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Catching Up With ... former Colts guard Glenn Ressler

Did former Colts guard Glenn Ressler have an “S” on his chest?

For a decade, each autumn, Glenn Ressler's Sundays were much the same. The mild-mannered Colts guard would slip into the locker room, remove his glasses, put on his uniform and perform feats of strength. Players called him Clark Kent.

"They said I looked like the comic-book character, but I never saw the resemblance," Ressler said. His alter ego? Another story.

A mainstay on the Colts offensive line from 1966 through 1974, Ressler helped the team to a world championship, two Super Bowl appearances and four division titles, carving daylight for runners like Tom Matte and Norm Bulaich and shielding the team's passers, Johnny Unitas and Earl Morrall.

On the field, his play spoke volumes. Off it, Ressler hardly said a word.

"I never was a talker; it just isn't me," he said by telephone from his home in Mechanicsburg, Pa. "In my day, you played against your opponent as hard as you could but you never got into conversations with him. I see players today yelling and talking trash, and I can't relate. I never went around all fired up; I'd dang near fall asleep before a game."

Come kickoff, the alarm went off. Routinely, Ressler held his own against All-Pro defenders such as Bob Lilly (Dallas Cowboys), Alan Page (Minnesota Vikings) and even Roger Brown, the Los Angeles Rams' massive tackle.

"He [Brown] weighed over 300, and I was 245. The math didn't add up too well," Ressler said. "I could give up 20 or 30 pounds to those guys, but any more than that was tough."

The Colts' third-round draft pick in 1965, he had starred at Penn State, a consensus All-American who played both ways and won the 1964 Maxwell Award, following Navy's Roger Staubach, as the best in college football. As a junior, Ressler made 15 unassisted tackles in the Nittany Lions' 26-0 upset of No. 1 Ohio State.

"That game probably made my career," said Ressler, an agriculture major. "I'd grown up on a farm, forking hay onto wagons and shocking wheat, and never played football until high school — and only then because my friends did."

He fit the Colts well, a sturdy left guard whose old-school work ethic and fraternal mindset matched those of his teammates.

"We all got along," he said. "After practice, I'd go trap shooting up in Baltimore County with [punter] David Lee and [tackle] Freddie Miller. After we drafted [quarterback] Bert Jones, I took him pheasant hunting in Chambersburg, [Pa.]. He charged right into the briars and bushes and flushed them out. Bert was the best bird dog I ever had."

Dealt to the Washington Redskins in 1975, Ressler retired instead and spent 30 years in the restaurant business with a chain of Red Barn and Ponderosa Steakhouse franchises in the Mid-Atlantic area. Now 71, he dabbles in real estate around his home near Harrisburg.

He lives with his wife of 49 years, Sandy, who survived both a heart and kidney transplant in 1998.

"I'm in good health," Ressler said. "Never had a broken bone or an operation related to football, though I hurt for the struggles other players are going through."

He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2001. Two years ago, the high school field on which he played in his hometown of Dornsife (population 1,163) was dedicated to Ressler. His name is on the scoreboard.

"I appreciated that," he said. "I remember that the field was brand new back then. Our team would go out there for an hour, before every practice, and pick up rocks until it was playable."

Keepsakes? There's a Colts helmet in Ressler's attic and the Maxwell Award on his desk — though you might have to squint to see it.

"It's a silver cigarette box, about 4 inches by 10," he said.

The ring he received from the Colts' victory in Super Bowl V (16-13 over the Dallas Cowboys) is kept in a safe.

"I'm proud of it," Ressler said. "It validates what we did. Many players more talented than me never had a chance to get a ring. But I don't wear it much. Show people today a ring like ours and they say, 'Oh. That's it?'

"The rings they give out now are are so big that you couldn't bend your finger with one on."

mike.klingaman@baltsun.com

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