NFL alum Bill Kollar earned many distinctions during his 50-year career as player and coach.
For example, he had his jersey number 77 retired by his alma mater Montana State where he excelled on the field from 1970-73. He still is the highest player drafted from Montana State after being selected by the Bengals in the first round in 1974.
He adds yet another honor this Tuesday in Las Vegas by becoming the first player from that school inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
“Anything that I have ever been able to do falls back on Montana State,” says the 71-year-old Ohio native. “I know everyone says things like that, but especially coming from a smaller school, people obviously are proud of the university. We won the Big Sky championship in 1972 and later I was lucky enough to play in the Senior Bowl. I was named the first defensive player to ever win that game’s MVP award. That was great recognition for the school.”
Kollar had an eight-year career as defensive tackle with the Bengals (1974-76) and Buccaneers (1977-81) before an injury ended his playing days.
“After I flunked my physical with a torn ACL,” Kollar explains, “I wasn’t sure what I was going to do next. I said I’d love to get into coaching. I had always paid really good attention and answered questions as a player in the meeting room. Abe Gibron, who had played in the league and was a colorful, larger-than-life character, was my line coach in Tampa. He used to get ticked off when I answered all the questions in our position meeting. ‘Will you let someone else answer’, he would yell at me.”
Kollar started his coaching career back at Montana State.
“The Bucs called me shortly after I had returned to Montana,” Kollar recalls, “and asked me if I’d like to come back to join Coach (John) McKay’s staff. I went back and that sort of spring-boarded my coaching career.”
That coaching career included serving as a defensive line coach for five other NFL teams. He earned a Super Bowl ring in 2015 as a member of the Broncos staff. He decided to retire when a nine-year stint ended in Denver after the 2022 season.
We at NFL Alumni salute Bill Kollar on his College Football Hall of Fame induction. We also thank him for mentoring so many of you during his successful NFL coaching career.