By Trent Friedel, Exclusive to the Times
Natchitoches’ own Edward Joseph Perot. Who is that? Well you may know him better as Petey Perot, pronounced “pay roe.” Perot was born on the gridiron as a Saint Mary’s Tiger under the watchful eye of Coach John Wayne Odom. He was forged in the Demon inferno at Northwestern State University emerging as an All-Louisiana selection at offensive guard for 1977-78. He soared at the top of the game as a Philadelphia Eagle playing in Super Bowl XV. I had the honor of talking with Petey earlier this week to find out some things about the six-year NFL veteran as his Eagles make another title run.
My curiosity began with the name Petey. How did he get such an odd nickname with no Pete or Peter in his given name? Well, just how you imagine many things happen. He recalls getting the moniker in second or third grade and it just kind of stuck through athletics playing baseball and CYO football. Saint Mary’s didn’t have football until his seventh or eighth grade year. It would become the place where he would excel in athletics. There are plenty of stories in Natchitoches about the days of old when coach Odom walked the sidelines. Perot didn’t share any of those but he did have much praise for coach Odom. Petey said at one point he thought of quitting the team.
He remembered the way coach Odom handled the situation. He said it was admirable and it garnered Petey’s respect for him. It obviously worked out for the best as Perot became an All-State selection in football his senior season. That attention caught the eye of the coaching staff at local Northwestern State University.
Petey Perot played four years for the Demons and was actually recruited and played as a defensive tackle until his senior season when he was moved to guard by no other than Joe Raymond Peace. Peace would move on to become the Louisiana Tech head coach from 1988-95. There will be more on a Tech connection later. Petey did recall another demon that would be drafted in the 1979 class. Mr. Irrelevant for 1979 came from NSU that year. Given the title as Mr. Irrelevant is the last player selected in the draft. That year the title went to fellow demon Mike Almond drafted by the Pittsburg Steelers as a wide receiver. Football is often compared with battle or war.
The tactics of offensive and defensive strategies, holding and maintaining ground, and being victorious over your opponent are planned and executed. I doubt Sun Tzu, the ancient Chinese author of the “Art of War,” is quoted on the football field very often, but he says, “To know your enemy you must become your enemy,” also “knowing the enemy enables you to take the offensive.” I guess the best way to know the enemy on the football field is to have played his position at a high level and be able to recognize his techniques and be successful against them. Moving from defensive tackle to offensive guard put Perot in just such a situation. Petey garnered All-Louisiana accolades at the offensive guard position and the Philadelphia Eagles selected him in the second round of the 1979 draft with the 48th pick. Perot moved to Philadelphia and actually lived in New Jersey just across the Delaware River during his playing days. I’ve visited the City of Brotherly Love and had to ask about the weather and the food. Petey said the weather was, “tolerable and the food not so bad. Not Cajun but not bad.” I’d imagine an NFL lineman has a gargantuan appetite and I tried to figure out if he was a Pat’s or Geno’s man. Those establishments are two of the iconic corner cheese steak restaurants in the city. He wouldn’t commit to either of those as his favorite but said he that ate at the “Original.” He also enjoyed the deli shops, Italian food, pizza and seafood. The Eagles would emerge as the NFC Champion in 1980, his second year. Philadelphia was a part of the NFC East along with the Dallas Cowboys, Washington Red Skins, Saint Louis Cardinals and New York Giants. That was a tough conference in those days. Dick Vermeil arrived as a new head coach in Philadelphia in 1976, and two years later had the Eagles in the playoffs for the first time in 18 years. Petey recalled how Coach Vermeil and the Eagle’s front office used the draft to build the eventual Super Bowl contender. Notable or interesting acquisitions in 1979 included Tony Franklin, a barefoot kicker from Texas A&M. Yep, you read that right BAREFOOT kicker. The Eagles also added three-year consensus All American linebacker Jerry Robinson from UCLA. The 1979 year and Petey’s first with the organization would be a prelude to the Super Bowl year. The 1979 season was the second straight year that the Eagles made the playoffs posting an 11 – 5 record and the year of the Miracle at the Meadowlands.
Look it up, does the name Herman Edwards ring a bell? Petey recalled playing the Chicago Bears, beating them in the wildcard game that year and lining up against future Hall of Fame tackle Alan Page. The Eagles then lost to the Tampa Buccaneers in the divisional game 24 to 17. Enter 1980 and the opportunity of a lifetime. He used the term “a season that snowballed into great success.” The Eagles indeed found great success that year winning 12 games in the regular season including a victory over the Oakland Raiders, their eventual opponent in the Super Bowl. Perot recalled with clarity the losses that year. Those losses came against St. Louis, San Diego, Atlanta and Dallas. Petey recalled lining up against some good players during that year including Gary “Big Hands” Johnson from Shreveport, a Grambling product playing for San Diego and future Hall of Fame defensive tackle Randy White of the Dallas Cowboys. Philadelphia would have to play White and the Dallas Cowboys twice in the regular season and again in the NFC Championship game. The Eagles split the regular season against the Cowboys winning the first game and losing the second, which was the last regular season game for each team. He said, “The Cowboys were up on us pretty good like 35 to 10 and we made a comeback but lost 35 – 27.” The NFC Championship game he said was played in frigid conditions.
The game time temperature was 17 degrees, cold indeed. The Eagles were led by quarterback Ron Jaworski AKA the “Polish Rifle” or simply “Jaws” that Super Bowl year. He was ineffective in that NFC Championship game completing only 9 of 29 passes for 91 yards. The Eagles had to get it done on the ground behind Perot and an offensive line that opened holes allowing running back Wilbert Montgomery to scamper for 194 yards and a touchdown. Eagles 20 Cowboys 7 and Philadelphia earns a berth in the Super Bowl played in New Orleans Superdome. This would be the second of seven super bowl games hosted in the Dome. It was also five days after the Iran Hostage crisis ended and pre game festivities were patriotic in theme. The Oakland Raiders jumped out to a 14 to 0 first quarter lead that the Eagles never recovered from. Perot and the Eagles faced a stingy Raiders defense led by household names like John Matuszak, Matt Millen and future Hall of Famer Ted “The Stork” Hendrix. Perot also recalled the other hall of fame inductees on that Raider team including Gene Upshaw and Art Shell. He went through the lineup on offense for me. Left tackle Stan Walters, he was left guard, center Guy Morriss, right guard Woody Peoples and right tackle Jerry Sisemore. The Eagles lost the game but its plain as day that Perot has fond memories of his days in an Eagle uniform.
His thoughts on this year’s matchup between Philadelphia and New England you ask? Well he says anything could happen. He remarked that many give the upper hand to the Patriots who are perennial contenders and the Eagles don’t have their starting quarterback. He commented that Nick Foles has picked up the slack, “The offensive line is good and to be honest they should match up real well with the Patriots defense and the Patriots offense, to me, doesn’t match up well on the front lines, maybe at cornerback and defensive backs.” As you might expect, he picks the upset Eagles by one over the Patriots 21 – 20.
Petey Perot returned to Louisiana to play for the Saints for the 1985 season. After that he was a colligate coach at both the University of Southern Mississippi and Louisiana Tech. Some of his more notable pupils from Tech are NFL Hall of Fame New Orleans’ Saint Willie Roaf and Super Bowl winning tackle Grant Williams who played for that New England team he’s cheering against now. Perot, you are a true Natchitoches legend and I hope your Eagles upset the Patriots. But more importantly I hope you have a big Sac-A-Lait on the end of your line. But just as you know Edward as Petey, you may call that fish a Crappie.