Mark Koncar was all about respect.
Growing up, the mellow Koncar wanted was a chance to play football for Utah. That was his dream. At Murray High, 1971, he was a prep All-America linebacker and was included among the top 25 high school players in the country by Letterman Magazine. He also had a promising baseball career as a left-handed pitcher.
"When I was in high school, I wanted to go to Utah," said Koncar. "Coach Bill Meek was there. I guess he didn't want me. I never even saw or met coach Meek. Colorado showed a sincere interest in me. That still amazes me. But I loved the Boulder campus, and they showed they really wanted me. They also said I could play baseball. I played for coach Irv Brown through my junior year."
So, what did Koncar do? The 6-foot-5. 268-pounder went to Colorado and earned first team All-America honors for the Buffaloes, 1975, and was the No. 1 draft choice of the Green Bay Packers. He also played baseball at Colorado and was named to the All-Big Eight team as a first baseman his junior year.
"However, it was a little bit silly for me to pursue baseball my senior year after being selected No. 1 by Green Bay," added Koncar. Koncar's nine-year National Football League career was plagued by injuries.
"I made the All-Rookie team and my second year started to make the progress that was expected from of me. And also, what I expected from myself," explained Mark. "Then, in the first preseason game of my third year, I blew my knee out and had to have surgery. It was a wasted year. But I didn't get down on myself. I really was enthused for the next season and suffered a fractured leg. However, I still started 14 of 16 games that year."
His injury bug wasn't through, however.
"In my fifth year with the Pack, I suffered an Achilles tendon injury. Sometimes an injury like that can ruin a pro career," explained Koncar. "I guess in a way I was fortunate. I started the the first preseason game the next year and actually came back prematurely on it. In the long run, it was the wrong thing for me to do.
"You can't play that game when one part of your body isn't strong. You overcompensate for the part of the body which isn't strong and it throws you timing and everything else off."
Koncar finished his career with the Houston Oilers. He was traded in 1982.
"I had actually driven 24 hours from Salt Lake City to Green Bay, and coach Ed Bart already knew about the trade. He could've let me know sooner, but he didn't. It ended up all right, because I wasn't happy with my situation in Green Bay. Still, when you're traded you're still shocked. But that's the nature of the business. It gave me a chance to play with some great Houston players, like Gifford Nielsen, Earl Campbell, and two great wideouts — James Lofton and John Jefferson. It was great to be a lineman for Campbell, whom I considered was the best running back on the planet during his time."
After Koncar retired from the Oilers, he worked as an assistant coach with the Memphis Showboats of the U.S. Football League (1986) for one year, and also, helped one year at his alma mater, Murray High, (1985), for his friend, Dale Pherson.
MOST MEMORABLE MEMORY? "There was a lot of memories during my career. Being named first team all-American at Colorado, after not getting an offer from Utah, had to be one of my highlights," Koncar pointed out. "Being a No. 1 draft choice for one of the most storied franchises in the NFL (Green Bay), surely added to my career. Playing for Houston was fun, even though the coach (Ed Biles) was all business. I loved meeting new people all the way and making friendships. That's what athletics is all about," said Koncar. "Even though my career was plagued with injuries, I have no regrets. Injuries are a part of the game. You have to wage a war personally to overcome them and keep your career going. I felt I earned a lot of respect from my peers doing that. I could've quit on myself and never did. I respect myself for that. If you quit on yourself, then you're quitting on life. I couldn't do that."
WHAT IS HE DOING NOW? Koncar lives in Alpine, with his wife, Karen, and three children. He has been the Western regional sales representative for Triad Transport Corp. for the past two years. The 47-year-old former star worked for Matlack Inc. for 13 years. "I still watch to see how my alma mater (Colorado) is doing. It was great to see how well the old Big Eight schools, like Oklahoma and Kansas State, did. Colorado is not that far away. They lost some big tough games to ranked schools. Next year, I think they're going to be respectable."
And that's Koncar, all about respect.