Texans Defensive Line Coach Bill Kollar Once Wrestled a Bear
Bear wrestling was how you proved your manhood, or earned a few bucks. Back in the day.
When Bill O'Brien was assembling his staff that would lead the Houston Texans into the new post-Kubiak frontier, it was widely assumed he would bring in entirely his own staff, and truth be told, he would've been completely justified in doing so.
I mean, 2-14 is 2-14. Clean house. Nobody would've had a problem with that.
However, when the new coaching staff was announced, we found out that there was one assistant coach who would be remaining on board -- defensive line coach Bill Kollar. (Eventually, it wound up being two, as special teams assistant Bob Ligashesky kept his gig as well, but this is a Kollar-centric post.)
How much his retention had to do with merit (Kollar's units have been routinely pretty good in his time here) and how much it had to do with Kollar's being the position coach for the team's best player (as his rookie contract winds down) we don't know, and it probably doesn't matter at this point. Bill Kollar remains, and I was cool with that.
However, had I known he had such good stories, not to mention such great "bear wrestling" chops, I'd have been out on the median at Westheimer and the Loop with a sandwich board sign campaigning for O'Brien to keep him myself.
"What? Bear wrestling? Huh?" you're asking.
Yes, you heard me. Bear wrestling.
Kollar was recently inducted into the Senior Bowl Hall of Fame, as a player and a coach, and during his speech, he tells a great story. Back in the day, 40 years ago when he first broke in as a player with the Bengals, Kollar had to do what he could to make money outside of his playing job. Alternate streams of income were a necessity. Players would sometimes take second jobs, or accept any paid appearance they could.
Kollar tells a story of getting offered 50 bucks to "take a picture with a bear downtown" back then. I put that in quotes because what Kollar was told, while technically true, I suppose, entailed a whole lot more than just snapping a few Polaroids.
Here's the story...
Okay, here are my four favorite things about this story:
1. Inviting somebody to "come take a picture with a bear," and then winding up wanting to have that person wrestle the bear, are two very different things. Sounds like something a carny would do. If carnies were booking NFL players to wrestle wild animals back in the day, I think we need to get back to the good ol' days. J.J. Watt suplexing alligators needs to happen.
2. I love that Kollar lost the first fall to the bear, and came back and won the second fall, and wanted to decide the overall bout with a rubber match. Like an old-school WWF two-out-of-three falls match.
3. Sticking with the wrestling analogy, the carny promoter wanting to book Kollar with a Kodiak bear in Columbus has a very "independent rasslin' circuit" feel, with Kollar taking on a different type of bear in each backwoods town throughout Ohio.
4. Wait, the Senior Bowl has a Hall of Fame?
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