In 1968, Bob Kalsu was the Buffalo Bills’ rookie of the year. The next year he was an artillery officer in Vietnam.
Most other draftable pro athletes elected to serve in the reserves. Kalsu’s family and friends urged him to go that route. “I’m no better than anybody else… I gave ’em my word,” Kalsu said, referring to his promise, on joining ROTC, to serve on active duty. “I’m gonna do it.”
The Sports Illustrated profile of Kalsu is well worth reading any day, and especially on Super Bowl Sunday.
Word had gotten around the firebase that he had played for the Bills, but he would shrug off any mention of it. “Yeah, I play football,” he would say. What he talked about – incessantly – was his young family back home.
Grantland‘s “The Death of Bob Kalsu” describes the toll of his loss on that family.
For almost 30 years, Bob Jr. felt partially responsible for his father’s death. As the story went, Bob Kalsu was killed while running out to meet a helicopter that might be bringing the news of his son’s impending birth.
It took this NFL documentary to relieve Kalsu’s son of that burden.
If you’re watching today’s game with friends and family, take a moment to honor this devoted friend and family man, who wore both his professional uniforms with distinction.