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Catching Up With ... Former Colt Sam Havrilak

He used to do work that rattled one's teeth. Now, Sam Havrilak's job is to care for them.

A dentist in Parkville, Havrilak tends patients' chompers with the same hands that once passed, caught and cradled the football for the Colts. Every day finds him tackling a host of problems, from fillings to crowns to extractions to root canals.

"I do a bit of everything," he said.

His football career was much the same. In five years here, Havrilak played six different positions for the Colts and helped them win a world championship in 1970. In the title game, a 16-13 victory over the Dallas Cowboys, Havrilak became the first player in Super Bowl history to (a) complete a pass, (b) catch a pass and (c) carry the ball for positive yardage.

He wears the Super Bowl ring proudly, though not at work. Federal regulations frown on dentists wearing jewelry.

"Anyway, the ring is so big that I'd probably create more problems than I'd fix," he said.

Havrilak's waiting room is peppered with football memorabilia, most donated by patients. There's a scrapbook of clippings from Baltimore's glory days and a 1969 rookie photo of Havrilak, then an eighth-round draft pick from Bucknell.

Some stare at the picture skeptically.

"Boy, you don't look like a football player," they'll say.

Havrilak's response?

"That was 44 years ago."

One of the most versatile players in Colts' history, Havrilak lined up wherever needed, be it safety, tailback or quarterback; tight end, fullback or wide receiver..Coaches called him "Mr. All-Around" and kept him as one of only three rookies that year, along with receiver Eddie Hinton, the No. 1 pick, and linebacker Ted Hendricks (No. 2).

Havrilak performed like a Swiss army knife. In 1970, following a tough 29-10 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, he received the game ball after rushing for a game-high 61 yards. Two weeks later, despite never having practiced at quarterback, he replaced Earl Morrall near the end of a 35-20 win over the New York Jets.

"When I got into the huddle, (guard) Corny Johnson looked up, confused, and said, 'We ain't got no quarterback in here!' I said, 'I'm the quarterback.' Then Corny said, 'You ain't no quarterback, you're the running back.' "

Right on both counts. On the first play, Havrilak carried for 11 yards, then passed for 28 before time ran out.

In 1972, he caught two scoring passes in a 31-0 rout of the New England Patriots — the only two-touchdown game of his career. That season he caught 33 passes, despite having played wide receiver for only three games as a sophomore in college.

"I'm proud of that (utility role), because I could do all of that stuff and nobody else could," Havrilak said. "If someone got hurt, they'd plug me in there. That I'd played quarterback in college helped, because I had a concept of what everyone else was doing.

"Being versatile kept me around awhile but, at the same time, it didn't allow me to get better at any one thing. I think I could have played another three years if I'd stayed at one position but, on the other side of the coin, I could also have gotten seriously hurt."

He's best remembered for Super Bowl V when, on a flea-flicker play from the Dallas 39, Havrilak took a handoff from Morrall that he was supposed to toss back to the quarterback.

"But (Cowboys' lineman) Jethro Pugh was in the way," Havrilak said. "So I looked downfield, saw Hinton open in a place where he wasn't supposed to be, and threw him the ball."

Hinton caught it and raced toward the goal line, only to be hit from behind at the five-yard line and stripped of the ball, which bounced through the end zone for a touchback.

"Thirty-five years later," Havrilak said, "Eddie walked up to me and said, 'Are you still mad at me?' "

The dentist's response?

"Hell, no."

Released by the Colts in 1974 after settlement of a players' strike, Havrilak played one year with the New Orleans Saints and called it quits. Two years later he began his dental practice, having attended school at Maryland during several off-seasons.

Now 66, he lives in Jacksonville with his wife, Terry. Married 40 years and the father of one, Havrilak has no plans to retire. Patients include former Colts Tom Matte, Fred Miller, Rick Volk and Bruce Laird. Hall of Famers Johnny Unitas and Art Donovan both sat in his dental chair. Players trust one of their own, and few have aimed higher than Havrilak.

"I'm proudest of the fact that I parlayed one professional career into another professional career," he said. "Not many people do that.

"Whatever work you choose, it all comes down to being the best that you can be."

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