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|Born:||April 29, 1944|
|Career highlights and awards
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James Warren Hart (born April 29, 1944) is a former American football quarterback who played in the National Football League (NFL) for the St. Louis Cardinals from 1966 through 1983 and the Washington Redskins in 1984.
Hart was raised just outside Chicago for the first few years of his life, until his father died when he was seven. His mother remarried, and Hart's stepfather encouraged him to play sports. It was at Niles West High School in Skokie, Illinois when he started playing football as a quarterback, though he lettered in basketball for three years and also played baseball. He received a football scholarship to play for the Southern Illinois Salukis from 1963 through 1965. After not being drafted in the 1966 NFL Draft, Hart's former coach Don Shroyer invited him to a tryout with the Cardinals. He impressed the team and was signed soon after.
He played in relief of Terry Nofsinger in the final game of the 1966 season on December 17 for the Cardinals (who had lost Charley Johnson due to fulfilling an ROTC commitment), and he threw 4-of-11 for 29 yards in a 38-10 loss to Cleveland.
After the season, Hart was left to be the starter. For the 1967 season, he started all 14 contests, going 6-7-1 while throwing for 3,008 yards with 19 touchdowns and 30 interceptions on a 48.4 completion percentage. Both his yards and interceptions would prove to be career highs. The following year, he and the team improved slightly, with him going 8-3-1 in the 12 games he started (with Charley Johnson starting two games), throwing for 2,059 yards with 15 touchdowns to 18 interceptions on a 44.3 completion percentage. Hart split time with Johnson for the 1969 season, playing in nine games while starting five (with Johnson starting the other nine), and he went 2-3 with 1,086 yards for six touchdowns and 12 interceptions on a 49.7 completion percentage, although the team won just four games for the first time since 1962.
These early career teams were mediocre at best (31–33–5 in his first seven years), but the hire of coach Don Coryell in 1973 turned things around. From 1974 to 1976, he guided the Cardinals to three straight ten-plus-win seasons along with back-to-back division crowns in 1974 and 1975, leading the "Cardiac Cards" to ten game-winning drives during that three-year span. However, in the postseason Hart went a combined 40 for 81 in passing with two touchdowns and 4 interceptions, and the Cardinals were eliminated in the first round twice.
In 1976, he threw for a career high completion percentage of 56.2%, complimenting that with 2,946 yards for 18 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, with the team going 10-4. By the time the Cardinals returned to the playoffs again at the conclusion of the 1982-83 season, Neil Lomax had already established himself as the starter and Hart did not play. He stayed with the team for one more season as the back-up to Lomax before being released after the 1983 season. Hart was signed by the Redskins to back up Joe Theismann for the 1984 season, playing little in that season before retiring in the off-season.
In his career, he was also selected to the Pro Bowl four times. In the 1977 Pro Bowl, Hart threw five interceptions, the most in the Pro Bowl's history. He went 87–88–5 in his career, was sacked 243 times, and played in 201 games. As of 2013[update], he was 25th in passing yards, 29th in victories, 34th in completions, and 32nd in passing touchdowns, though he is 10th in passes intercepted (including a 30-interception season in 1967, the sixth player in history to achieve this dubious benchmark), 73rd in being sacked, and 161st in Passer rating. He has the most passing attempts, completions, yards, touchdowns, interceptions (both career and single season), wins, and losses as a Cardinal.
Hart was named the NFC Player of the Year by UPI, All-NFC and second team All-Pro for the 1974 season. Hart was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 1998 for his contribution to the sport of football.
Hart broadcast games on WGN with Dick Butkus after his retirement until 1989.
Hart has been married to his college sweetheart for over 40 years; he has three children and four grandchildren. He resides in Naples, Florida, and often participates in charity golf tournaments.
- "Mind-blowing stats for the 2013 Pro Bowl". National Football League. January 24, 2013. http://www.nfl.com/photoessays/0ap1000000130611/mindblowing-stats-for-the-2013-pro-bowl. Retrieved January 24, 2013.
- "1998 Inductees into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame". mosportshalloffame.com. Archived from the original on February 9, 2008. https://web.archive.org/web/20080209185517/http://www.mosportshalloffame.com/inductee_search. Retrieved June 10, 2008.