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Discussion in 'Packer Fan Forum' started by ivo610, Dec 2, 2010.

  1. ivo610

    ivo610 Cheesehead

    Feb 13, 2010
    Karl Swanke has not played a down of professional football since 1986. But snapshots from his seven seasons as a Green Bay Packer offensive lineman are still vivid in his mind.

    Like Green Bay's 48-47 victory over the Washington Redskins on "Monday Night Football" on Oct. 17, 1983.

    "They came into Lambeau Field as Super Bowl champs and were real cocky," Swanke said. "It was a great atmosphere, and we beat them in a wild one.

    "It's still the most points scored in a Monday night game, and it's still thrilling to look back at that one."

    Or the time he scored his first and only touchdown in the NFL against the Atlanta Falcons in 1981. No. 67 reported as an eligible receiver and was a secondary option for quarterback Lynn Dickey.

    Swanke remembers his shining moment: "I block, fall down, then run the other way. . . . Everything was in slow motion. I could see every rotation of the football as it left Dickey's hand.

    "It was quite a thrill to score, but it went out the window because we lost the game (31-17)."

    Or the time television color analyst John Madden singled out his play against all-pro linebacker Lawrence Taylor of the New York Giants in the Packers 23-20 victory at Lambeau Field in 1985.

    "Madden said veteran linemen will do anything to stop defenders from getting to the quarterback," Swanke said. "I hit Taylor with an open hand to the face, and at that same instant, I kick him in the stomach with the back of my foot (as he's falling).

    "Taylor went down like a sack of potatoes. So Madden circles the hand to the face (on the Telestrator). Then he circles the foot to the stomach. I had a real good game, and Madden said I should get the game ball."

    Or the time Swanke, a standout javelin thrower in college, demonstrated his arm strength at a Packer practice session.

    "One time I told (tight end) Paul Coffman to run a down and out," Swanke said. "He said, 'How far?' I said, '75 yards.' I threw the javelin over 200 feet in college. I threw the football about 75 yards, and Paul caught it."

    Or the games played in less-than-ideal weather conditions.

    "In Green Bay, we played in elements, and games like that brought me back to when I was a kid playing in the mud and snow," Swanke said.

    Born in Elmhurst, Ill., in 1957, Swanke grew up a Packer fan. His father, Roy, hailed from Tigerton, Wis., and his great-grandparents settled in the Ripon area.

    Swanke came from a family of Packer fans, and he became enamored with the team on a family trip to training camp when he was 10.

    "I got autographs from Bart Starr, Forrest Gregg and Jerry Kramer," Swanke said. "I was hooked. Even when we moved out East, I rooted for the Packers. To play for them was a dream come true."

    The Swanke family moved to Connecticut, where his father eventually became president of Waring Blenders.

    Roy Swanke graduated from Purdue University and was a teammate of Hank Stram, who would later become head coach at Kansas City and lead the Chiefs against Green Bay in the first Super Bowl.

    Swanke idolized his successful father, and when Roy died unexpectedly when Karl was 14, he focused on sports and set a goal.

    "I tried to emulate him and show that I was more than just a dumb jock," Swanke said. "I wanted to get my degree and play professional football."

    His sports were football and track and field. Swanke won Connecticut state titles in the javelin and discus and also was a sprinter.

    He had scholarship offers to several national college football powers but chose Boston College for its football and academics.

    Like his father, Swanke had the aptitude and intelligence for a career in engineering. And his drive and work ethic in the weight room transformed his 220-pound high school frame into an NFL-caliber 250-plus physique.

    Swanke watched the 1980 NFL draft alone in his dorm room. It was not until nearly 6 p.m. that he received the phone call he had waited for all his life.

    "It was Bart Starr, and he said we're happy to have you as a Green Bay Packer," Swanke said.

    The sixth-round draft choice made the team and played mainly on special teams as a rookie during a disappointing 5-10-1 season.

    Swanke was a backup left tackle in 1981 and playing regularly before tearing up his left knee. He returned in the 1982 strike-shortened season as the starter but missed the Packers' playoff games as his knee required additional arthroscopic surgery.

    Swanke returned to form in 1983 and was a solid starter on the NFL's most prolific offense triggered by Dickey, James Lofton, John Jefferson and Coffman. The team mustered 8-8 records from 1983-'85 as Green Bay transitioned from the head coaching regimes of Starr to Gregg.

    In Gregg's first season of 1984, the 6-foot-6 Swanke was asked to bulk up his frame. He did it the old-fashioned way, drinking high-calorie shakes each night and eating plenty of his wife's Italian cooking.

    Steroids were not an option for Swanke. "I wouldn't mess with something so destructive," he said.

    After being a fixture at left tackle and protecting Dickey's blind side since 1982, Swanke was switched to center in 1986 as Ken Ruettgers, the team's top draft choice in 1985, took over the left tackle spot.

    Swanke shared time with Mark Cannon in the dismal 4-12 season. He also played hurt most of the season, earning the respect of his teammates and the Ed Block Courage Award.

    Known as one of the most intelligent linemen to ever don a Packers uniform, his teammates often referred to him as "Dr. Swanke" or "Professor Swanke."

    A quick learner, Swanke knew the responsibilities of all the offensive linemen and could play all four positions and tight end.

    "I played a lot of different positions," Swanke said. "I was tall and skinny and fast early in my career, so I was on every special teams unit there was. I enjoyed playing center because it was a chess match and mind games with the defense."

    Swanke announced his retirement due to his lingering knee issues in August 1987. He missed the sport and received interest from the Giants later in 1987 and the Bears in 1988 but failed team physicals.

    With his NFL career over, Swanke put his bachelor of science degree in physics to work. He joined IBM in 1989 and worked for the next 18 years in several departments (sales, marketing, project management, operations).

    He also has had a hand in some of IBM's signature projects, like designing computer chips that power Xbox and PlayStation game consoles, high-definition televisions and cell phones.

    A few years ago, Swanke left the corporate world to become a consultant but is returning to IBM in December as a business analyst.

    "The greatest blessing in my life is my wife and family," said Swanke. "Being a lifelong fan, I was fortunate to be part of the Packers tradition.

    "I played in the NFL against guys like Lawrence Taylor, Jack Youngblood and Lee Roy Selmon. Dreams do come true."
  2. Wood Chipper

    Wood Chipper Fantasy Football Guru

    Sep 30, 2010
    good article

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