Happy to swap Bills for bears
Former Colts offensive lineman fondly recalls his team ‘family’ but not the hits
He lives in a log house in the wilds of Montana, where grizzlies roam, streams run clear and cellphones seldom work. That’s fine with Bob Van Duyne.
“I’ll die here,” the onetime Colts offensive lineman said. But not yet. There is game to hunt, firewood to split and more than one mountain to climb. Fit and hearty at 64, Van Duyne hiked17 miles one day last week in the high country near his home outside Kila (pop. 392). In July, he trekked three days through Yellowstone National Park on a fishing trip while carrying a 60-pound pack. Next up: a 19-mile hike through the Grand Tetons in Wyoming that will take him to a dizzying 10,700 feet.
Clearly, Van Duyne still has his vigor. Three times on these jaunts, he has been charged by grizzlies — folks call him “the bear magnet” — who’ve come within 20 feet before retreating.
“You say, ‘Hey, bear’ — and they leave,” he said.
Better he should face bears than a blitzing linebacker, Van Duyne said. “At least the bears stopped.” For seven years, Van Duyne played for the Colts, at guard, tackle, center and even tight end. A10th-round draft pick from Idaho, he arrived in 1974 and started the following year, the first of the team’s three consecutive NFL division championships. His versatility kept Van Duyne around longer.
“My feet were fairly quick,” he said. “I wasn’t big [6 feet 4, 243 pounds], but back then they wanted the center and guards to stay small to run sweeps and traps. If we weighed in at more than 250 pounds, we got fined.”
Former Colt Bob Van Duyne savors his life in the Montana wilderness.