At USC, Lott was
a consensus All-America at safety in both his junior and senior seasons. As a
junior he also played reserve point guard on the basketball team. Since being
selected by San Francisco in the first round of the 1981 draft, he has led the
Niners in interceptions four times (twice sharing the lead with others) and has
been selected for the Pro Bowl in seven of his eight seasons—four times at
cornerback, which he played until 1985, and three at safety. Only two other
players, Mel Renfro and Dave Grayson, have ever been named All-Pro at both
Despite an annual
salary of $842,500, which makes him one of the highest paid defensive backs in
the league, Lott remains remarkably down-to-earth. He has owned a couple of
Mercedes, but he now drives a Volkswagen Rabbit. He lives in a modest
two-bedroom condominium in Santa Clara. Calif. On the tables in his den are his
college diploma (he graduated in four years from USC with a degree in public
administration), Suzie's wedding picture and some handmade cards from young
49er fans. The walls of his breakfast nook are covered with inspirational poems
and prayers collected by his mother. And his high school diploma is on the
nightstand in the guest room.
During the season
Lott writes a weekly column for the San Jose Mercury News and does a weekly
sports show for KNTV in San Jose. Part of his reimbursement for the show is
free commercial time for his restaurant, Sports City Cafe, which he created,
and owns with several others, including teammates Roger Craig, Keena Turner and
Eric Wright. Lott also has become a devotee of Asian art and culture. "I'm
intrigued by the peacefulness," he says. Since 1986, taekwondo has been
part of his off-season conditioning program. Three times a week he performs a
routine that includes 700 sit-ups, 400 push-ups and hundreds of kicks and
photographs of children who have written fan letters to him. Two of his buddies
are Tony and Matt Kelly, who are students at Santa Clara High. He met the boys
seven years ago at a local park. Lott plays pickup basketball with them and
takes them shopping at the mall and out to dinner. For Christmas, the Kellys
gave Lott a new basketball.
Lott has recently
received letters from Bob Burcina's 15 grandchildren. Each thanked him for
having visited their grandpa. Just before he died, Bob also sent Lott a note.
Too weak to write, he dictated it to Marie. Along with the letter he included a
poem he had written for the 49ers in 1982 that was read on the radio before
they faced the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl XVI. Marie says Bob sensed that
he might not make it to this year's Super Bowl, but he wanted to cheer on his
new friend. Bob ended the poem this way:
God goes with you
on your trip to the bowl,
and if for some reason you don't reach your goal;
Come back to us with heads held high,
for we surely know you gave it one hell of a try.
But on a sad note let s not linger.
You 're coming home WITH THAT RING ON YOUR FINGER .