FORT LEWIS, Wash., Feb. 11, 2005 Fort Lewis isn't necessarily where one would expect to find a former All-Pro defensive tackle, a guy who earned a Super Bowl ring, someone who knows John Madden better as his coach than as a network football analyst.
It's been a quarter-century since he traded his No. 60 Oakland Raiders jersey for civilian clothes, but Otis Sistrunk looked comfortable as he sat at his desk in the stadium he manages on post. The memorabilia on the wall behind him recall his glory days with the Raiders.
Sistrunk, who never played college football, was a 1974 All-Pro selection and was an integral part of the Madden-coached Oakland team that dispatched the Minnesota Vikings, 31-14, in Super Bowl XI, Jan. 9, 1977, at Pasadena, Calif.
All that is behind him now.
"In the NFL, we think we can play forever, but we can't," said Sistrunk, 60. "When I got out of football - I'll be honest with you - I didn't know what I was going to do."
Sistrunk lasted seven years in the NFL and spent a couple more as a beer salesman. One day when he was at Fort Benning on business, a lieutenant colonel asked if he'd be interested in coaching the post football team. His government career was born.
Instead, he spent a dozen years at Fort Benning, attending to the sports and fitness needs of soldiers.
"It was a challenge to me," Sistrunk said. "It was very interesting. I got a chance to know a lot of people."
When the opportunity presented itself, he transferred to Fort Lewis. He's been here ever since.
"I enjoy working at Fort Lewis," Sistrunk said. "I had opportunities to go overseas ... and different places, but I love Fort Lewis. When I go out of town, that's the first thing I tell people - I work at Fort Lewis."
Sistrunk does travel frequently to appear at charity golf events and to speak with school children. He had started going to Oakland area schools with Raider linebacker Phil Villapiano when both were still active players.
"We would go to the schools and talk to the kids about staying in school, don't do drugs, turn yourself into a lady or a man," Sistrunk said.
A decade later, when he was working in the gym at Fort Benning, Sistrunk was approached by a young, female second lieutenant who said she wanted to thank him. She told him that she was in one of those Oakland classrooms that he and Villapiano had visited. She wound up going to