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Educating David

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05/13/2010

Where Are They Now: Dave Casper, Class of 2002

by Pete Fierle

“I’d like to continue to do this as long as I can be effective,” he stated.

“He” was David Casper. That’s “David” not “Dave.”

And those words came from a conversation done from his cell phone while traveling between business meetings in the San Francisco Bay area earlier this week, not from an interview in the late 1970s or early ‘80s.

David, as he’s called by everyone other than sports fans, was not referring to his Hall of Fame career as one of the finest tight ends ever to walk on an NFL field. Rather, he was talking about his life today as a Managing Director for Northwestern Mutual Financial Network. He not only manages, recruits, and trains people for the company but also oversees his own block of business in Minneapolis, Chicago, and the Bay Area in California.

“I’m proud of what I did in football, and I’m just as proud of this,” he shared about his 20 years of experience with Northwestern Mutual. “It’s a bigger part of my life than football.”

It’s ever so apparent that the qualities that earned Casper a bronze bust in the Pro Football Hall of Fame are the very same characteristics that have driven him to succeed in the financial field.

He, himself, draws parallels to his football career by pointing out that he didn’t necessarily plan out his life this way. He never has experienced instant success and points out how his three or four failures at the start of his career in the financial business are very similar to how he began football. He wasn’t an instant star at Notre Dame and it wasn’t until his third season with the Oakland Raiders that he was inserted as a starter.

Casper is also very quick to give credit to others who helped him learn his craft. Just like he has been well trained at Northwestern Mutual, he reflected on how coach Ara Parseghian at Notre Dame was a great teacher. In Oakland, it was Hall of Fame coach John Madden who instilled the importance of learning his craft.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to be a person who was able to do the job. And, I was fortunate enough at the same time to be in the right places,” he shared. “Because, I would not have had the success had I not gone to Notre Dame, had I not been on the Raiders.”

Aside from graduating cum laude in Economics at Notre Dame, Casper also developed into a fine football player. By his junior year he earned All-America honorable mention at tackle and was voted the Irish’s Most Valuable Player. As a senior he became an All-America tight end.

“I realized that in my life I’ve been around world-class people and world-class partners. And I’ve had four of them. I’ve had Notre Dame, I’ve had my wife Susan, I’ve had the Oakland Raiders, and of course, Northwestern Mutual.” Dave Casper during his Enshrinement speech on August 3, 2002

Despite that fact, five tight ends were selected before the Raiders took him with their second round pick, 45th overall, in the 1974 NFL Draft. Part of the reason may be attributed to a false rumor that was circulating among NFL scouts that suggested Casper wasn’t interested in playing pro football. Who were they? The five TEs drafted before Casper in ’74.>>>

In talking with David Casper, it doesn’t take long to discover that football wasn’t his only passion. One might question whether it was a passion at all.

Today, he does not refute the thoughts he shared with a reporter during an interview with the Houston Chronicle in the early 1980s shortly after he joined the Houston Oilers.

“I hate competition,” he was stated as saying at the time. “I mean that about disliking competition, any competition. I don’t watch football on television…there’s no enjoyment for me in competition. It’s too taxing. I consider all competition war. I don’t take anything competitive as a game.”

“I still believe practice should not necessarily be fun but be educational and to some extent should be a place that you want to be,” Casper shared this week. “I think the game is something that you should want to win and get it over with it.”
 

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