JUNE 3, 2017 – COVINGTON
Even though it has been over forty years since they walked the halls and dominated on the football field at Covington High School, the Vogler Brothers (Tim and Terry) are and always will be Buccaneers at heart.
That was never more evident than in Saturday’s annual Alumni Night where the Vogler Brothers were on hand with Tim being the guest speaker.
“This (Covington) is where it all started for us,” said Tim during his speech. “This is where were learned our values from our parents, coaches and teachers – values of working hard to achieve your goals.”
While in high school, the Voglers were arguably the most dominating football players in the history of the program and were key contributors as juniors on what many people consider the best football team in school history – the undefeated 1973 team that recorded eight shutouts and allowed just 24 points all season.
Still, the Voglers are uncomfortable with the label many give the 1973 team as the best team in school history.
“I don’t know about that – being the best team,” said Terry. “That’s a different generation than today or in the fifties and sixties. You can’t compare teams from different generations because of the changes in the training these kids do today. Back then we didn’t have a weight room like they have now. We lifted on our own in (Nick) Steele’s garage.”
Plus, the teams in those years never received the opportunity to prove their ultimate greatness against teams from the other side of the state.
“You know, it still bothers me that we didn’t get the opportunity to move on and play in the state tournament,” Tim said in reflection of the ’73 season. “At the time they only took one team per region and they picked another team. I really believe we were the best team in our division that year.”
“I don’t think any school in our division would have beaten us,” he said. “We were averaging something like two-fifteen to two-twenty on the lines with Big Doug (Doug Swartz), (Dave) Doseck, (Randy) Miller, Al (Grise) and Steve (Burelison). We had a good quarterback (Dave Dull), and Whitey (Foresythe) on the outside and our backs were really good. Defensively, teams couldn’t score against us, so I think we were pretty good.”
Throughout high school, the Voglers were heavily recruited by Ohio State and legendary coach Woody Hayes.
“Coach Hayes recruited us pretty hard,” Tim explained. “But our dad didn’t like him. It’s funny because Woody came to our house one night and our dad basically told him to leave. But Woody was persistent and ended up staying for a couple of hours.”
At the time their father didn’t want his boys going to Ohio State. Fortunately, he eventually relented.
“I think our dad didn’t think we were good enough to play at Ohio State,” Tim said. “Yeah, we were big by Covington standards, but you’re talking about Ohio State, man. That’s big time.”
Terry, though, had a different thought as to why his father was apprehensive about his boys playing at Ohio State.
“I think it’s because he just didn’t like Woody,” laughed Terry. “Woody was pretty intense.”
Whether it was youthful exuberance or a limited understanding of reality, the Vogler Brothers rolled the dice and committed to play football at Ohio State for Woody Hayes, despite their father’s concerns.
“It was the best decision we ever made – going to Ohio State,” Tim continued. “Maybe we were a little naive, but you have to have a goal, a plan and the commitment to follow through with the plan. That’s what I want the younger kids to understand. Set your goals and develop a plan to achieve those goals. Once you do that you have to be willing to follow through on your plan.”
The process worked for the Voglers as they earned playing time in the scarlet and grey uniform. Tim eventually was named as a team captain and attracted the attention of NFL teams.
“I never really thought about playing professional ball, but in my senior year there was a lot of talk about me,” Tim said. “I thought maybe I would get drafted, but that didn’t happen, so I had three teams looking at me as an undrafted free agent – the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Oakland Raiders and the Buffalo Bills.”
Tim ultimately chose the Buffalo Bills, which surprised family and friends.
“I chose the Bills and I had people telling me I was crazy,” he continued. “They were like, heck, why would you choose Buffalo over Pittsburgh and Oakland? I was like, well, the Bills suck and maybe I’ll get a chance to play. I was a center coming out of college and you know Pittsburgh had a guy named Mike Webster who wasn’t going anywhere and they just won a couple of Super Bowls. The Raiders, well they were the Raiders – had a couple of Super Bowls, so I figured my best chance to play was with the Buffalo Bills.”
Tim’s intuition was right as he made the team as an undrafted free agent and saw playing time on special teams and eventually was in the rotation as a backup offensive lineman.
But there was some frustration in the first half of an eventual eleven-year career.
“I had climbed up the depth chart and by my fourth or fifth year I felt I was better than the two guys playing at guard and the guy who was at center,” he explained. “I went in and told them that I felt I was better than those guys and they basically agreed with me, but they told me they needed me as a rotational guy because I could play all three positions and it allowed them to keep one less offensive lineman on the roster. So, I asked them to pay me as a starter since I’m better than the starter and they told me ‘No’. Basically, I couldn’t do anything about it or go anywhere else because the only way you could go to another team at the time was if you were traded or cut and they weren’t going to do either with me.”
The turning point came prior to Tim’s sixth season with former Hall of Fame player and new line coach Jim Ringo, who played for legendary coach Vince Lombardi in Green Bay.
“Ringo basically said the best players were going to play or you’re out of here and I was excited about that,” Tim continued. “I knew I was good enough to start in the league – if not in Buffalo than somewhere else. I ended up earning the starting job and started pretty much the rest of my career.”
All with Buffalo, which was on the cusp of greatness when Tim’s career came to an end due to an injury in 1989.
“Later in my career we had a lot of great players – Jim Kelly, Thurmond Thomas – all those guys,” he said. “We were close to getting to the show (Super Bowl) when my career ended. They (the Bills) made it to the Super Bowl the year after I had to retire.”
Still, there are no regrets for the Vogler Brothers as they remain very close and keep the town of Covington near to their hearts.
“We always like coming back here (to Covington),” Terry said. “We have a lot of great memories here.”