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March 25, 1982 - Image 10

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1982-03-25

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Page 10-Thursday, March 25,1982-The Michigan Daily

Lytle keeps running-into injuries

By STEVEN R. KAMEN
In 1976, Bo Schembechler called Rob
Lytle ".. .the best all-around back I've
had at Michigan." As a senior in 1976
Lytle gained 1,402 yards and scored 13
touchdowns and finished his Michigan
career with 3,250 yards rushing and 25
touchdowns.
After being named co-captain for the
1976 season, Lytle closed out his

way that you play. He develops a men-
tal toughness and character in people,
thus bringing up people to fit in his
scheme of plans."
As a sophomore he alternated with
Gorden Bell at the starting tailback
position, but as a junior Schembechler
asked him to play the fullback position
even though he had earned the starting
slot at tailback. "As a fullback I lear-
ned a lot on how to be a blocker. Also
Gordon Bell and I both gained over 1000
yards," said Lytle.
"Everything at Michigan was a
dream come true," he continued. "I
always wanted to be a football player."
In the summer of 1977 Lytle signed a
contract with the Denver Broncos of the
National Football League. Oddly.
though, Lytle, who won the 1976 Big Ten
rushing championship and averaged 6.2
yards per carry, was only chosen in the
second round.
AS A ROOKIE on the Broncos, Lytle
began the season in an unfamiliar
position - on the bench. However, by
the end of the season, Lytle had earned
the starting position. That year the
Broncos finished 12-2 and went to the
Super Bowl where they faced Dallas.
"In the Super Bowl, Otis (Armstrong)
started but eventually he got benched.
But it was a real blow to me that I didn't
start." Denver lost that game just as

Michigan lost the Orange Bowl against
Oklahoma While he was a junior and the
Rose Bowl against Southern California
when he was a senior. "It's kind of fun-
ny that of all the major bowls I've been
in, I've never won one," said Lytle.
Not winning a major bowl game has
been the least of Lytle's worries.
Throughout his career Lytle has been
plagued with injury after injury after
injury.
IN THE 1978 season opener against
Oakland, Lytle broke his ankle. the
ankle eventually healed but it was
found that his knee had torn ligaments
and consequently surgery was
required. Following the surgery, Lytle
spent five weeks in a cast and many
more weeks in the training room.
Then on the second offensive play of
the 1979 preseason, Lytle, who had
gained four yards on the first play, in-
curred another knee injury on the
following play.
Last year, after recovering from his
injury, Lytle had to have another
operation, this one on his shoulder.
"You know it's tough when you've had
three knee operations and a shoulders
operation. There are not too many
people who would have confidence in

me and frankly I don't blame them.
"I FEEL fortunate that I have had
five years in pro ball. But you know the
bad part about it is that none of my in-
juries have been self-inflicted or inflic-
ted by teammates," said Lytle.
"This year I feel good and the run-
ning program has been lifted. Dan
Reeves (Denver head coach), a good
man, totally changed the program."
Reeves, who came to the Broncos from
Dallas last year, also brought the
sophistication and precision of the
Dallas program to Denver. "Now the
system has more variation and more
diversity - he's a good strategist,"
said Lytle.
Reeves also seems to have hopes for
Lytle. "If Rob comes back from his
shouldertinjury alright he might get in
the starting lineup," said Reeves.
"Rob has fun, he has a great attitude,
and if he is healthy he'll be a com-
petitor. Last year he did a super job on
the short yardage plays, he's a good
fundamental player."
"My goal is to last 10 years in the
pros," said Lytle. "Football has been
very good to me but I have a family and
I must look at my alternatives outside
football."

G

I

Sports Inormation ri
FORMER MICHIGAN All-American Rob Lytle hopes to overcome a series
of injuries as he continues his pro football career.

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