Football Hall of Famer delivers powerful message
Jim Langer became a National Football League Hall of Famer because of his ability to be quick, direct and powerful.
When Langer spoke to the assembly of high school athletes and parents at St. Croix Central High School last Monday, he again was quick, direct and powerful.
Langer is best remembered as the center of the 1972 Miami Dolphins team, the only team in NFL history that went through an entire regular season and post-season undefeated.
Langer is the epitome of the small town success story. He attended Royallton High School in Minnesota, where there were 25 students in his graduating class. He was not heavily recruited when he went to South Dakota State University. No NFL team thought he was worth drafting. He signed a rookie free agent contract with the Miami Dolphins.
Then, just as he had done to be a success at the high school and college levels, Langer outworked the people in front of him. He not only became a starter, he became one of the best centers the NFL has ever seen. In 1987, six years after he retired as a player, Langer was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
In the 1972 perfect season, Langer played every offensive down in all 17 games as the Miami Dolphins completed their perfect season.
Langer had a blunt message for the Central athletes and parents in his brief speech.
"I still think sports is the greatest teacher, to learn to get through trials and tribulations," Langer told the crowd. "I didn't believe in peer pressure, I still don't. I believe in doing things the old fashioned way, by working your tail off."
Langer said high school students should face consequences when they don't obey rules. He said in World War II, 19-year-olds were flying fighter planes.
"I'll be damed if 16 and 17 year olds can't know the rules," he said.
Playing pro sports hasn't changed Langer. He works 60-hour weeks at a trucking company he owns. He helps coach the SDSU football team. Instead of attending this year's Pro Football Hall of inductions on Aug. 2, he went fishing with his son on Lake Mille Lacs.
Langer didn't get rich playing football either. In Miami's perfect 1972 season, Langer had a contract of $26,000.
So how did Central get a Hall of Fame athlete to speak at their meeting. Langer's daughter, Carrie, happens to be married to John Hawkins and the couple resides in Roberts. During a sporting event last winter, Lory Hawkins, John's father, asked athletic director Warren Van Ranst if the school would ever be interested in having Langer come in as a speaker. Lory spent 16 years on the Central Board of Education and is always on the lookout for ways to help the District. It was decided that this meeting, at the start of a new sports year, would be the ideal time to have Langer give an inspirational speech.
The main purpose of this meeting was to cover the athletic code and athletic procedures with the Central athletes and parents.
New Central athletic director Nic Been handled the coverage of the athletic code. He told the gathering that Central does have strong standards. Athletes are required to be in school for all of their classes if they intend to participate in Continued from Page 1B
athletic events that night. Any first violation relating to alcohol, tobacco or drugs will cost the athlete 20 percent of their season and counselling must be attended. A second violation means loss of extracurricular privileges for one calendar year.
Also during the meeting, academic honors for the spring season were announced. Van Ranst came out of retirement to give out the awards as his final duty as athletic director.
Receiving the academic awards for the spring season were:
Girls Track: Ann Olson
Boys Track: Isaac Lindahl
Softball: Catherine Redmon
Golf: Tie -- Randall Pfeiffer and Jonathan Bonte
Baseball: Brady Hartung
Top Team Average: Girls Track
Hartung won the academic honor for his ninth straight term. This is the third straight spring term that the girls track team has had the highest team grade point average.