Conrad Dobler, NFL, 1972–1981


“When I hit a guy,” Conrad Dobler liked to say, “I’ll hit him in the throat. He doesn’t have any pads on his throat.”

Thanks to Dobler, whose technical expertise gave new meaning to the position “offensive” guard, the NFL ultimately outlawed blocking a defender’s windpipe; likewise the forgotten “leg-whip,” a scissors kick with which Dobler, when down, would effectively trip an onrushing lineman.

“Aw, fuck the rules,” said Dobler, after making All-Pro in 1977. “They’re just there to provide a little control in a violent game.”

Over a maverick, 10-year career (Cards, Saints, Bills), Dobler laughed at those who’d begrudge him his talents for eye gouging, sucker-punching, holding, and even occasionally chomping a finger or two at the bottom of a pile-up. To a charge that he’d repeatedly bitten the Vikings’ Doug Sutherland in a 1975 game, Dobler quipped that it was beneath his “dental hygiene,” before later fessing up. Sutherland: “He must be related to Dracula. What you need is a string of garlic buds around your neck.”

Dobler enjoyed legendary battles with a number of marquee opponents, most notably Hall of Famer/FTD pitchman Merlin Olsen, who offered not to “send flowers if someone breaks Dobler’s neck.” Of a run-in with Mean Joe Greene at the traditionally light-contact Pro Bowl, Dobler proudly told a reporter, “I got a foot up and shish-kebabed him right in the middle.” After a 1979 Dobler cheap shot ended Lion linebacker Charlie Weaver’s season, team mate Bubba Baker vowed revenge: “If I see him [Dobler] on the field with his back to the play, I’ll cripple him.”

One of Dobler’s more defining moments occurred at game’s end of the Cardinals’ 1974 season finale. With the clock running out and players from both sides exchanging pleasantries, Giants rookie Jim Pietrzak misguidedly extended a hand, along with his wishes for “good luck in the playoffs.”

“Thanks,” answered Dobler, punching him in the throat.