at its annual banquet on February 19th in Nashville, Tennessee.
A graduate of Maplewood High School in Nashville, Junior played at the University of Alabama for Bear Bryant where he was a two-time All-American. During his career at Alabama, the Tide won two national Championships (1978-79), he was named SEC Player of the Year and was named an All SEC selection three times.
Following graduation, the St. Louis Cardinals selected Junior as the fifth overall pick in the first round of the 1981 NFL draft. The two-time Pro Bowler went on to a 13-year NFL career where he was regarded as one of the game’s outstanding linebackers. He was even named to the first ever All-Madden team.
A 6’3″, 235 lbs. linebacker from the University of Alabama, Junior was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1st round (4th overall) of the 1981 NFL Draft. He played in 13 NFL seasons and was regarded as one of the game’s outstanding linebackers. He was also named to the first ever All-Madden team. Junior played for the Cardinals (1981-88), the Miami Dolphins (1989-91), the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1992), and the Seattle Seahawks (1992-93). He was a two-time Pro Bowl selection for the Cardinals in 1984 and 1985.
Since leaving the NFL, Junior has been the executive director of youth programs in Miami under the NBA’s Alonzo Mourning. He also spent time back in the NFL as a coach and in the front office. He was the Seahawks linebackers coach in 1994, and then was the director of player development programs for the Miami Dolphins from 1996-1998. He has been a minority intern coach for the Minnesota Vikings (2003) and Jacksonville Jaguars (2005) and coached in NFL Europe for the Rhein Fire in Düsseldorf, Germany. On the college setting, he coached the linebackers at the 2005 and 2006 East-West Shrine Game.
From April, 2006 to March, 2009, Junior was the linebackers coach at Southwest Baptist University. He was promoted to defensive coordinator in February 2009, but left a month later to take the position of head coach for Central State University.