At 6-9 and 263 pounds, Bob St. Clair's mere presence on the gridiron tended to intimidate many opponents. As an offensive tackle for the San Francisco 49ers during the 1950s and 60s, St. Clair hit opponents with such ferocity that he was feared and respected for his violence, power and strength. Bob stopped by Friday and was nice enough to sit down with us for a chat session.
MODERATOR: Thanks for joing us today Bob. How are you doing today?
Bob St. Clair: I'm doing fine, thanks. It's beautiful out here in California! It just doesn't get any better!
timgut: Bob, do you still keep in touch with the guys you played with? Like the guys in the million-dollar backfield?
Bob St. Clair: Definitely yes. We have a very active alumni assoc. where we meet once a month. Plus, we have a tailgate party for all the 49er home games when we get together. And, there are all the Hall of Fame functions as well!
kpaluso: How would you compare your 49ers teams to the dynasty 49er teams of the '80s?
Bob St. Clair: During the 50s, we had some outstanding teams. The million-dollar backfield from '54-'57 was every bit as good or even better -- especially mentally! We weren't getting paid very much and we had a burning desire to play.
footballhero: I heard you used to eat raw meat. How did that start and what did your diet consist of?
Bob St. Clair: It started when I was about five. My grandmother, when preparing dinner on the chopping block, would give me pieces of it. Even today, at restaurants and at home, I still eat meat raw. With today's reports coming out about cooked meat, I think eating it raw is healthier for someone like me, who is almost 70! If there was a nuclear holocaust, I guarantee I would survive!
bearsfan: Bob, who's the toughest player you ever faced?
Bob St. Clair: No question, it was Gino Marchetti from the Baltimore Colts. I played with him in college and it was almost a personal thing when we faced each other. He had great speed for a man his size! He was 6-4, 250 pounds, and he was always giving me so much trouble. In fact, everyone in the league had problems with him!
ciderjack: Do you watch pro football today? How has the game changed since you last played??
Bob St. Clair: Of course! Even though it's such a different game, I still love it. The lineman can now use their hands, the equipment is so much better, etc. For my first three years, I didn't even have a facemask! Plus, there's the turf and the speed-burners in today's game. And finally, there's the whole TV aspect in today's game.
Pete: What was it like to be in Canton this year with over 100 Hall of Famers?
Bob St. Clair: That was one of the most amazing experiences in my life, next to having six children. I was able to sit down and have some beers with guys I played with 40 years ago! I just hope the NFL makes this an annual thing by supporting the Hall of Fame! Everyone who was there had the same experiences as I did. It was just outrageous!
kpaluso: Do you think offensive linemen are finally getting the respect they deserve with the recent string of top picks like Tony Boselli, Orlando Pace, and Chris Samuels?
Bob St. Clair: No question! Look at the money they're making. The coaches are recognizing the fact that, without a great pass-protector for the QB, you might as well forget it! You could be the best QB in the world, but without a line, you can just forget it. And, have you noticed how big these guys are? They are 300 pounds and they can move! We didn't have that back then.
saleemc: How did service in WWII or the Korean war affect the NFL players of your day?
Bob St. Clair: When I first started in 1953, we still had football players who were veterans of both wars. They were much older and mature, and that's what I really noticed. When I was 21 and playing, heck, I would shave once a week. These guys had beards, for Christ's sake! Those are just things you overcame.
mdawg: Why did your teammates call you "Geek"?
Bob St. Clair: Because of my eating habits! There was a movie that came out with Tyrone Power where he was locked in a cage and called "geek." They used to throw live chickens in there and that's where it came from. However, I only let my friends call me that!
Pete: When you retired did you think you had more football in you and how long did it take to get used to being away from the game?
Bob St. Clair: Yes, there's no question. I tore an achilles tendon and came back the next year as a Pro Bowler. In '64, I tore the other one. After that, it wasn't meant to be. I didn't recover the way I did with the first tear. When I did retire, I still hung around the game the next five years and helped the linemen out on the sidelines.
footballhero: Who was the best offensive player you ever saw?
Bob St. Clair: Oh boy, that's a really difficult question. There were so many! Jimmy Parker, Lou Creekmur, Anthony Munoz, John Hannah. As far as people not in the Hall, I would have to mention Jackie Slater. And for today's players, I think Larry Allen on Dallas is outstanding.
MODERATOR: And finally...
timgut: What do you do with your time in San Francisco nowadays?
Bob St. Clair: I'm in marketing and sales for Clover Farms, in Sonoma County (50 miles north of SF). I've been involved in dairy for 10 years now, and we just received a national award for the way we treat our cows! We don't use any hormones and everything is fresh! In other words, we have happy cows!
MODERATOR: Thanks for joining us Bob. Any final thoughts?
Bob St. Clair: The 49ers are in a rebuilding process, just like the Dallas Cowboys. They both had runs in the '80s and '90s and it's all a cycle. We will be back!
MODERATOR: Have a great day and check back often to chat with more Hall of Fame members! Thanks for visiting profootballhof.com!