The Meanest Man in Football is a Saint!
When new Head Coach Dick Nolan took over the New Orleans Saints in 1978 one of the biggest moves he made was to acquire Conrad Dobler from the St. Louis Cardinals. The 3-time Pro Bowler came available when the Cardinals started a rebuilding phase after a declining 1977 season – they were the “other” team to lose to the 77 Tampa Bay Bucs. In a deal that sent defensive lineman Bob Pollard and offensive lineman Terry Stieve to the Cards for Dobler and receiver Ike Harris the Saints had definitely acquired one of the NFL’s most notorious individuals.
Playing his college ball at Wyoming, Conrad Dobler was a 5th-round pick of the St. Louis Cardinals in 1972. As a rookie his play was pretty underwhelming and he was cut before training camp was over. Injuries on the Cardinals offensive line gave him a second chance. He was called back in week 3 of the season and he determined that this time he was staying. “I was going to play my own game” he said. And that’s exactly what he did. What he lacked in talent he made up for with aggression and hustle. He soon developed a reputation as being one of games most physical players – and that as an offensive lineman. His style of play used punching, kicking and generous amounts of leg-whipping he even admitted to once biting a defensive player. Hall of Famer Merlin Olsen admits that Dobler was the only player he ever wanted to take a swing at. Sports Illustrated once featured him on their cover heralding him as the “Pro Football’s Dirtiest Player”.
In the above picture, Conrad Dobler – no stranger to the rowdier side of life, holds a press conference in the French Quarter at Pat O’Briens to announce the signing. In my memory, it was probably the biggest player signing the New Orleans Saints had made in quite a long time. Of course along with Dobler came his over-the-top style of play. I’m sure many Saints fans will remember the huge cast he played with that he used to great effect.
Unfortunately he was in New Orleans just 2 seasons and was really only active in 1979. But he made quite an impression. That 1979 New Orleans Saints season was without a doubt the Saints best year to date. An 8-8 season Archie Manning was sacked but 17 times – a franchise low that was 2nd in the league that year. The Saints also touted an NFL Top 10 ranked offense – pretty rare stuff. Conrad Dobler would finish his career with 2 seasons in Buffalo.
After 10 seasons in the NFL Conrad Dobler remained unapologetic of game-play. “Take the man out of his game – then you own him” he once stated in an interview. “The more they concentrate on what I’m doing – the more they’re concerned about me, they’re not concentrating on the guy with the football. And as long as they’re doing that, I don’t even have to block the man.”