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R. Jay Soward
No. 81, 18
Date of birth (1978-01-16) January 16, 1978 (age 37)
Place of birth United States Rialto, California
Career information
Position(s) Wide Receiver
College USC
NFL draft 2000 / Round: 1/ Pick 29
Career history
As player
2000–2001 Jacksonville Jaguars
2004–2006 Toronto Argonauts (CFL)
2011 Wenatchee Valley Venom (IFL)
Career stats

Rodney (R.) Jay Soward (born January 16, 1978 in Rialto, California) is a gridiron football player who is currently a free agent.

College career[edit]

He burst onto the college football scene with a 4-TD game vs. UCLA in his freshman season with USC. Despite Soward's superior skills, he never reached his potential in his USC career, ending his tenure with 32 touchdowns in four seasons.[1]

Professional career[edit]


Soward's pure talent was too much for the Jacksonville Jaguars to ignore and they took him with a first-round selection (29th overall) in the 2000 NFL Draft. Soward did not take the pressure of being a first-round selection very well. "I think the hardest part for me was dealing with all the pressure after getting drafted," he recalls. "I didn’t play well my first year so people were on me a lot. I wish I would have went to New Orleans in the second round. I wish I hadn’t ever been a first round draft pick. I felt that New Orleans had a better staff to suit me at that time. I think being with those guys would have changed my future in the NFL."[2]

After wearing out his welcome with the Jags in training camp, before playing in his first game under head coach Tom Coughlin (who had gone so far as to send a limousine, at the team's expense, to pick up Soward every day for practice, just to make sure he would come), he was suspended several times by the NFL for violating the league's substance abuse policy. He has not filed for re-instatement since his last suspension. Though many media outlets attributed the suspension to marijuana, his suspension came as a result of alcohol abuse. "I can honestly say I was an alcoholic at that time in my life," Soward recollects. "That’s why I’m not playing in the NFL, because I was an alcoholic at that time."[2]

After entering the NFL's substance abuse program, Soward was critical about its effectiveness. "It was horrible counseling. I’ve been in every rehab centre known to man," said Soward. "They even had the nerve to put me in rehab in Miami, the drug capital of the world. I don’t really think the rehabilitation process is very good for players down there. I think it is more of a disciplinary kind of rehabilitation which doesn’t teach anybody anything. For me, the more they took away from me the more it made me want to drink, the more it made me want to feel depressed, the more it made me want to feel bad about me."[2]

Soward ended his lone season in the NFL appearing in 13 games, and caught 14 passes for 108 yards with no touchdowns.[3]


It was not until four years later that Soward's pro football career was resurrected in Canada. On May 18, 2004, the Toronto Argonauts signed him to a contract.

As an Argonaut, his primary role in the offense was as a fly route receiver that stretched the defense and whose long receptions usually translated into touchdowns. This was reflected in his touchdown to reception ratio of 10:39 (as of August 19, 2006). The only drawback to Soward's Argonaut tenure has been maintaining his health for a full season.

In his first year with the team, Soward went on to win a Grey Cup Championship.

In 2005, Soward and the Argonauts were unable to repeat as back-to-back champions, losing the Eastern Division Championship to the Montreal Alouettes. In that game, Soward was dubiously remembered for an overzealous touchdown celebration. After scoring a touchdown, he ran into a concession stand setup behind the end zone, grabbed a bag of popcorn, and shared it with a teammate and nearby fans. Though his touchdown helped to put his team up 14-0 after the first quarter, the Argos got outscored 33-3 for the next three quarters. That led many to believe that Soward's timing for his celebration stunt was not only premature, but a catalyst that fired up the Alouettes. "It was a very spontaneous thing and I apologize to the people of Toronto if they feel I took away our opportunity, but I was just making an atmosphere where people can enjoy the game and see something different."[2]

In 2006, when asked about the popcorn incident prior to a rematch against the Alouettes, Soward stated that he felt the criticism against him was unjust and that he would do it again if the opportunity presented itself.[3] He told Los Angeles radio station KLAC that he got the popcorn idea from seeing Keyshawn Johnson do it after scoring a touchdown when he was playing football for West Los Angeles College. During the East Division semi-final that year, Soward caught the game winning touchdown to help the Argonauts advance to the division finals which they went on to lose vs. the Alouettes in Montreal.

On December 15, 2006, Soward was released by the Argonauts. Since then he has been making a living in repairing televisions and working in a warehouse.[1]


For the 2011 season, Soward signed to play with the Ontario Warriors. [4]


  1. ^ a b Paul Oberjuerge, Redemption song, San Bernardino County Sun, July 18, 2007.
  2. ^ a b c [1][dead link]
  3. ^ Hathaway, Justin (April 2, 2013). "Jacksonville Jaguars: Best and worst draft picks". National Football League. Retrieved April 4, 2013. 
  4. ^ "Official Website of The Ontario Warriors". Retrieved 9 June 2012. 

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R._Jay_Soward — Please support Wikipedia.
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179 news items


Tue, 14 Apr 2015 16:35:38 -0700

0414-r-jay-soward-GETTY-01 Former NFL receiver R. Jay Soward -- a 1st round pick in 2000 -- says his entire family is "traumatized" over the prison murder of his cousin ... who cops suspect was killed by ex-NFL star Lawrence Phillips. As we previously ...
Black & Teal
Mon, 23 Dec 2013 09:57:02 -0800

That player ended up being R. Jay Soward, an underachieving but flashy WR for the USC Trojans. He had amazing skills, though his senior year was a little underwhelming. He had a four TD game his freshman year, yet only managed 32 touchdowns over ...
Fri, 15 Oct 2010 19:23:53 -0700

Former USC Trojans receiver R. Jay Soward, who admits to taking money from former agent Josh Luchs while he was in college, said he believes the NCAA needs to give student-athletes more in their stipend checks. In an interview Friday with Steve Mason ...
Conquest Chronicles
Tue, 26 Oct 2010 16:54:43 -0700

R. JAY SOWARD: "Not at all. Not at all. I mean people are probably doing it everywhere. Somebody's probably taking some money right now. You know, we should do a statistic on that. Every five minutes a college kid is taking money from an agent.".

Yahoo Sports (blog)

Yahoo Sports (blog)
Wed, 02 Sep 2015 08:44:34 -0700

Soward, who TMZ reported is the cousin of former NFL first-round pick R. Jay Soward, was serving 82 years to life for first-degree murder. Phillips is one of the NFL's all-time off-field character issue warning tales. The St. Louis Rams somehow thought ...


Mon, 13 Apr 2015 11:52:09 -0700

WR R. Jay Soward: Taken in 2000 by the Jacksonville Jaguars out of USC. The idea that the Tom Coughlin-coached Jags would take Soward, who had an "iffy" attitude at USC, was shocking. And it didn't work out. Soward lasted one season in the NFL, ...

Bleacher Report

Bleacher Report
Thu, 14 May 2015 05:50:41 -0700

But then in early April, for reasons that remain unclear, Phillips, 39, was moved from isolation into a cell with 37-year-old Damion Soward, who was the cousin of former USC Trojan and NFL wide receiver R. Jay Soward. Prison officials didn't respond to ...

Orlando Sentinel

Orlando Sentinel
Wed, 29 Apr 2015 06:37:54 -0700

Yes, the Jaguars have had their share of busts, too (see Justin Blackmon, Matt Jones, Derrick Harvey, Reggie Williams, R. Jay Soward and -- eek! -- Blaine Gabbert) and the Bucs have had even more profound busts than the Jags and the Dolphins (see Vinny ...

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