Jim Jensen, the Miami Dolphin wide receiver who doubles as backup quarterback, shattered his first passing record when he was six. It was a Motown R & B platter that was passing through his backyard. His mother, Anne, worked the night shift at the Motown record factory near the Jensens' Doylestown, Pa. house and brought her work home. " Chubby Checker, The Jackson 5, Dee Dee Sharp," she says. "Whatever was around." Jim and his two older brothers, Steve and Tom, flipped the 45s like Frisbees, trying to decapitate each other.
"Knock it off," Anne would yell from the patio. And if that didn't work, she would engage in a little flinging of her own. "Baseball gloves, tin cans, spikes from horseshoe sets," recalls her husband, Karl. "Whatever was around."
"In a way," Anne says, "Jim learned to catch to protect himself from me."
Twenty years later, Jensen is still playing catch-as-catch-can football. Since being drafted from Boston University by the Dolphins in 1981, Jensen has been a wide receiver, quarterback, split end, slotback, placekick holder and special-teams handyman—whatever's around.
Last month in a preseason game against the Raiders, Jensen completed three of six passes for 66 yards, caught two more for 16 yards and scored the winning touchdown on a three-yard scramble. He was on the receiving end of two Dan Marino TD passes in the season-opening victory over Washington. A week later he took a lateral at the Patriots' 44 and threw a touchdown pass to Mark Duper, the secondary receiver.
Jensen's experience as a signal-caller makes, him a better receiver. "When the quarterback calls the plays, I can just picture the total offense in my mind," he says. "I know everyone's routes and timing. And it's easier to read coverages."
The 6'4", 215-pound Jensen is a throwback to the days when football was played by men with names like Nagurski, Bednarik, Butkus. A teammate once had to intervene before Jensen singlehandedly took on a couple of 300-pound tag-team wrestlers called The Roadwarriors in a Fort Lauderdale bar. Yet Jensen also has a sensitive side. He gave the ball from a TD catch against Washington to Betty Wilbur, a wheelchair-bound fan he calls his " Florida mother."
Jensen earned the nickname Crash for a tackle he made three years ago in an exhibition game. He put such a violent headlong hit on the Kansas City kick returner, it seemed they might be permanently fused together, like Rosey Grier and Ray Milland in The Thing With Two Heads. Jensen's helmet flew off on impact. Now he locks it on with a double chinstrap.
He also brings along a couple of sets of shoulder pads—one for receiving, one for passing. "I never know where I'm going to be from one play to the next," Jensen says. "It keeps me on my toes and my mother worried."
Anne Jensen is responsible for Jim's interest in sports. "When Jimmy was young," she says, "I told him, 'It's either sports or working part-time delivering papers, 'cause you're not staying around the house and getting in trouble.' To avoid work, he picked football."