– As a kid, I admired his toughness and competitive spirit. I’ll never forget the Sports Illustrated cover pronouncing him the “Dirtiest Player in Football.” …
I saved that magazine for years ……. The Cardinal’s offensive line at that time was among the best in the NFL; Conrad Dobler, Tom Banks, Dan Dierdorh, Roger Finnie, Bob Young, Tom Mullen, and Keith Wortman were all well-known strangers I’d often see at George Turner’s Gym in North County. I studied their every move but never ventured into their space or dared talk to them. I was 16 or 17 years old, both star-struck and completely intimidated…. I got a first-hand glimpse of football greatness … They weren’t there all of the time but – there were others to model; world-class powerlifters, bodybuilders, and even freakishly big professional wrestlers passing through town…. The gym’s hardcore reputation was a result of the hard-working blue-collar crowd of North County. They inspired a belief and work ethic I needed to succeed. I learned by keeping my mouth shut, watching, and working hard.
Years later during my first preseason game as a “Lions” rookie, I ran out of the tunnel and onto the field at Rich Stadium in Buffalo NY. My dream was unfolding …..’ warming up’ just yards away were many who unknowingly inspired me as a kid in the STL… Conrad Dobler was now an offensive guard with the “Bills.” All-Pro Ken Jones of Pattonville was an OT and Curtis Brown of St Charles HS and Mizzou was their explosive running back. HOF Curley Culp the former KC Chief was a teammate playing on our D-line…….. a brief pause …. a moment of gratitude washed over me… Thank God for those familiar strangers … they’d never know the impact they had on my football journey…. After the game, I found Conrad Dobler in the crowd, shook his hand, and briefly rambled my STL story at him…… I’m certain he didn’t understand a word I said …. So, we flew back to Detroit – a long tough journey awaited me, an adventure of a lifetime… I realized that night how far the kid from Dellwood had come …. THANK YOU AND REST IN PEACE – #66