Former Oakland Raider, NBC Analyst, and College Football Analyst Dave Rowe recently retired to the beautiful mountains of North Carolina after more than a 50 year association with the game of football. Eye on Sports Media approached Dave and asked him if he would like to write a series of guest articles recounting his history with the game. The man, who proudly states that his rear-end is enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, thought it would be fun.
So sit back and enjoy this first article in a series that will run each Friday until completed.
Wow, That Guy Must Be Really Old!!!
by Dave Rowe
Wow, that guy must be really old!!!
There he is, 50 years after his first taste of football in high school, stting in the homes of Roy Pickens and Jim Hawkins sharing stories of his playing days. Old friends and playing companions Al Jessup, Harry Donnelly and Lee Oberparleiter would all show up at his induction into the high school hall of fame
What an honor. Not for him, but for them to share the honor with him!
Oh it’s me! How in the world did I ever get to a point that I could look back at a 50 year involvement in football? OK, I guess the best place to start is at the beginning
From 9th grade to 10th grade I literally grow like a weed. Coach Roy Pickens saw me in the hallway of Deptford High School in New Jersey and said, “Good Lord son you should be hunting bear with a twig! How big are you? Do you play football? I need you to come out for my team!" The rest as they say is history.
Number 38 is the number given to me as these were the days in high school before positions were give numbers. We started at Number 1 and went up to number 42. So you can see that I was the new guy because I wore number 38! High School football fascinates me.
I remember trying out for the Midgets but unfortunately, I was not one of them and could not play because I weighed too much. At that moment I might have been the only midget to get weighed before all the moms in his underwear trying to be under 125 lbs.
Football is now something where you can take out all your frustrations and hit someone and no one notices it. Being 6’7” and weighing 275 lbs. you can imagine the jokes that I hear about being big. Funny? Yes, but they hurt too.
High school is basically fun. As a sophomore, I am just learning the game. I did not realize it at the time, but my high school coaches would go on to be integral parts of my life forever.
My senior year turned out to be an interesting one from an athletic standpoint.
Being the size I am, I excel in basketball, football and track in my senior year. I am recruited by everyone. Where do I go? What sport do I want to play. Most importantly, do I go?
I was leaning more towards football because of my weight. Being 6’7” is certainly an advantage for basketball but weighing 275 lbs. can be a huge disadvantage. I was built more like a football player and after visiting five or six schools, I believe my decision swayed towards football.
By early spring, even though I loved basketball, I was going to college and play football!
I have been under some outstanding coaches as you will find out, but no one ever touched my life like two high school coaches. Coaches Pickens and Hawkins instilled the values that I would take with me throughout life! I have often wondered where I would be without their influence. I know there are many great high school coaches but NEVER have there been any better.
Sounds like we won every game. But with coaches like Pickens and Hawkins, winning was important but it was not the only thing! They made it easy for me. I can still hear Coach Pickens saying, “SON, YOU ARE GOING TO COLLEGE!” and Coach Hawkins saying, “YOU CAN BE ANYTHING YOU WANT TO BE!” It was never, do you want to go? I went because of them.
These were the days before colleges had the followings like they enjoy today! Today every young person has an affiliation to some school. I had no idea what college had to offer. I just went because my two high school coaches TOLD me to go. So it was off to Penn State I went.
Why Penn State? I have been asked that 1,000 times, and I have gone over in my mind, why did I choose Penn State? I visited a lot of schools and the more I visited the more confused I became. I looked everywhere for guidance but found little. My parents were too busy trying to raise 3 other children. My mom would ask how did you like that school and I‘d answer, “Oh, it was fine."
More and more confused, I went off to visit Penn State. Now remember Joe Paterno was an assistant coach, he did not recruit me. In the end, I believe I went to Penn State for two or three reasons.
First, the people that recruited me were great people. Alice and Mitchell Schmidt and Leon Gajecki had all gone to Penn State and were living in the area. Again, this was before the times of today’s recruiting! I almost became a member of their family if you counted the number of phone calls and visits to their homes for dinner.
The second and perhaps most important reason was that the girl I was dating in high school, who would eventually become my wife of now almost 44 years, was an inspiration. She often talked about college and my coming home for weekends. We talked about our future and how I HAD TO FINISH COLLEGE or WE didn’t have much future.
Penn State was a GREAT decision!
To be continued...