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Catching up with QB Bruce Mathison

He's the answer to two big-money trivia questions. "Who is the last ex-Nebraska Cornhusker quarterback to throw a touchdown in the NFL?" And, "Who was the starting quarterback for the Buffalo Bills before Jim Kelly?" "I'm the answer to both," say...

He's the answer to two big-money trivia questions.

"Who is the last ex-Nebraska Cornhusker quarterback to throw a touchdown in the NFL?"

And, "Who was the starting quarterback for the Buffalo Bills before Jim Kelly?"

"I'm the answer to both," says Bruce Mathison. "Send me half of your winnings when you answer those trivia questions."

Mathison was one of the most productive ex-Husker quarterbacks in the NFL during his career with San Diego, Buffalo and Seattle from 1983, when he was a 10th-round draft pick of the Chargers, until he retired in 1988.

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At Nebraska, he was hard to notice from 1978 until 1982 when he backed up Jeff Quinn and Mark Mauer, then Turner Gill and Nate Mason.

Mathison led the 1978 NU freshman team to a 5-0 record, but played in just a few games the next four years, hitting 14-of-33 passes for one touchdown, and rushing 47 times for 270 yards and five touchdowns. He scored the winning touchdown for the Huskers against Missouri in 1982.

"When I got recruited to Nebraska, I saw films of Vince Ferragamo and Dave Humm and Nebraska was a passing team that ran a few options to keep the defense honest," said Mathison, who now lives in Phoenix. "After about two years, It hit me that Nebraska was not the school I should have picked. They had brought in Turner Gill and that wrote the book for me."

So Mathison spent time on the scout teams, imitating Thomas Lott and other opposing quarterbacks. "I got big and strong and learned how to run with the ball," he said. "It came in handy when I went to the NFL."

But he put aside thoughts of transferring. "I was married and had a kid and it would have been messy," Mathison said. "And Tom Osborne, he was so great to me and kept me going and he and Charlie McBride kept talking to scouts and even though I hardly played at Nebraska, I got invited to the (NFL) combine."

He competed with the newest graduates, including Dan Marino, Jim Kelly, Tony Eason, Todd Blackledge and others.

McBride said he knew Mathison was the best quarterback for the pros that Nebraska had. "He was going to be good for somebody and we had to keep telling him to stick it out and the NFL would find him," he said.

Mathison's powerful arm proved he had plenty of potential, so the Chargers drafted him. He played behind Dan Fouts for two years, then joined Buffalo and replaced former Husker and Super Bowl quarterback Ferragamo.

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"Would I like to play in Nebraska's offense now? Are you kidding? It would be perfect to be in (Bill) Callahan's offense," he said.

Mathison has worked in multi-level marketing since he retired from the NFL. He's also dabbled in tutoring promising quarterbacks.

"I can still chuck the ball a long way and I can tweak a kid's throwing so he can add some speed and height and avoid the interceptions," he said.

Mathison also works in the Dave Rimington summer football camps in Omaha and works with Rod Smith's nonprofit Future for Kids camps for underprivileged children.

"I'm still a Husker even though I don't have a Go Big Red bathroom in the house," he said. "I think what they're doing now looks promising. I'm down here where the Arizona State fans still hang onto the 1996 win over Nebraska and where you run into Husker fans anywhere you go."

Currently, Mathison is working with a group marketing and developing a TV show. The show, "America's Greatest Athlete," is going to travel to 14 cities and have athletes compete in 20 different events, with the winner taking home $1 million.

"The networks have this on their desks and we're lining up sponsors. I think it's going to be big," he said.

NOTE: This story originally ran on the Nebraska Cornhusker Web site in September. ... Mathison graduated from Superior Senior High School in 1977. He will be in Superior from July 13-15 for his 30-year class reunion and during his return, he and current Spartan football coach Bob DeMeyer are making plans for a one-day football camp. More information will be available at a later date.

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