Part six of a 12-day series profiling each member of the 2012 Colorado Athletic Hall of Fame, leading up to the induction ceremonies on Thursday, Nov. 15. Today's profile is on Boyd Dowler, a member of CU's All-Century football team. Click here for more information and to register for the 2012 induction ceremony.
A multi-sport superstar, Boyd Dowler remains one of the most distinguished athletes CU has ever seen. Although he is now a Hall of Famer in collegiate and professional football, Dowler came out of high school as a self-described “better all-around athlete than specifically a football player...probably a better basketball player and hurdler in track.”
But it’s easy to see where Dowler got his passion and genes for sports. His dad was a high school football coach. He and his brother were simply athletes playing whatever was available to them. At the time, it was playing football, basketball and running track.
With all the choices, football seemed to be at the bottom of that list to start.
“I went to CU on a dual scholarship...I wasn’t highly sought after as a football recruit. CU offered me a scholarship because I was capable of playing more than one sport. I didn’t really understand what I would be as a college (athlete),” Dowler said. “(In terms of football), I had been a tailback to high school and wasn’t a college prospect but I could do a lot of things. I could throw, I was big, I could run. I was about six foot four inches.”
The decision with which sport to focus on quickly became apparent as the football coaches slowly realized the gem of a player they had recruited – albeit a player that didn’t even consider football his best sport.
|Boyd Dowler (44) with Eddie Dove (11) in 1958.
His freshman year, CU football decided to change to the now famed single wing offense and head coach Dal Ward placed Dowler at quarterback. Dowler is quick to admit that at the time, he “didn’t get much done.”
However, the story takes a curious turn; as a junior he led the conference in pass receiving...as a quarterback. Interestingly enough, this was also when Dowler describes himself beginning to think about the possibility of playing professional football.
“I just played for three years and didn’t even think about pro football until I was a junior...It was kind of unusual (to) lead the conference (in pass receiving) as a quarterback but I knew I wasn’t going to be a quarterback in the pros. I wasn’t sure what I was going to play (position-wise). I thought I could punt in the NFL. I was very versatile. The thing I did have was attractive, I could do a lot of different things and was able to contribute in a lot of ways,” Dowler explains.
CU head coach Dal Ward took advantage of this and later; Dowler’s coach in the NFL, Vince Lombardi, also made use of the full range of his talents.
Essentially, he was a chameleon on the football field. He did anything and everything the coaching staff needed him to do.
In his career at CU, Dowler’s statistics are the best way to tell that story.
Just to start, he caught 41 passes for 628 yards and six touchdowns. Seems like nothing crazy...until you realize this was all done within a predominantly rushing-focused offense. He also threw for 769 yards, seven touchdowns, and rushed for 65 yards and three touchdowns. On the defensive end, he made 10 interceptions, a record that was second-most in school history at the time. Oh, and let’s not forget that he could also punt.
From quarterback to wide receiver to punter, there were few things Dowler couldn’t do and he knew it.
“I was a pretty good college passer. I was a pretty good college receiver,” he unashamedly admits. “You do what you can do in the offense. I kind of grew with the offense and it suited what I was capable of doing. In different formations, I did different things; I called the plays and helped out a little in the running game.”
After a distinguished collegiate career, Dowler was drafted by Green Bay in the third round (25th player overall) of the 1959 NFL Draft. The selection started an NFL career highlighted by playing a major role in Green Bay’s 1960s dynasty. While success didn’t come easy at first, it was only a matter of time before Dowler’s talents began to shine too brightly for the Packers coaches to ignore.
“Coach told me I was a wide receiver. I came to training camp and played and caught a couple balls. We then got our brains beat the Colts. I didn’t start immediately but I played. But then, we went back up to Green Bay, I caught some balls and got pretty hot,” Dowler says of his early days in the NFL.
|Dowler (44) was a first team All-Big Seven performer and honorable mention All-American in 1958.
He blazed his way to the 1959 NFL Rookie of the Year award. When describing his days with the Packers, the nostalgia quickly kicks in for Dowler.
“When I got Rookie of the Year, we actually won more games than we lost that year. The Packers had basically been terrible. In my second year, we got to the conference championship and got beat by the Eagles. In the next seven years, we won five world championships. It was a great time to be a Packer.”
After 12 seasons in the pros, 11 of them with the Green Bay Packers, Dowler’s achievements piled up and his legacy continued to grow.
In a career where he played wide receiver, split end, flanker, and punter; he had 474 receptions for 7,270 yards (15.3 per) with 40 touchdowns. In addition to five NFL titles, including Super Bowls I and II, Dowler earned All-Pro honors on two occasions and played in two Pro Bowls. He was also selected to the all-decade team for the 1960’s and named to the Packers Hall of Fame in 1978. Dowler was also named to CU’s All-Century Football Team and is a member of the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame.
After his retirement as a player, he continued in the NFL as an assistant coach with the L.A. Rams and Washington and as a college scout.
The gratitude comes spilling out when Dowler speaks of his days in football.
“I was 75 years old last week. I stayed in the NFL till I was 72. I was in pro football for most of my life; I was a pro football guy. Now my wife and I live in Richmond where my son is and we help out with his kids. That’s my life.
“It’s fortunate that I got to do something I love for a lifetime. I got great friends and family and I’ve got football to thank for all of that. I’ve got real fond memories. And it all started at CU.”