Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Bob Haack's NFL experience


Linfield Class of 1969

Came to Linfield from Dallas High School, Dallas, Ore.

6-5 and 265


“I was recruited to Linfield by Roy Helser to be a pitcher on the Linfield baseball team. I played JV baseball, but never played varsity baseball for Linfield. How I ended up on the football team is an interesting story. (See story at this link

“I also played JV basketball. And, I had a one-match experience as a heavyweight wrestler on the Linfield wrestling team. In that sport, one match was all the career I ever wanted.


“Contact with NFL scouts started after my sophomore year at Linfield with a scout representing several teams, including the Cowboys and Saints. There were scouts in touch with me during the spring following my junior season, too.


“I was drafted in the 17th round (419th pick) by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1969 NFL draft. I read that in the newspaper. But, when I got a telegram from the Eagles telling me the same thing, I knew it was for real. Coach Dick Stanfel of the Eagles came to the Linfield campus to meet me in Coach Rutschman’s office in mid-February 1969. Dick and I discussed money, bonuses and pre-season conditioning. Dick wanted to time me in the 40-yard dash. So, I went to Maxwell Stadium, changed my clothes and he timed me in 4.9 seconds. That confirmed what the Eagles had on paper for me: 4.8 to 5.0 in the 40. After that, I changed my clothes again and went back to Ad’s office and signed a contract for $21,500 with increment bonuses totally an additional $4,000 based upon making the Eagles’ roster.”


“First pre-season game in 1969 for the Eagles was in Portland in Civic Stadium vs. the Saints. Imagine, playing in Oregon for the Eagles against the Saints, with Joe Robillard on the Saints roster.  But, unfortunately, it did not happen for either of us. Joe and I were both released on the same day, two weeks prior to what would have been our pro debuts in Portland.


“When I graduated from Linfield in 1969 and signed with the Eagles was during the peak of the Vietnam War. Like any male students attending college during the war, I had a student deferment as long as I was a full-time student and passed my classes. It wasn’t long after I graduated from Linfield that I had my military pre-induction physical in downtown Portland. The Eagles provided me with an ‘out’ by getting me into the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. So, when I went to Philadelphia I attended military drills for several months in Pottstown, Pa. (about 40 miles from Philly) before reporting to Fort Lewis, Wash., in December 1969.

“By the way, Joe Robillard was also at Fort Lewis – I assume he was with the Louisiana National Guard -- about four weeks ahead of me in boot camp. We each got military leave at Christmastime and drove from Fort Lewis down I-5. Joe headed home to Hood River I was going home to McMinnville where my wife Nancy (Steinbach Haack) and I lived. As Joe and I made that I-5 trip, we shared our pro football and boot camp experiences.

“During that leave, Nancy gave birth to our daughter, Shannon, in the McMinnville hospital across the street from the Linfield campus. The hospital has since moved, but then it was where a Walgreen’s drug store is now.


“I was with the Eagles for three weeks. Then, I was released and picked up by the Redskins and traded back to the Eagles on the same day. And, on the same day the Eagles released me. The Eagles encouraged me to play for its Pottstown Firebirds farm team and promised it would keep tabs on me and bring me up to the Eagles if and when things changed. I did play for the Firebirds and the team won the ACFL (Atlantic Coast Football League) in 1969. One of our victories was over the Hartford, Conn., Knights. Two players for the Knights were John Lee and Ed Griffin, my former Linfield football teammates.


“I realized very quickly that I was on my own. I was being evaluated and judged on every drill and also in what I said or how I responded in ‘skull sessions’ between practices. At the end of the first week with the Eagles, about 40 draftees/free agents/and walk-ons were released. I was still there. Then, the veteran players came to camp and it really became interesting. The vets pushed us rookies, asking about our former college teams and the team mascots. At meal team rookies provided entertainment by singing our college alma maters. The Linfield Alma Mater was one of their favorites. When I got to ‘The Old Oak gives us courage, keeps us steadfast in on our way, For her we'll fight, With all our might…’ the vets would hoot and holler, pound the tables and have me start over again.


“Yes and no! The intensity and love of competing never changed. But, what was so remarkably different between Linfield and the pros was the physical size, strength and quickness of the surviving rookies and veterans. Yes, we at Linfield had many strong, quick and physical players that truly made our team outstanding in the Northwest Conference. But, when you are in an NFL training camp there are 75 players with outstanding qualities and characteristics. We’re competing for only 43 slots on the active roster. The survival and fear of not making the cut was very intense.


“Eagle training camp was at Albright College in Reading, Pa. The temperatures were in the upper 90s and the humidity was outrageous. We were having daily doubles practices. And, we were learning the offensive audible system called on the line. The offensive play could change. The formation and the motion and the snap count could change, too. All of this could change your blocking assignment. So, we’re sweating and exerting in intense practices. Plus, in our skull sessions we have our coaches demanding perfection regardless of our experience, peer pressure and hazing from the veterans. We were playing football at Linfield and in the NFL camp, but motivation is different. You are working extremely hard. It was Intense pressure beyond compare with what I had ever experienced.


“No. Several joked about Oregon in general. Was Oregon a state or a territory? I remember being asked if we Oregonians were still fighting and dealing with Native Americans over fishing and water rights.


“The biggest surprise was the shear and overwhelming talent from all over the country. The greatest disappointment was the negative comments from people, so called fans, going to and from training camp. The Eagles fans earned a nickname: ‘The Philadelphia Boo Birds!’ As bad as it was during the training camp, I was told during the previous Eagles season, when the team only won four game, the Boo Birds were really awful. But, despite all of this there were children wanting or autographs and wanting their photos taken with us.


“I was well prepared at Linfield under both head coaches: Paul Durham for three and Ad Rutschman my senior year. I truly ‘learned the game specifically’ with Rutsch. Every aspect of the game was broken down, learned, enforced with live drills and then executed in scrimmage. At Linfield, game day was a break from the rigorous schedule! In the NFL camp, your s playing ability was revealed with a scoring system of points, based upon the coaches’ review of each play. The pressure to perform in the NFL is intense.


“I truly believe I would have played in the NFL, based upon several on my teammates from Pottstown making it with the Eagles the follow season. I was the Pottstown starting strong tackle and played four games, prior to my career ending injury: fracturing three neck vertebrae/transverse process.


“Rarely! On occasion, with family and friends during the play-offs/championships I will watch the last quarter, if it's close. But, for the most part, for me watching the NFL is out of proportion to the realities of life.”


--Planning to play Wildcat baseball, how Bob Haack became a Linfield football standout. Read story:

- Bob almost attended Willamette University instead of Linfied. Read story:


-Bob “Igor” Haack in the Oct. 19, 1967, Linfield Review, drawing by former Linfield QB Bruce Priem

-Clipping from Feb. 6, 1969, Linews story by Chuck Humble about Bob Haack, Joe Robillard, NFL draft

-Clipping, perhaps from a 1969 issue of the McMinnville News-Register, about Bob Haack, Joe Robillard, NLF draft

-NFL Philadelphia Eagles 1969 Training Camp media guide cover and roster

-Linfield Sports Info publicity photos

-Bob Haack's Dallas, Ore., High School "D" athletic letter

-Willamette University "Barney Bearcat" mascot logo