He humbly admits that he played football because he was good at it. It would be an understatement to call Casper’s work on the football field simply “good.” After climbing the depth chart with the Raiders he took over the starting role in 1976. He responded with an All-Pro season, an honor he earned four straight years. He also was voted to the Pro Bowl for the first of five times in his career.
|“I enjoyed what I did on the field but I didn’t necessarily enjoy it while I was doing it.”
- Dave Casper
Casper hauled in 53 catches for 691 yards and scored a career-high 10 touchdowns that year. This was accomplished while really excelling more at blocking. Madden often placed Casper on the left side of the Raiders’ offensive line where he teamed with fellow future Hall of Famers tackle Art Shell and guard Gene Upshaw.
The Raiders powerful rushing attack helped fueled Oakland to a 13-1 finish that year. The team’s domination continued into the playoffs and was capped by the franchise’s first ever Super Bowl championship with a 32-14 victory over the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl XI. Casper chipped in with four receptions for 70 yards and scored the game’s first touchdown on a short one-yard TD pass from quarterback Ken Stabler. In addition, his help on the offensive line opened holes for the Raiders backfield to combine for 266 yards rushing on the day.
Despite all of his individual success that year what mattered most to Casper was the team.
“The thing that really pleased me the most was winning the Super Bowl,” he said following the win over the Vikings.
Casper was dealt to Houston in October 1980 and played with the Oilers until he was traded along with quarterback Archie Manning to Minnesota in the early part of the ’83 season. He played one final season in 1984 with the Raiders, who by that time had relocated to Los Angeles.
Following his retirement as a player, Casper bounced around and tried a few different endeavors that included working NFL broadcasts for NBC in 1987. He realized, though, that the game of football really didn’t excite him and that staying around the sport was not something he wanted to do.
Fortunate for David, he found a new team in Northwestern Mutual where he embarked on a successful career. It has allowed him the ability to help others just as others helped him get to where he’s at today. He supports a number of causes in the areas where he works and lives. Casper splits time between his homes in Alamo, CA and a northern Chicago suburb.
Casper’s generosity is spread out to a multitude of different beneficiaries. He shared that he has three main qualifications for his fundraising support. First, he focuses on a local need rather than one of national scope. Secondly, he hones in on situations that are usually something people didn’t get themselves into on their own. Third, he puts his support behind causes that help people get themselves out of a situation rather than one that continually supports an individual.
With his roots deeply entrenched in a Catholic upbringing in the Midwest, it is a natural fit for him to support a number of Catholic education institutions. One such example is that for many years he has supported St. Martin de Porres High School in Waukegan, Illinois through the Christo Rey Network. The program works to transform students from urban America who don’t have a lot of resources. The kids go to school four days a week and then spend one day in an office so they can be around adults in a work setting.
In Oakland, an example of Casper giving back to his community is exemplified by the support he and his wife give to The Summit Bank Foundation. It’s a charity that provides financial education to more than 3,000 students. They learn to make sense out of financial facts and to gain an understanding about money.
“They learn there are consequences to spending money and saving money,” Casper explained.
As he politely ended his recent interview so he could meet with clients, it was clear that David Casper is far more than Dave Casper, the football player. He is not a man whose life is defined solely by an 11-year period in which he played tight end in the National Football League. Nor does his life center around two famous plays in NFL history, the “Holy Roller,” and “The Ghost to the Post” that he admits helped earn him a place in Canton.
“I believe everybody is a combination of who you are and where you are,” Casper stated.
It’s obvious that statement rings true in his life. It began with his development of a strong work ethic in Wisconsin as a youth, to excelling as a student-athlete in South Bend, to helping the Silver & Black reach the height of success in the NFL.
Most importantly to him, it appears it’ll also allow him to continue to flourish in his career with Northwestern Mutual for many years to come.
Fierle is the Manager-Digital Media/Communications at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He joined the Hall of Fame's staff in 1988.
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