Remembering Wyoming Football Legend Conrad Dobler
LARAMIE -- It's only fitting that Conrad Dobler got to see one last dominant offensive-line performance. Surrounded by his family, the former Wyoming standout and self-made "Dirtiest player in NFL history" witnessed his favorite team, the Kansas City Chiefs, hoist the Lombardi Trophy during his final hours.
Dobler died Monday in Pueblo, Colo., his children announced via social media. He was 72.
The larger-than-life figure -- both on and off the field -- played 10 NFL seasons, including six with the St. Louis Cardinals, the team that selected him in the fifth round of the 1972 draft. Dobler made three straight Pro Bowl appearances from 1975-77.
In 1975, the Cardinals offensive front gave up just eight sacks, then an NFL record.
Undersized at just 6-foot-3, 254 pounds, the Chicago native leg-whipped, bit and clubbed his way through the rigors of pro football at the offensive guard spot.
“I wasn’t going to let them touch the quarterback,” Dobler said proudly in June of 2019. “I did whatever I needed to do to make sure that didn’t happen.”
Dobler also suited up for the New Orleans Saints (1978-79) and Buffalo Bills (1980-81).
Despite offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Cal-Berkeley, Utah, and many others, the Twentynine Palms, Calif., product chose Wyoming.
“Wyoming was the king of the WAC back then,” he said. “They were the best. That’s why I went there.”
The Cowboys were coming off an appearance in the Sugar Bowl when Dobler arrived in Laramie in 1968. UW went from one of the up-and-coming programs in the nation to obscurity with one swift decision. Then head coach Lloyd Eaton dismissed 14 African-American players for asking to wear black armbands to protest racist policies of the Mormon Church, which owned conference rival BYU.
Dobler had grand thoughts that he might have a real shot at a national championship. The WAC title, he said, was already in the bag the day he signed.
“The Black 14 was a bad deal,” Dobler said in 2019. “We couldn’t recruit any black guys after that. My stance on it was, let them wear the damn things. It wasn’t hurting anyone. We went out there and crushed BYU that day (40-7 in 1969), but it wouldn’t last. We were never the same."
Dobler said the current players were tasked with a vote to whether the remaining black teammates that stayed at UW could rejoin the team.
"That was b------. Of course," he added. "They can come back. They were good guys. What we didn’t know at the time was that the blacks were getting threatened by black groups on campus. Some of them didn’t even want to protest.
“We were a better team with them.”
Wyoming finished that season 6-4 overall, dropping its last four games of the regular season. The Pokes bottomed out at 1-9 the following season and Eaton resigned. Dobler spent his final campaign on the high plains playing on both sides of the ball. New head coach Fritz Shurmur made the move. Dobler responded.
“Shurmur moved me to the defensive line, so I knew he thought I was pretty good,” he said. “He always put the best players on defense. But I didn’t think anyone was helping get me to the NFL. I didn’t even see that as an option.”
Dobler never earned All-Conference honors in Laramie, but he was named an All-WAC Academic performer.
"I take a lot of pride in that," he said.
7220sports.com spent a day with Dobler back in June of 2019 at his daughter's home in Pueblo, Colo. You can read that feature right HERE.
Dobler was also named the best player in Wyoming history to ever wear the No. 73 in our "Which Wyoming Cowboy wore it best" series. You can check that out right HERE.
Also, read about how golf legend Phil Mickelson helped the Dobler family after tragedy right HERE.
I also penned a column after my lone meeting with Dobler titled: "Dobler gave his life to football. Was it worth it?" You can read that right HERE.
Make sure to check out our Conrad Dobler photo gallery below:
Remembering Former Wyoming Football Legend Conrad Dobler
University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players
- University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players