I have devoted my adult life to football. That wasn’t my plan. I studied to become a physician while at Hillsdale College in Michigan and even spent a year in law school. But the game’s lure was irresistible.
My life would change in 1963 when the San Francisco Forty Niners sent a telegram informing me they had selected me in the ninth round. I reported to camp in 1964 with some trepidation. But I made the team and spent six seasons playing right guard with great teammates like John Brodie, Bob St. Clair, Len Rhode, Ken Willard, John David Crow, and many others. In 1969 the Forty Niners traded me to the Chicago Bears, where I threw the trap block on the Vikings’ Jim Marshall leading to Brian Piccolo’s last touchdown run.
After a serious knee injury ended my career I reflected on an experience I’d had while still playing in San Francisco. I had volunteered as an assistant offensive line coach at Stanford University during spring football practice. There I discovered I loved teaching. After my playing days, I had career options. But the path that called me was coaching offensive linemen.
I’m proud of what I accomplished as a player. I worked very hard to do all I could to become the best technical blocker possible. The honors, such as being invited to the Pro Bowl, being named an All Pro, and recognized as a member of the NFL 1960s All Decade Team are wonderful. But what I reflect on with the greatest satisfaction is my coaching career and the relationships I built with the players.
I started on the staff at the University of California in 1972. From there the San Diego Chargers hired me to coach the offensive line in 1974. In 1977 I returned to San Francisco followed by being hired as the o-line coach for the Seattle Seahawks from 1978 to 1982. I then joined the Cleveland Browns’ staff from 1983 through 1988, followed by coaching the Kansas City Chiefs’ o-line from 1989 through 1992. I then returned to Seattle for a second tour there from 1993 through 1997.
Then in 1998 the Indianapolis Colts brought me in to coach their offensive line. My job would be to assure protection for the draft’s overall first pick that year, Peyton Manning. I oversaw the o-lines that would work with Peyton to win 115 games over a ten-year span including Super Bowl XLI.
After the 2012 season I finally retired from the NFL, but not from teaching. I coached the offensive line in the East-West Shrine Game in 2014. I still travel to lecture and conduct clinics throughout the country.
Nothing energizes me like talking about and coaching offensive lines and linemen.