Q’Town, Jet Star’s Charity Work Still Soaring
Printed in the Bucks County Herald on November 26th.
Thanksgiving, through the football lens, means Pennridge-Quakertown.
In the 80 plus years that those two rivals have suited up, few participants have accomplished more than Ken Schroy.
Schroy was an outstanding basketball player and triple jumper, but he left his mark at Quakertown on the football field. A 2003 Pennridge-Quakertown Hall of Fame inductee and the only Panther with his number retired, Schroy rushed for over 1300 yards and scored 15 touchdowns as a senior. He was selected to the UPI’s All-State second team and invited to the Big 33 game.
“Those Thanksgiving games always stood out. I was a sophomore who had an interception in the Thanksgiving game,” Schroy recalled. “Not too many sophomores play in that game and I was fortunate to be able to do that. But Thanksgiving games were always fantastic especially when we were going for a championship, which we were.”
Interceptions would be Schroy’s trademark. He snagged 10 picks in his University of Maryland career and averaged over 18 yards a punt return as a senior, a year where Maryland finished in the top 15.
Schroy was drafted by the Eagles in the 10th round in 1975. Still recovering from a broken ankle, Schroy was the Birds’ last cut. Fortunately, others thought Schroy would look good in dark green. From 1977 to 1984, Schroy played, and mostly started as a safety for the New York Jets.
“To last 10 years,” Schroy responded when asked about his proudest accomplishment. “That is hard to do. I was fortunate enough to not have had too many really serious injuries, although I’ve had my share of operations. But to last ten years and the fact that I did it-that was my goal all along, to see if I could get to the pros and I surprised myself by doing it.
“Way back then, most of us had summer jobs. Nowadays, it is a 12 month period where you are always doing something (with football),” he continued. “I took it on myself, especially after my fifth year, to not work and completely work out almost the entire year. I think that is what helped.”
Schroy had many career highlights. His eight interceptions in 1980 were the third best in the NFL. In November of that season, he returned an interception 82 yards for a touchdown, picking off Houston Oiler quarterback Kenny Stabler and taking him to the house.
In his regular season career, Schroy had 16 picks and recovered 11 fumbles. He also had two interceptions in the 1982 AFC Championship game, which the Jets lost to the Miami Dolphins 14-0. If they had won, the Jets would have been the first team in NFL history to win three straight road playoff games.
The stereotype today is that Schroy played in a different era with different strategies for defending the pass. But he would disagree. Schroy sees a ton of similarities between today’s NFL and the NFL where he started.
“Yes, we’re seeing more scoring and the receiver has the advantage now. No doubt about it,” Schroy noted. “But because of that, now you want to get in his face, get close to him and get your hands on him before the five yard rule kicks in. You’re going to see a lot more man to man I think, if you have a decent pass rush which teams have to have nowadays. You have to have it or you’re going to get picked apart.
“It’s a fun game to watch and a lot of times I prefer to see the game in person so I can see what coverages teams are running but the coverages really haven’t changed,” Schroy observed. “Everyone says, ‘Oh it’s a different game’ but not really. Some of the oldest teams out there- the Pittsburgh Steeler championship teams- they were running man-to-man stuff and pressing. Buddy Ryan, when he started his blitzing and his 46 defense, we did that. We just didn’t call it that. Football is football.”
Schroy played in the hey day of the “New York Sack Exchange.” Led by Mark Gastineau, who held the NFL single season sack record for 18 years, and Jet Ring of Honor inductee Marty Lyons, the Exchange comprised the best defensive front in Jet history.
“We could do it because we had just four men rushing by themselves, without taking another guy out of coverage,” Schroy observed. “You didn’t have to put a fifth guy blitzing. That really helped our secondary out tremendously.”
Lyons brings us back to Thanksgiving, the ultimate day to give thanks. Sadly, far too many families spend their Thanksgiving at hospital bedsides. For the last 32 years, Lyons and Schroy have helped them.
“Marty and I were roommates for away games for the longest time,” said Schroy. “We were always good friends. We did different charities helping kids who were sick. Most of it was with the Leukemia society. We were at an away game in 1982 and Marty had just lost a little buddy from the Leukemia society that he was close too. He told me what he wanted to do and he asked me to help.”
That year, the Marty Lyons Foundation was established to “fulfill the special wishes of children between three and seventeen years old, who have been diagnosed as having a terminal or life threatening illness by providing and arranging special wish requests,” per their website. Schroy is still the Foundation’s Vice-Chairman, Board member and active volunteer.
“I never thought 32 years later that we would still be going,” Schroy admitted. “We started out with one chapter with seven people. Now we have 10 chapters throughout the United States with so many volunteers I can’t even count them. It’s a wonderful thing that people have embraced: trying to help these very, very sick children fighting these diseases every single day.”
Lyons, who is still the radio voice of the Jets, won the NFL’s Man of the Year Award in 1984 for his charity work. The Foundation has granted over 6,500 wishes.
“It’s a tough thing to see when the child dies but it is a good thing to see when we give them a little uplift and let them know that some one out there cares about them,” Schroy mused. “It’s sad at times but we’re really fortunate that it is still going. It’s a pretty cool thing that the Foundation does.”
Schroy lives on Long Island where he works as a sales executive. But his family still lives in the Quakertown area and he is a frequent visitor to Bucks County. Decades after playing his last down of football, Schroy is still strong in his Panther roots…and his passion for helping sick children.
For more information on the Marty Lyons Foundation, please visit:
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