If not for the excellent academic and athletic experience I had at Bucknell, I don't think I could have done any of this.
Some professional athletes aimlessly search for something meaningful when their playing days are done. Prudence, foresight and commitment enabled Sam Havrilak '69 to avoid that pitfall.
After Bucknell, where he majored in biology, Havrilak planned to attend dental school at the University of Pittsburgh. Those plans changed when the Baltimore Colts drafted him. He was an NFL long shot but spent six years in the league, the first five with Baltimore.
Havrilak played halfback, fullback, wide receiver, tight end, safety, was on special teams and even saw action as Baltimore's third-string quarterback. While his versatility was a huge asset, Havrilak was never a lock to make the team and had to win his roster spot each season. So in 1971, Havrilak, with an eye toward his future, enrolled part time at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry. After finishing his football career in 1974 with the New Orleans Saints, he became a full-time student, and graduated in 1976.
"It was kind of a round-about way," Havrilak says, "but it was the best decision I ever made in my academic career, because it gave me something to do and something to transition into after I finished playing.
"If not for the excellent academic and athletic experience I had at Bucknell, I don't think I could have done any of this."
Today, Havrilak works as a dentist in the Baltimore suburb of Parkville, Md., and his patients include several former Colts teammates. Football memorabilia, mostly donated by patients, decorate his waiting room. But while his Colts experience is a proud part of his past, Havrilak says it is by no means a marketing tool for his practice.
"I'm a professional, and I let my work speak for itself," he says. "I don't want people to come here just because I played professional football. I want them to come here because they're satisfied with my dental skills."
The Colts left Baltimore for Indianapolis after the 1983 season. Havrilak played toward the end of the Colts' glory days - he was on the 1970 Baltimore team that beat the Dallas Cowboys 16-13 in the Super Bowl - on teams older fans still treasure.
"My son, Michael, is often asked if I am his father. People don't forget," Havrilak says. "I don't get visually recognized very much, but because my name is a bit unusual, people recognize me for that."
Posted May 2014
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