Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

U.S. Army Otis Sistrunk, Former NFL Star Glad to Serve Soldiers
Defend America News ^ | 02/11/05 | Bob Reinert / Northwest Guardian

Posted on 02/11/2005 5:04:28 PM PST by SandRat

DefendAmerica News - U.S. Army Otis Sistrunk

U.S. Army
Otis Sistrunk
Former NFL Star Glad to Serve Soldiers

By Bob Reinert / Northwest Guardian

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

Former All-Pro football player Otis Sistrunk has fashioned a second successful career as an Army civilian employee. Sistrunk runs Cowan & Memorial Stadium at Fort Lewis, Wash. U.S. Army photo by Bob Reinert

college, getting into ROTC and joining the Army.

"I've never seen her since," Sistrunk said. "We know we saved one person. There's probably more."

Sistrunk still uses his NFL background as currency at Fort Lewis. Some soldiers just want to sit on his office couch and talk football. Others have more pressing matters on their minds.

"Sometimes it helps if you sit here and talk to a young kid," Sistrunk said. "I tell young soldiers, 'If you've got a problem, come in here and talk to me. Try to stay out of trouble.' The longer you stay out of trouble, the longer you'll stay in the military."

"Otis has really shared his knowledge and experience with all," said Lonnie Meredith, head coach of the Army flag football team that defeated Navy in early December at Cowan Stadium on Fort Lewis. Sistrunk served as one of Meredith's assistant coaches.

"He's a true role model, one that you can access daily," Meredith said. "He has always helped everyone that approaches him with guidance and direction. He shares his ideas and thoughts with others."

"Otis has been a plus to the program not because of his playing football in the NFL, but because of his ability to work with a variety of people, from privates to generals," said Jerry Weydert, sports director at Fort Lewis, who lauded Sistrunk's "willingness to do what is needed to get the job done."

If the Oakland Raiders were once like a family to him, Sistrunk now is part of another one - the Army.

"I just love the military," Sistrunk said. "I look forward to coming here every day. It's been rewarding for me. You can't make everybody happy, but I try to do my best."

"We try to do the best we can to serve the soldiers. It's a challenge to me every day."

A simpler version of this page for printingPrinter-friendly Version
Email a copy of this page to a friend or colleagueEmail A Copy

TOPICS: Extended News; Foreign Affairs; US: Washington
KEYWORDS: army; football; nfl; oaklandraiders; soldiers; superbowlxi
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first previous 1-2021-23 last
To: SandRat

Alex Karras came up with that line. Made them both stars. Nice to see Sistrunk doing well. Even if he was a Raider.

21 posted on 02/11/2005 7:41:19 PM PST by stop_fascism
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: stop_fascism
Alex Karras came up with that line.

And how many can say they remember the moment? Yes, I do! The actual moment!

22 posted on 02/11/2005 8:13:45 PM PST by dr_lew
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: dr_lew

I thought the "University of Mars" comment came about on a cold day when steam was rising off his bald head, as he sat on the bench.

23 posted on 02/11/2005 10:21:01 PM PST by Burma Jones
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first previous 1-2021-23 last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson