JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Sharks won their first game of the season last week behind the play of new quarterback Danny Southwick. If the name doesn’t sound familiar to Sharks fans, there’s good reason for that.
He had joined the team just a week earlier. Southwick tossed six touchdown passes, including the game winner to help the Sharks beat Albany, 61-58.
So, just who is Danny Southwick?
The fact that he’s still playing arena football at the age of 39 is interesting, but it’s not in the top five of the reasons why Southwick is the most interesting man in arena football.
Let’s start with his background.
In college, he signed with Brigham Young out of high school, but then went on a two-year mission. When he returned, Southwick enrolled at Oregon State before transferring to Dixie State College in Utah for a season. Then, he transferred to the University of Utah before going back to Dixie State.
Southwick played his senior season as a backup at Occidental, a school Southwick said is best known for former President Barack Obama having attended. If Southwick had gone from backup, small college quarterback to starter in the indoor game, that would be notable.
But that’s not the most interesting thing about Southwick. Not even close.
He wanted to try his hand at pro football and got a chance with the Louisville Firebirds of the Arena Football League. His shot lasted less than a year. The team and the league folded.
That started a massive football odyssey. Over the next 13 years, Southwick moved 21 times to new teams, rarely playing multiple years in the same town.
“I certainly have had a lot because I played for a long time,” he said. “And, and so it’s been a wild ride, I’m really, you know, I love playing ball. That’s why I do it.”
And that’s not even the most interesting thing about Southwick.
As he has crisscrossed the nation playing football, Southwick has also been studying. First, he finished his undergrad. Then, Southwick got his MBA at the University of California Irvine. It was all motivated by a drive to improve himself.
“I wanted to be great at something. And I always wanted that to be football. And I was all-in on football,” he said. “I want to be the best I can be in my life, whatever path that ends up being. I want to play football for as long as I can. And each step along the way has been just learning little tools. Kind of became a more refined version of that desire that was there 15 years ago to achieve something in my life.”
Then, Southwick learned of a program at Penn called positive psychology. He applied, was accepted and earned his second master’s degree.
“And I thought, this is kind of like the pinnacle of my academic experience, but then I met an advisor there and she said, ‘you know, maybe you think about a Ph.D.’ And I was like, ‘well, yeah, I can, you know, maybe go to you know, DeVry Institute.’ She’s like, ‘no, why do you think about a Ph.D. here?’ Really? OK.”
That’s what he’s working on now. He figures he’ll become Dr. Danny Southwick in the next year or two if all goes well.
And that’s not even the most interesting thing about Danny Southwick.
In 1997, when Southwick was 15, his mother, Shawn, a well-known actress, married TV legend Larry King.
What was that like?
“You kind of had a relatively normal life. And then all of a sudden, everyone knows, you know, your stepdad’s on TV,” Southwick said. “Our relationship was very much stepdad, stepson. You couldn’t find a guy that’s more supportive of other people’s dreams. Whoever he was around, he always wanted to find a way to help them achieve success.”
Southwick has lived quite an interesting life in his 39 years. Whenever his football career ends, the next chapter figures to be just as interesting, but perhaps with less travel and time away from his wife and three children.