A Tiger in Time

1 decade 11 months 4 weeks ago Sunday, October 21 2007 Oct 21, 2007 Sunday, October 21, 2007 10:42:47 PM CDT October 21, 2007 in Tiger Talk

He's one of the all time greats when it comes to Missouri football. He stepped away from the Pro football spotlight a quarter century ago. Roger Wehrli entered the Professional Football Hall of Fame this year. Hard to believe he never thought he'd play the sport.

"Actually I thought I would play basketball. I talked to more colleges about basketball than football. From a small town, I enjoyed basketball more than football in high school," said former Missouri defensive back Roger Wehrli.

But it's safe to say Dan Devine made a good decision when he recruited Wehrli to play for the Tiger football team back in 1965.

"Mizzou was the only one interested in football. I think after I ran in the state track meet they got interested in me a little more and offered me the scholarship. The only major scholarship that I had," said Wehrli.

He played defensive back and return punts.

"It was a big jump and I had no clue if I was going to make it especially be a starter, but that sophomore year they said I'd be starting my sophomore year. So, things went well," remembered Wehrli.

Wehrli ended his college career in style, when the Tigers played Alabama in the 1968 Gator Bowl.

"It seemed like we were the visiting team and they had more publicity than we did. We had a real good team a great defense and we dominated the game," said Wehrli.

A 35-10 Gator Bowl Championship. Wehrli picked off a pass and he finished his career as an All-American. Mizzou retired his #23.

"You knew the game plan. You knew what the offense was going to try to do to you because of the films that you watch. You study the films and just try to be the best athlete that you can," said Wehrli.

His NFL career in St. Louis lasted until 1982. He picked off 40 passes in 14 NFL seasons. This summer he entered the Hall of Fame.

"In that last year, I made the final 15. So, there was always hope. I was waiting for that phone call and this year it came. So it was a thrill of a lifetime," said Wehrli.

And another thrill this Tiger season when Wehrli took his place as the Grand Marshal of the homecoming parade.

"Coming back here and being honored as the Grand Marshal is icing on the cake. Kind of like I say, full circle and back to where I started," said Wehrli.

Wehrli's 23 jersey is retired twice former Tiger Johnny Roland wore the same number.

He still holds the Missouri record for most interceptions in a season and in a game.

Wehrli and his wife Gayle live in St. Charles. He comes to a few Tiger games each season and watches them on TV whenever they're on.

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