THE NAVIGATION TOOLS TO THE CONTENT OF THE WEB SITE ARE AT THE TOP OF THIS SCREEN. THE SITES ARE "QUE" , "FAN", "TLSN", "SPORTS", "ARTICLES", "ICONIC", "MISSIONS", "LOST TOO SOON", "SENTRY", AND "DONATE".
Greg Ploetz's Story
Please visit the Articles site and click on "professional writers" then click on Terry Frei to see two articles about Greg published in the Denver Post.
Bobby Callison And Greg Ploetz- Bonded Friends For Life
Greg's story is now part of the Concussion Legacy Foundation. The link to the site is listed below.
Greg Ploetz Lithograph signed by 285 DKR players.
David Richardson (Greg's roommate during college) wrote to his teammates the following letter:David Richardson, presents Deb Ploetz with the $14,000 check from the UT Lettermen Support Group in Arvada in 2014.
MOST OF YOU KNOW I REPRESENTED LSG AND DELIVERED THE CHECK FOR $14,000 TO GREG PLOETZ. BY NOW, MOST OF YOU HAVE READ THE ARTICLE WRITTEN BY TERRY FREI FOR THE DENVER POST CONCERNING GREG’S SITUATION AND THE POSITIVE IMPORTANT ROLE THAT MEDICINAL MARIJUANA HAS PLAYED IN GREG’S LIFE.
ALL THE TEXAS NURSING HOMES WOULD NOT TAKE CARE OF GREG UNLESS THEY COULD KEEP HIM MEDICATED AND CALM. DEB WAS AT HER WITS END UNTIL SHE FOUND THIS PLACE IN COLORADO AND HEARD ABOUT THE MARIJUANA TREATMENT.
WHAT AN EYE OPENER IT WAS FOR ME AS AN OUTREACH MINISTER FOR VICTORY BAPTIST CHURCH. NOT THAT I APPROVE OF IT IN THE RECREATIONAL SENSE BUT IT DOES HAVE SOME VALUE MEDICALLY. AFTER ALL, WHERE DID WE FIRST GET OUR MEDICINES? FROM PLANTS.
OVER ALL IT WAS A VERY GOOD TRIP. GREG IS IN A BEAUTIFUL PLACE, THE MOUNTAINS ARE ONLY ABOUT 10 TO 15 MILES FROM HIM. HE CAN GO OUT IN THE BACK YARD AND ENJOY THE BEAUTY. THERE WAS STILL SNOW ON THE MOUNTAINS. HIS NURSING FACILITY IS MORE LIKE A HOME THAN CARE INSTITUTION. THE WORKERS ARE NICE, AND THEY ARE GENUINELY CONCERNED ABOUT THEIR PATIENTS.
WHEN GREG FIRST ARRIVED HE WOULD HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH ANYONE AT THE NURSING FACILITY BUT NOW WITH THE HELP OF MEDICINAL MARIJUANA HE HAS CALMED DOWN AND HIS ANGER HAS SUBSIDED.
I WAS HIS ROOMMATE, BUT GREG DOES NOT KNOW ME. HE KNOWS DEB AND THEIR DOG BUTTER.
GREG KNOWS HE IS NOT AT HOME BUT HE WANTS TO BE. THIS FRUSTRATES HIM AND HE CAN STILL GET AGITATED VERY QUICKLY. HE GOT UPSET WITH ME WHEN I TOOK A PICTURE OFF THE WALL TO ASK HIM ABOUT IT. HE LOVES HIS ART; I ASKED HIM ABOUT THE ARTWORK HANGING IN HIS ROOM AND HIS EYES LIT UP AND HE EVEN SMILED. HE LIKES TO WALK OR PACE. HE DOESN'T TALK MUCH, JUST MAKES SOUNDS. DEB SAID THAT SOMETIMES AFTER SHE HAS GIVEN HIM HIS DRUGS HE CAN PUT A SENTENCE TOGETHER.
IT'S VERY HARD FOR DEB TO GET HIM TO DO ANYTHING. SHE HAS TO MANIPULATE HIM AND THIS IS VERY HARD ON HER; SEEING HER HUSBAND IN SUCH A STATE. HE HAS LOST A LOT OF WEIGHT AND JUST DOESN'T LOOK THE SAME. THE DRUGS HAVE GIVEN HIM AN APPETITE AGAIN SO MAYBE HE WILL START GAINING THE WEIGHT BACK.
DEB ADMINISTERS HIS MEDICINE TO HIM IN THE MORNING AND AGAIN IN THE EVENING. SHE HAS A LICENSE TO BUY AND TO ADMINISTER THE “DRUG” THE NURSING HOME EMPLOYEES ARE EXCITED ABOUT HOW THE “DRUGS” HAVE HELPED GREG, AND THEY HOPE BE ABLE TO ADMINISTER THE DRUG TO THEIR PATIENTS IN THE FUTURE. THERE IS A TOTAL OF 10 MEN WHO RESIDE IN THE HOME.
HER LIFE IS BETTER, BUT NEEDLESS TO SAY HER SITUATION IS STILL VERY DIFFICULT. FROM MY OWN PERSONAL EXPERIENCE WITH MY DAD WHO HAD ALZHEIMER’S, I CAN TELL YOU THAT THIS IS HARDER ON THE CAREGIVER THAN THE PATIENT, BUT THE LONGHORN FAMILY HAS COME THROUGH AND MITIGATED A VERY DIFFICULT SITUATION.
PLEASE KEEP GREG AND DEBRA IN YOUR PRAYERS.
I WAS HONORED TO DELIVER OUR HEART FELT DONATION TO DEB. DEBRA AND TERRY FREI WERE OVERWHELMED WITH OUR OUTREACH. IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTION PLEASE CONTACT ME.
A total of $25,000 was raised by teammates on two fund drives
GREG PASSED AWAY BUT HIS LEGACY LIVES ON- By Billy Dale.
THE ROAD THAT GREG AND DEB PLOETZ TRAVELED SINCE GREG WAS DIAGNOSED WITH MIXED DEMENTIA IN 2009 IS A REFLECTION OF THE STRUGGLES THAT MANY OF OUR TEAMMATES AND THEIR FAMILIES HAVE EXPERIENCED WITH THIS DREADED DISEASE.
AFTER BEING DIAGNOSED WITH DEMENTIA, GREG DECIDED TO PAINT A TRIBUTE TO HIS TEAMMATES. THE COMPLETION OF THIS PAINTING IS A STORY OF HIS HEART HOLDING ON WHILE HIS MENTAL CAPABILITIES AND HAND-EYE COORDINATION DETERIORATED. THIS PAINTING WAS COMPLETED IN 2010, AND IT IS OBVIOUS THAT HE WAS STRUGGLING WITH DETAILS. HOWEVER, HIS EFFORTS WERE NOT ABOUT ART; THEY WERE ABOUT THE HUMAN SPIRIT WINNING BATTLES AGAINST THIS AGGRESSIVE OPPONENT. THIS PAINTING IS A SPECIAL AND PERSONAL GIFT FROM GREG PLOETZ TO HIS TEAMMATES--A VICTORY OF THE HEART OVER THE MIND.
GREG'S HEART WAS MY INSPIRATION TO TACKLE A PROJECT THAT WILL BE TOUGH TO COMPLETE WITHOUT THE SUPPORT OF COACH DARRELL K. ROYAL’S PLAYERS. THE GOAL IS TO HAVE THE PAINTING SIGNED BY 500 DKR PLAYERS AND SUPPORT STAFF. IF THE GOAL IS ACCOMPLISHED, IT WILL BE THE ONLY AUTOGRAPH RELATED ITEM WITH THIS MANY SIGNATURES OF DKR’S PLAYERS IN EXISTENCE. THERE ARE 285 AUTOGRAPHS TO DATE. THESE PLAYER DELIVERED 3 NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS AND 11 SOUTHWEST CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS.
THE LITHOGRAPH WILL BE AUCTIONED IN 2019 WITH ALL PROCEEDS DISTRIBUTED TO QUALIFYING LONGHORNS IN NEED OF FINANCIAL SUPPORT.
MAY GOD BLESS GREG, HIS FAMILY AND ALL OF OUR TEAMMATES AND THEIR FAMILIES WHO HAVE SUFFERED THROUGH TO THE END WITH THIS HORRENDOUS DISEASE.
Dr. Mark Akin and Billy Dale with Greg's Lithograph
Greg Ploetz finished this painting after his health problems were in full swing. Former teammate Billy Dale has gathered signatures of 285 DKR players from the Darrell Royal era on the lithograph.
Greg Ploetz contributions to Longhorn traditions represents a portal to the past that reminds Longhorn fans that heritage shapes the present and empowers the future.
THE NAVIGATION TOOL TO THE HISTORICAL PAGES ON THIS WEB SITE ARE AT THE TOP OF THIS SCREEN. THE SITES ARE "TLSN", "SPORTS", "GUEST WRITERS", "MISSIONS", "ARTICLES" , "LOST TOO SOON", AND "SENTRY".
“Click on the text denoted in red font on the side bar to visit other sites in this “article” grid
Article in Dallas Morning News- Kevin Sherrington in 2015
Greg Ploetz hasn’t played a football game in more than 40 years, but the scar still shows. An undersized All-Southwest Conference defensive tackle at Texas, he earned it. A “warrior,” one teammate called him. Now, at 65, Ploetz couldn’t so much as handle the crowd noise at the Big Shootout. Conversation confuses him. Walking is sometimes terrifying. In his tortured mind these days, a crack in the floor looms like a leap across a deep, dark crevasse.
Ploetz — pronounced Plets — suffers from what neurologists call “mixed dementia,” the probable result of head trauma from his days as a 5-11, 205-pound lineman at Sherman High and Texas. Doctors can’t tell his wife, Deb, if he’s a victim of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE, the progressive degenerative brain disease linked with multiple concussions, harrowing news reports and a lawsuit against the NFL.
They won’t know for sure until after he’s dead. A year, maybe two.
If there’s any difference between Ploetz and the more than 4,000 plaintiffs in the NFL suit, it’s that he never played pro football. His last game was the ’72 Cotton Bowl, against Penn State.
Other than occasional financial assistance from former Texas teammates, no help is coming to the Ploetzes, as it may yet for the NFL plaintiffs. Texas isn’t liable. Neither is the NCAA. No union push by Northwestern can help them at this point, either.
At least 60 former college players with similar stories have filed lawsuits against the NCAA without success. Even if they’d cashed in, Deb wouldn’t have been a party to it.
“Greg chose to play football,” she says, “so I don’t really hold people liable for the choice he made.”
Talk to players of Ploetz’s generation, and this is the answer you get: I’d do it all over again.
Ploetz was no different until he realized just how different he is.
“Five years ago, he never wanted to recognize that football did this to him,” Deb says.
“The last two years, he stopped watching.”
Now he waits.
Ploetz is too young to die like this, for something he did in his youth, for honor he brought his school, his family, his memory. He didn’t understand the risk. No one of his generation did. If he played today, he’d have the benefit of concussion protocols and better health care. He could make an informed decision.
He might even be able to put it into words.
What do you do then with men like Greg Ploetz? Write it off as bad luck? Dismiss it as the Ploetzes’ problem? Call it a cautionary tale and leave it at that? Easy enough to do with these men, I suppose, until you hear one of their stories.
Ploetz chose football, not this: An artist, teacher and gentle soul kicked out of two memory care facilities and an adult day care center because of aggressive behavior. Darrell Royal once said he could depend on the size of Ploetz’s fight. Whatever else has been stripped from him, the fight remains.
The worst part is, before language and reason left him, he could see it coming.
“Deb, please help me,” he begged his wife. “I don’t want to live like this.”
Mike Dean has been inducted into the Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame and Longhorn Hall of Honor, but when Texas’ coaches came to Sherman his senior year, they were looking for Greg Ploetz.
Only 5-11 and 195 pounds in high school, thick in the neck and chest, son of a World War II fighter pilot, Ploetz was a “warrior,” Dean says. That mentality enabled him to start between Bill Atessis and Leo Brooks in Texas’ 1969 defensive line despite a hairline fracture in one ankle and the build of a short, squat safety.
"It’s a good feeling to have 257 pounds on one side of you,” Ploetz told The Dallas Morning News in the fall of ’69, “and 244 on the other.”
Ploetz more than held his own, particularly against the run. “He was a tackling machine,” says Dean, who started at offensive guard. “He’d run right through people.”
He was a classic ’60s paradox. A high school classmate, Dan Witt, called him quiet, wry, drawn to “artistic, iconoclastic, radical people and elements.” Julius Whittier, who in 1970 became the first black scholarship player at Texas, counted him among a handful of friends on the football team. Everyone liked Ploetz.
Probably didn’t hurt that he played so well. Ploetz was especially effective in the Big Shootout, recording six tackles in the win over Arkansas. It was nearly his last hurrah.
He sat out the ’70 season because he was academically ineligible, a byproduct of his girlfriend getting pregnant and the baby coming early.
“They didn’t know if he was going to make it,” Ploetz told Terry Frei in Horns, Hogs and Nixon Coming, “so I called Fred Bomar.”
Father Bomar baptized Chris Ploetz in the hospital. He was accompanied by Freddie Steinmark. The little Texas safety had already lost a leg to cancer and would die in 1971. Frei wrote that Ploetz couldn’t talk about his son, who survived the ordeal; the baptism; or Steinmark, Chris’ godfather, without choking up.
The summer of ’71, Ploetz was back in Austin, working his way through school, when Texas coaches recruited him again. He asked to sleep on it. That fall, he was All-SWC.
Other than the ankle injury, nothing on Ploetz’s chart hints at any problems to come. Deb says that, in high school, he once wandered to the wrong sideline. Teammates steered him to the huddle and his place in the line.
Greg Ploetz: More On Former Texas Longhorn Fighting Dementia In Colorado
THE NAVIGATION TOOL TO HISTORICAL PAGES ON THIS WEB SITE ARE AT THE TOP OF THIS SCREEN. THE SITES ARE "TLSN", "SPORTS", "GUEST WRITERS", "MISSIONS", "ARTICLES" , "LOST TOO SOON", AND "SENTRY"
I wear his College Hall of Fame ring proudly and even though Dad went to Heaven 11 years ago his memories and love is felt by our family every day.
Roy A. Bechtol
My father, Hub Bechtol, is the only 4 time All American in the history of football as he was Little All American at Texas Tech his freshman year when Tech was a two year school in 1943.
Dad then transferred to The University of Texas with Y.A. Tittle, Bobby Lane, and Rooster Andrews in 1944 (during the war when you didn’t loose eligibility with transfer) and earned consensus All American for the next three years 1944, 1945, 1946 and achieved many school and conference records including the most catches in the Cotton Bowl Game(12) which lasted for many years. LSU convinced My Godfather, Y.A. Tittle, he would never beat out Bobby Lane so he left Texas before he started his first class his freshman year.
Dad was drafted in the first round by the NFL and after negotiating with the Pittsburg stealers for top draft choice and signing bonus of $1250 opted for the Baltimore Colts as first round choice for a whopping $1500 signing bonus and top salary of $10000/year with free game tickets.
He played for four years in the National Football League with the Colts and his quarterback and roommate was Y.A. Title.
Coach Tom Landry signed with the Longhorns in 1946
Dad broke his jaw his junior year and wore a leather helmet with a steel nose plate(which we have in our home) for 7 games with his jaw wired shut and was consensus All American playing all those games with a broken jaw. That’s a testament to his toughness and tenacity.
My father was enshrined in to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1991 and I was proud to sit at the table with Dad, Bobby Bell,Pat Sullivan and Ed Mariano among others who were honored that year.
Statistical information about Hub Bechtol
Hub was the first consensus All-American from UT.
He actually started his college career at Texas Tech, but he joined the Navy during the war and after the war decided to attend Texas. He is one of only 2 players in the History of Longhorn Football to be named as All-American three times.
- All-American and All-SWC from 1944-46
- Led UT with seven touchdowns in 1945
- Caught nine passes for 138 yards and was named Co-MVP in 1946 Cotton Bowl win vs. Missouri
- Formed great passing combination with quarterback Bobby Layne
- First-round draft pick of Pittsburgh Steelers
- Played for NFL Baltimore Colts from 1947-49
- Member of National Football Foundation Hall of Fame
- Founder of Austin's little league baseball program
- Member of the College Football Hall of Fame
My Memories of Greg Ploetz and Mike Dean
By Tommy Lucas proud member of the 1959 football recruiting class
My Memories of Greg Ploetz and Mike Dean
By Tommy Lucas proud member of the 1959 football recruiting class
The Sherman Boys and the Cleburne boys are prototypical Royal football players- Under 200 Pounds, quick, Instinctive, and Motivated to Win!
After the football season of 1962, I was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the 19th round as a prospective Tight End or Outside Linebacker. I attended their training camp at Thousand Oaks, California in July of 1963 where I survived several squad cuts but did not make their final team roster. Soon after returning to my hometown of Houston, Texas, I was hired as an assistant football coach at Abilene Cooper High School but my stay in Abilene was short lived because the Head Coach Clovis Riley was hired as the Athletic Director and Head Football Coach at Sherman High School in Sherman, Texas.
Coach Riley asked me to go with him as the Defensive Coordinator even though I was 24 years old and just 2 years of experience.
Our first year at Sherman resulted in a 6-4 season and really not that bad because our team was young and the district that we were in was a tough one consisting of teams from Garland, Richardson, Mesquite, Carrolton, Highland Park, Denton, and Denison. The following year we began the season with a loss to an old rival Gainesville HS but the team responded with 8 straight wins, however, we lost our last district game to another old rival Denison HS. In those days only the district champion went to the playoffs so we were out and the Yellow jackets were in but it was still one of the best seasons that the Bearcats had in some time.
A large part of our success was due to a strong senior class that included two outstanding players by the name of Greg Ploetz and Mike Dean
On offense Greg was the right guard and Mike was the left guard and defensively Greg was the left inside linebacker and Mike was the right inside linebacker. We employed the same 6-2 defense that Coach Mike Campbell established at the University of Texas in the early 1960's and as their position coach I was of the opinion that they could play at the next level. They were our leading tacklers making plays from side line to side line however; I became disappointed because only a few college coaches were somewhat interested in offering them a scholarship. (TCU and North Texas)
So I decided to give Coach Bill Ellington a call as he was the Freshman Coach and Assistant Athletic Director in order to possibly stir up some interest as I really wanted them to be a Longhorn. After our opening conversation in which I explained my reason for calling he asked about their size and I said well they are about 6 ft. and weigh about 185 lbs. but they play much bigger than their size. I said I think UT should take a look at them based on their play and not their size and Coach Ellington agreed.
The next week Pat Patterson the recruiter for the Dallas area came by and asked to see some game film so I set him up with a projector and our last 4 games. After my last class of the day, I went by the stadium and Coach Patterson was still there. He quickly told me that he was impressed with Greg's play and that he had heard about him from some of the coaches in our district but then he said I also like the Dean kid and I would like to talk to both of them about coming to Austin for an official visit to our campus. Pat then said, "l think we may have a scholarship for those two".
Well as they say in the movies, the rest is history! Greg Ploetz became NOT an outstanding linebacker for the Longhorns but instead he became an outstanding defensive tackle in the Texas split 4 defenses going against much bigger offensive lineman but seldom losing one on one battles. He overcame a size disadvantage with his strength and fierce determination.
Mike Dean became a starting offensive guard and was according to many to be undersized for his position. He had to block defensive lineman that had a size advantage but he proved many times that determination plus strength and the will to win can overcome a lot of minuses. He is Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame member because of his outstanding performance versus an All American defensive tackle from Notre Dame and he is also a member of the Longhorn Hall of Honor.
Mike and Greg will always be very special to me and I am proud to say that I was one of their coaches. They exemplify my belief that lack of size can often be overcome by the will to succeed and having unrelenting determination.
BOBBY GAMBLIN SAYS:
"GROWING UP IN STAMFORD, TEXAS IF YOU GOT AN OFFER TO PLAY FOOTBALL, YOU WENT TO THE UNIVERSITY OF OKLAHOMA. BOB HARRISON, AN OU ALL AMERICAN AND MIKE MCCLELLAN WHO HAD A GOOD CAREER IN THE NFL WERE A COUPLE OF NAMES ONE MIGHT REMEMBER. BOB BLAIK, THE SON OF THE LEGENDARY ARMY’S COACH WAS AN ASSISTANT COACH AT OU AND RECRUITED ME. HE HAD MANY OF THE SAME QUALITIES OF HIS FATHER – RED BLAIK; THEREFORE, IT SEEMED SO NATURAL FOR ME TO FOLLOW THE STAMFORD EXODUS NORTH ACROSS THE RED RIVER.
ON JANUARY 1, 1960, WHILE STILL IN HIGH SCHOOL AND SITTING IN MY LIVING ROOM WATCHING THE COTTON BOWL, I WAS NOT AWARE DAVID KRISTYNIK WOULD BE SUCH A CONTRIBUTING INFLUENCE IN A 180º SWING MY LIFE WOULD TAKE.
SYRACUSE HAD COMPETED A PASS, BUT YOU GUYS STOPPED THE RECEIVER ONE YARD SHORT OF THE GOAL LINE. WHILE SYRACUSE WAS IN THE HUDDLE, THE TV CAMERA FOCUSED ON THE TEXAS DEFENSIVE LINE. ENVELOPED IN THE CENTER OF THE SCREEN WAS THIS “CENTER OF GRAVITY CHALLENGED” (SQUATTY BODY) TEXAS PLAYER MOVING UP AND DOWN THE TEXAS DEFENSIVE LINE EXTORTING HIS TEAM MATES TO HOLD SYRACUSE OUT OF THE END ZONE. YOU WERE AN AMALGAMATION OF A CHEERLEADER, AN EGYPTIAN SLAVE DRIVER, AND A GENERAL SHERMAN IN THE MIDDLE OF HIS MARCH TO THE SEA. YOU WERE AGITATED, ANIMATED, AFLAME – TO SAY THE LEAST.
FROM THE PHOTOGRAPH BELOW, IT APPEARS KRISTYNIK’S, DEMEANOR IS EVIDENT, CONSISTENT, AND UNIFORM - BEFORE, DURING, AND EVEN AFTER A PLAY.
David Kristynik gets angry and motivates the Longhorns
I HAD NEVER SEEN A HOTTER COMPETITIVE FIRE BURNING IN ANYONE’S GUT. MAN, I WANTED TO BE PART OF THAT PROGRAM. AT TIME, I DID NOT KNOW MUCH ABOUT COACH ROYAL AND NOTHING ABOUT COACH CAMPBELL’S INFAMOUS HULL DRILL. EVEN IF I HAD KNOWN THE LENGTHS COACH ROYAL COULD PUSH A PLAYER; OR THE DEMANDS OF THE HULL DRILL, TEXAS HAD ME THE MOMENT YOU STEPPED IN FRONT OF YOUR TEAMMATES ON THAT ONE YARD LINE.
SO DAVID, CONGRATULATIONS ON THIS WELL-DESERVED HONOR AND THANK YOU FOR YOUR PASSIONATE COMPETITIVE DRIVE, YOUR LOVE OF THE LONGHORNS, AND YOUR LEADERSHIP BOTH ON AND OFF THE FIELD.
1961, 1962, 1963