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September 20, 1978 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1978-09-20

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The Michigan Daily-Wednesday, September 20, 1978-Page 9


finds life after football

Untimely injury forces Patek from gridiron

This should be Bob Patek's finest
Returning to his familiar position as
starting wolfback on another powerful
{Michigan team, Patek should be on the
field, leading the defensive secondary
this Saturday in South Bend.
BUT PATEK WON'T even be in
uniform when the Wolverines line up
against Notre Dame. He hasn't been in.
uniform for over a year. In fact, he's
never even started a game for Bo
Schembechler in three years and he
won't be starting any this year either.
Patek's story is indeed a sad
one-about a hard-working guy whose
I rapidly blossoming career was abrup-
ly ended at its halfway point by a
serious spinal injury in the Duke game
ast year.
But, before any tears are shed on Bob
atek's behalf, be advised that he is in
no dire need of sympathy. He suffers
only from an occasional stiff neck and
the mind-wracking second thoughts of a
promising and fulfilling football career
at Michigan that never was.
THIS YEAR, PATEK is a senior. A

football player for the past eight years,
Patek now talks about his playing days
in the past tense. His name is nowhere
to be found in the football program or
the rosterand his official designation is
now 'student assistant.'
He owes all of this new-found status to
the injury he suffered last Sept. 18.
"It happened in the Duke game, in
the beginning of the second half," said
Patek, recalling the details as if it were
only yesterday. "I made, a head-up
tackle on their tailback. He was
breaking into the open field and I had
him head-up. We both went down. It
was a pretty hard hit.
"I FELT A sharp pain between my
shoulders-like somebody sticking a
knife in."
Patek wasn't wincing as he spoke
unemotionally of the injury which led to
the end of his career. It is an injury that
won't heal. The collision with Blue
Devil back Mike Barney that day per-
manently changed his bone structure.
"It's called a sublexation of the sixth
cervical vertebrae," explained Patek,
the complex medical terms rolling
easily off his tongue. "That means that
my sixth vertebrae has slid forward

over my seventh. "THE DOCTOR told me right off,
"THE DOCTORS feel that there's an 'Bob, there's been no change after six
increased risk that I might have a months. My recommendation to you is
,serious neck injury-and possible that you give up football. . . You can
paralysis-if I continue playing foot- sue me. You can get a court injunction
ball." to play football, but nobody in their
And so he plays football no longer, right mind would let you play'."
'There's a thing that Bo always says and that is,
'Don't leave the field with any regrets.' The last time
I played, I had that feeling. But now I look back and
regret thatI never had the chance to keep going.'
-Bob Patek

forced to accept a decision that was as
difficult for the team doctors to make
as it has been for the athlete to swallow.
Literally dozens of doctors, many of
them noted neurosurgeons and or-
thopedic surgeons, were involved with
Patek's case. Patek sat idly for the rest
of the '77 season while the physicians,
headed by team doctor Gerald O'Con-
nor deliberated. Their eventual verdict
wasn't handed down until early March.

Even though six months had passed
and the decision appeared almost
inevitable, it still wasn't easy.
Particularly difficult for Patek to
accept was the cruel timing of the
injury - just as he was ready to break
into the starting lineup.
"I had just played the whole Duke
game," he recalled, "And I won an
award for my performance - 'Hustler
of the Week.' It looked like I would have
started the next four, five or six games.
And the way it worked out, I didn't start
the second thoughts nagging at Patek's
"When I came here as a freshman, I
wasn't as highly-touted as some of the
others. I had it in the back of my mind
that I had to prove myself. . . but I
never really got the chance to go out
and show what I could do.
"There's a thing that Bo always says
and that is, 'Don't leave the field with
any regrets.' The last time I played, I
had that feeling. But now I look back
and regret that I never had the chance
to keep going."
BUT PATEK hasn't been drowning in
his own tears this season. He's been too
For one thing, his duties as a student
assistant make him almost an assistant
coach to defensive backfield coach
Jack Harbaugh. Although he doesn't
get the same kind of satisfaction out of
coaching as he did from playing, Patek
naturally enjoys the contact with his
former teammates.
It is a case of mutual respect between
the coaching staff and the former
wolfman. Harbaugh especially
appreciates Patek's efforts. and is
having a hard time trying to replace
him on the field.
"He's such an intelligent guy," said
Harbaugh. "He's always aware of
what's going on. When you lose
someone of his intelligence and calibre,
you've got a lot of replacing to do."
"I'M A REAL Bob Patek fan,"
Harbaugh continued. "He's got all the
qualities we look for in athletes at
Michigan. He made a significant

Daily Photo by BRAD BENJAMIN
TODAY BOB PATEK watches the Michigan Wolverines from the sidelines instead
of the defensive backfield. The pre-med senior is now a student assistant to defen-
sive coach Jack Harbaugh, and concentrates on his studies instead of football.

contribution to our program, especially
when he played three-and-a-half
quarters in the 1977 Rose Bowl filling in
for Jerry Zuver."
In addition to his coaching
responsibilities, Patek is concentrating
harder than ever in the classroom,
seeking to maintain or improve his 3.72
GPA. An honor student all his life,
Patek wants very much to enroll in
Michigan's med school next fall.
And finally, Patek steadfastly refuses
to dwell on the negatives of his. injury.
Instead, he spoke of how the injury
shifted some of his priorities in life.
"YOU COME to college and you're
almost brainwashed," he said. "First,
you're a student. Then you're a football
player. Those are your two things and
they take up all your time. Anything
else is extra.
"Then I came to realize through
certain experiences, especially my
injury, that those things aren't always
the most important. There are other
things in life and you have to enjoy
those too."
So it seems as though Patek's
adjustment is complete. And although
he won't be wearing his old number 24
this Saturday at Notre Dame, you can
bet that some of Patek's influence will
surface on the playing field against the



Daily Photo by JOHN KNOX
BOB PATEK (24) fights off the evil slants of a pair of Duke Blue Devils in Patek's final game ever on the gridiron. Patek
ater sustained a neck injury that would end his career just when it looked like he had secured himself a spot in the starting
ineup. Coming in on the play is former Wolverine safety Dwight Hicks (17).


Red Sox

Speciatto The Daily
DETROIT-Brilliant performances
by a tired veteran and a tired arm
enabled the Boston Red Sox to defeat
etroit 8-6 and climb to within 11/2
ames of division leader New York,
ho lost to Milwaukee 2-0.
Relief pitcher Bill Campbell, who has
spent most of the year hobbled with a
ore arm, pitched five innings of
coreless ball, and Carl Yastrzemski
rove in five runs with three hits as the
3ox survived a ninth-inning scare to win
heir third in a row.
The Tigers threatened in the ninth
hen Aurelio Rodriguez and Alan
rammell singled with no one out. Dick
rago replaced the tired Campbell and
'truck out Ron LeFlore. The Tiger cen-
erfielder, who had gone 4-4, was or-
dered to bunt and fouled two attempts
off before taking a called third strike.
Boston manager Don Zimmer then
replaced Drago with lefty Andy Hassler
to face Lou Whitaker and Rusty Staub.
Hassler, who was the winning pitcher
'n Monday night's 11 innming 5-4 Boston
ictory, walked Whitaker to load the
ases on a 3-2 count and then got Staub

to bounce
Campbell p
in 12 decision
the save. Mor
The game
Tiger starter
quick runs i
Remy and.
around the up
While Slator
inning, Red
never retired
won twice thi
gave up con;
LeFlore and
Staub then w

outslug9Tig e
pson followed with his 24th homer of the
season, a towering blast eight rows
deep in the rightfield upper deck.
Detroit increased, its lead in the
second when LeFlore doubled home
Alan Trammell from first. Boston
returned the favor in the third inning,
as Carlton Fisk drove Remy home from
third with a sacrifice fly to left.
Detroit's final run came in the third
off reliever Tom Burgmeier as Steve
Kemp singled, was sacrificed to
second, and scored on Tim Corcoran's
ground single.
into a game-ending Jack Morris had relieved Slaton in
the third, getting Detroit out a jam, but
?icked up his seventh win the bottom fell out in the fourth when
s with Hassler picking up Boston scored four times with two out.
rris saw his record drop to With the bases loaded via two singls
and a walk, American League RBI
leader Jim Rice singled up the middle,
started out as a slugfest. tying the game at six. Yaz followed with
Jim Slaton gave up three a double off the right-centerfield wall,
n the first. After Jerry drying in the two winning runs, and en-
Jim Rice singled, Carl ding the scoring for the evening. The
snuck a Slaton curveball Roston leftfielder and captain finished
per deck foulpole in right. with five RBI's in a three-for-four effort.
n was able to survive the Campbell entered in the bottom of the
Sox starter Luis Tiant fourth inning, and muffled the once
a batter. Tiant, who has
s season against Detroit, ."-
secutive singles to Ron
Lou Whitaker. Rustyr.
alked, and Jason Thom-

booming Tiger bats on only two singles
until the ninth. Morris and Dave Tobik
did the same but Campbell was the
more impressive, striking out the side
in one inning and not letting a single
Tiger past first until the final stanza.
Yanks yanked
NEW YORK (AP)-Mike Caldwell,
who won only 13 of 41 decisions in three
years following elbow surgery in 1974,
became a 20-game winner, set one
Milwaukee club record and tied two
others last night, hurling a four-hitter
as the Brewers defeated the New York
Yankees 2-0.
In blanking the Yankees for the third
time this season, Caldwell boosted his
career mark against them to 4-1, with a
1.50 ERA. He permitted only one runner
to advance beyond first base, walked
none and struck out 10.
New York pitcher Dick Tidrow, 7-11,
was nicked for a run in the third inning
on Robin Yount's double and Don
Money's single. Yount hit his ninth
homer in the fifth as the Brewers snap-
ped four-game losing streak.

' ,,11

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Cleveland 2, Baltimore 1
Milwaukee 2, New York 0
California 4, Minnesota 1
Boston 8, Detroit 6
Pittsburgh 12, Chicago 11
Montreal 5, Philadelphia 2
St. Louis 5, New York 3
Atlanta 3, Houston 2

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