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Catching Up With ... former Colt Rick Volk

 Each week in The Toy Department, veteran Baltimore Sun sportswriter Mike Klingaman tracks down a former local sports figure and lets you know what's happening in his/her life in a segment called, "Catching Up With ... " Let Klingaman know who you'd like him to find and click here to check out previous editions of "Catching Up With ..."

He arrived at Colts camp with the face of a high school freshman and the savvy of a seasoned pro. Never mind that Rick Volk looked like Opie Taylor and got carded in bars until he turned 30. He started every game at safety as a Baltimore rookie in 1967 and played in the first of three Pro Bowls, en route to a stellar 12-year NFL career.

Agile and aggressive, Volk anchored the Colts defense for nine seasons. Mostly, though, he’s remembered for his role in the team’s two Super Bowl appearances.

In the 1971 game, he helped KO the Dallas Cowboys with a late interception. Two years earlier, during the loss to the New York Jets in Super Bowl III, Volk himself was knocked out -- twice -- and went into convulsions after the game.

1967 Sun file photo 

"The team doctor kept me from swallowing my tongue," said Volk, 64. "He used to show me the bite marks on his hand to prove it."


Volk recovered, made All-Pro and started 62 consecutive games for the Colts. Nowadays, the one-time Michigan All-American lives in Glen Arm with Charlene, his wife of 43 years, and works as a manufacturer’s rep for industrial products – a job Volk has held for 41 years.

Gone is the baby-face visage that dogged him in football.

"The gray hair sort of ages me," he said. "I’ve had one hip replaced and will have the other done next month. I can still throw the football around with my [four] grandkids, but when they throw the ball back, it better be right on the money."

With the Colts, Volk intercepted 31 passes, including one against the Chicago Bears in his rookie year that he returned 94 yards for a touchdown.

"The only reason I scored was because [Chicago’s] Gale Sayers was on the bench on that play, or he’d have caught me," Volk said.

His biggest swipe came in Super Bowl V, against Dallas. With eight minutes left and the Colts losing, 13-6, Volk picked off a Craig Morton pass and raced 30 yards to the Cowboys’ 3-yard line.

1968 Sun file photo 

"I remember having to hurdle [6-foot-7 linebacker] Ted Hendricks on that play," he said. "Ted saw me coming and got down on all fours. I jumped right over him."

Two plays later, Baltimore tied the game and then won it on Jim O’Brien’s last-second field goal.

The victory took some of the sting out of Baltimore’s Super Bowl loss to New York in 1969. That one, said Volk, is a game he’ll not forget, because there are parts that he can’t remember.

Early on, while tackling Matt Snell, the Jets’ 220-pound fullback, Volk’s head banged into Snell’s knee. The blow knocked him unconscious momentarily before Volk trotted off the field.

"After a couple of series, I went back in the game," he said. "But I wasn’t right. I was slow, reacting to plays, and it sort of contributed to some of the passes they were hitting on my side."

Late in the game, while recovering an onsides kick, Volk was bashed in the head again and crumpled to the ground. That night, he collapsed and began convulsing in the bathtub in his hotel room, where doctors intervened.

Hospitalized several days, Volk received a visit from Colts coach Don Shula and a floral arrangement from Joe Namath, the Jets’ brash young quarterback.

To this day, Volk appreciates the gesture.

"Joe wasn’t trying to rub it in or anything. He was just being nice," Volk said. "It was a pretty bouquet of flowers."

But nothing like the Super Bowl ring that Volk earned two years later.

"That’s the biggest award you can get, a trophy that you wear all the time," he said. "Ask any NFL player if he’d rather have $80,000 cash or a Super Bowl ring. The ring always wins."

2008 photo by Karen Jackson/Special to The Baltimore Sun

Comments

Rick Volk and Jerry Logan formed one of the most under-rated safety tandems in NFL history. Always nice to hear about all the Baltimore sports legends.

Rick is a class act on and off the field....Raven players take note!

I grew up with Rick's son Eric and we played lacrosse and football together. Rick was a role model to his kids and the community. He was never boastful and always grounded. Sadly they don't make them like that anymore in the NFL.

His wife, Charlene, has a lot of class.

Wow ! It is great to read about these former Baltimore Colts back when egos, money and self promotion was not prevalent like it is in the NFL today. These guys truly played for love of the game and it's fans. I was only a young boy in the late 60's and early 70's, but the Colts were big time in Baltimore and in my life. And so many former Colts like Rick Volk still live in the area. Rick was and is a classy Colt and former Colt. Keep them coming Mr. Klingaman.

Rick Volk a real "football" player. A true member of the great Baltimore Colts fraternity who has remained proud local citizen. There is no higher praise.

I am fortunate to call Rick Volk a friend. From a guy that I envied him as a player and the way he played & appraoched the game. Rick is truly one of a kind and a gentleman. The times I've spent with him and his wife Charlene or just with the guys (other Fmr players). He's always has included me and made me feel, I was one of the Boys.
I'm very fortuniate to be able to call Rick.....FRIEND"

The few times I've been in the presence of Rick at various charity Golf tournaments, he has always been first class all the way. Old school...you bet!
Today's players should take a page out of Rick's book on combining class with professionalism. Not to mention , he was one heck of a player.
Johnny Holliday

Rick Volk was a great safety for the Colts; thing i remember most about Super Bowl III though, was that Namath going after Lenny Lyles, to G. Sauer most of that game.

When I was a kid the Colts were my favorite team and Rick Volk was my favorite player. When he was traded (along with other players by Joe Thomas it broke my heart. Then the Colts left Baltimore and it broke my heart again. I'm glad Baltimore has another team but it's not the same. Thanks for the greta memories Rick.

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