The expression, “You can’t fit a square peg in a round hole”, applies to the careers of certain NFL players.
Sometimes, it takes a change in position for an NFL player to fully realize his potential on the playing field.
One such “square peg/round hole” example is Bob Golic.
After struggling at linebacker with the New England Patriots, Golic came to the Cleveland Browns and moved to nose tackle.
With this position change, Golic won multiple Pro Bowl and other honors and helped the Browns make four consecutive playoff appearances from 1985 to 1988.
Bob Golic pic.twitter.com/t7DR0ilYI4
— Scott Phillips (@ScottPhillips44) December 15, 2020
We take a look at the life of Bob Golic – before, during, and after his NFL playing career.
The Early Years Through High School
Robert Perry Golic was born on October 26, 1957 in Cleveland, Ohio.
His parents were Catherine and Louis Robert “Bob” Golic.
His father played tackle in the Canadian Football League with the Montreal Alouettes, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the Saskatchewan Roughriders between 1956 and 1962.
He won the Grey Cup (the championship game of the Canadian Football League) with Hamilton in 1957.
Golic has two younger brothers, Greg (who played at Notre Dame) and Mike (who played at Notre Dame, and in the NFL with the Houston Oilers, the Philadelphia Eagles, and the Miami Dolphins from 1985 to 1993).
As a Cleveland native, it is probably not surprising that Golic grew up as a Cleveland Browns fan.
Golic’s father trained his sons to play football.
On a football field at a local junior high school, Golic would work with his father pushing sleds and working on technique against a tackling dummy.
“He just wanted to get the basics. All my buddies were on the baseball field playing [beer] softball. And I’m on the football field with my dad, drills, conditioning, doing all these things.”
He attended St. Joseph High School, then an all-boys, private Roman Catholic high school in Cleveland, graduating in 1975.
Golic excelled at both football and wrestling at St. Joseph High School.
In football, Golic was an all-scholastic linebacker.
In wrestling, in 1975, Golic won the Ohio high school heavyweight championship.
He defeated future Cleveland Browns teammate Tom Cousineau in the semifinals and Harold Smith (who represented the United States in the 1981 world wrestling championships) in the finals.
In considering colleges, Golic wanted to attend a school where he could continue to be on both the football and the wrestling teams.
Such major colleges as Michigan, Ohio State, Virginia, Purdue, Alabama, and Notre Dame recruited Golic.
He ultimately decided to head to South Bend, Indiana and attend Notre Dame.
Golic played football for Notre Dame from 1975 through 1978.
When Golic played at Notre Dame Stadium, he was in awe.
“You knew you were part of something special. Not just that day, but you were part of the history book. You were in there with Knute and all the other greats, it was pretty incredible.”
In the second game of the 1975 season, against Purdue on September 20, 1975, when Notre Dame’s starting middle linebacker was injured, Golic got his chance.
As a 17-year-old freshman, Golic became a starting linebacker for the Fighting Irish.
In his first starting game, a 31-7 Fighting Irish win over Northwestern on September 27, 1975, Golic was described as “super . . . making three solo tackles and seven assists at middle linebacker”.
Notre Dame had an 8-3 record in 1975.
Golic contributed to Notre Dame’s defense allowing only 13.1 points per game in 1975 (ranked 21st among 137 college football teams).
In 1976, Golic made 99 tackles (six for losses), had one interception, and broke up one pass, in 11 regular season games.
Notre Dame posted a 9-3 record in 1976, including a 20-9 win over Penn State in the Gator Bowl on December 27, 1976, and was ranked 12th in the nation in the final Associated Press poll.
Golic helped Notre Dame’s defense record three shutouts in 1976 – 23-0 against Purdue on September 18, 1976, 48-0 against Northwestern on September 25, 1976, and 41-0 against Oregon on October 16, 1976.
Golic’s play at linebacker began to receive national recognition in the 1977 season.
He had 146 tackles (five for losses), had three interceptions, broke up five passes, recovered a fumble, and blocked a kick, in 11 regular season games in 1977.
He also returned one punt for 16 yards in 1977.
Golic was named second team All-American at linebacker in 1977 by the Associated Press and United Press International.
Notre Dame had a 10-1 regular season record in 1977 and advanced to the Cotton Bowl to play then unbeaten Texas on January 2, 1978.
In probably his most significant game for the Fighting Irish, Golic was the defensive player of the game, after he had 17 tackles, forced a fumble, and blocked a field goal.
Notre Dame defeated Texas 38-10 and was named college football national champion for 1977.
— Pat Disabato (@disabato) January 6, 2021
As a senior in 1978, Golic was a team captain for the Fighting Irish.
In a 28-14 loss to Michigan on September 23, 1978, Golic set a Notre Dame record, with 26 tackles in a single game.
For the 1978 regular season, Golic had 152 tackles (five for losses), had two interceptions, broke up two passes, and recovered a fumble, in 11 games.
Golic was a consensus All-American at linebacker in 1978, being named All-American by the American Football Coaches Association, the Football Writers Association of America, and the Walter Camp Football Foundation, first team All-American by the Associated Press and United Press International, and second team All-American by the Newspaper Enterprise Association.
Notre Dame recorded a 9-3 record in 1978, including a 35-34 Cotton Bowl victory over Houston on January 1, 1979, and was ranked seventh in the nation in the final Associated Press poll. Golic’s play helped the Fighting Irish defense hold four opponents to single digits in 1978.
In addition to his football achievements, Golic excelled as a wrestler at Notre Dame.
Golic had a wrestling record in college of 54-4-1 and was a two-time All-American as a heavyweight, finishing in the NCAA championship fourth in 1977 and third in 1978.
He graduated from Notre Dame with a B.A. in Management in 1979.
Golic played in the Hula Bowl (he was defensive player of the game) and the Japan Bowl all-star games in 1979 and then headed to the NFL.
The Pro Football Years
Golic was drafted by the New England Patriots in the second round of the 1979 NFL draft; he was the 52nd overall pick.
It would be fair to say that Golic’s three years with the Patriots from 1979 to 1981 were disappointing.
While second round draft picks are expected to at least somewhat contribute in their rookie seasons, Golic did not.
Golic suffered a shoulder injury and was on injured reserve for nearly the entire 1979 regular season; he played in only one regular season game in 1979.
Golic played more in 1980 (playing in all 16, and starting three, regular season games) and in 1981 (playing in all 16, and starting nine, regular season games).
He did have 159 tackles with the Patriots in 1981, which was second on the team.
He also recovered a fumble in 1981.
However, Golic generally had difficulties playing linebacker with the Patriots.
He especially had a problem in covering running backs out of the backfield.
On August 31, 1982, New England waived Golic.
Fortunately for Golic, he was out of the NFL for only one day.
On September 1, 1982, Golic was claimed off waivers by the Cleveland Browns for only a $100 waivers price.
The Browns were not looking for Golic to play linebacker.
Instead, they wanted him to play nose tackle in the middle of the defensive line.
Cleveland remembered Golic’s wrestling in high school and college and thought that his wrestling skills would translate well to the nose tackle position.
For Golic, it was a dream come true to play for his boyhood team.
Even when he was with the Patriots, Golic had remained a Browns fan, including that he attended Cleveland’s 14-12 playoff loss to the Oakland Raiders on January 4, 1981 at Cleveland Municipal Stadium (the game is known as “Red Right 88”, named for a passing play that led to a game-winning interception for the Raiders, as a result of Cleveland deciding to attempt to score a touchdown instead of kick a potential game-winning field goal).
“I went to that game. I was playing with the Patriots, but the season was over . . . I was living in Cleveland. I went to the stadium and was sitting in what came to be known as the Dawg Pound. We watched everything until halftime when I realized, holy crap, my hot chocolate froze. I’m getting the hell out of here and watching on TV.”
In moving from linebacker to nose tackle, Golic had to put on weight.
He gained 30 pounds, going from 240 to 270 pounds.
Golic explained his role as a nose tackle for the Browns, as follows:
“When I first got here, they said, ‘Your job is to occupy the center and both guards, to keep them away from the linebackers because they make [more] money than you do.’ I asked them about tackles and they said, ‘You don’t have to make tackles. Just let people hit you.’”
The move to the defensive line was the key turning point in Golic’s NFL career.
“[O]nce my hands hit the ground, the mud never got off of them. They just stayed down.”
In 1982 (which had only nine regular season games because of a players’ strike), Golic played in six, and started four, regular season games for Cleveland.
On December 12, 1982, Golic had his first sacks with the Browns, sacking Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Ken Anderson twice, in a 23-10 Browns loss to the Bengals.
The following week, Golic sacked future Pro Football Hall of Fame Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw, as Cleveland defeated the Steelers 10-9 on December 19, 1982.
For the 1982 regular season, Golic had four sacks.
The Browns had a 4-5 record in 1982.
Golic contributed to Cleveland’s defense ranking in the NFL regular season in 1982 second in most forced turnovers (28) and tied for fourth in most interceptions (17).
Cleveland’s 4-5 record was sufficient for the team to make the expanded 16 team playoff system in use in 1982.
On January 8, 1983, the Browns played the Los Angeles Raiders in a playoff game.
Golic started the game at nose tackle, but Cleveland lost to the Raiders 27-10.
Golic started all 16 regular season games in 1983.
In a 35-21 Cleveland loss to the Green Bay Packers on November 6, 1983, Golic scored his only NFL touchdown, when he intercepted Packers quarterback Lynn Dickey and returned the interception for a seven-yard touchdown.
The following two weeks, Golic helped Cleveland’s defense post two consecutive shutouts.
Golic had three and a half sacks in 1983.
Cleveland posted a 9-7 record in 1983.
In 1984, Golic played in and started 15 regular season games.
On October 7, 1984, Golic sacked New England Patriots quarterback Tony Eason in a 17-16 Browns loss to New England.
In a 12-9 Cleveland loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on October 21, 1984, Golic had a sack.
In addition to these two sacks in 1984, Golic recovered a fumble (which he returned for 18 yards).
Cleveland fell to a 5-11 record in 1984.
Despite this record, Golic contributed to the Browns defense ranking in the NFL regular season in 1984 second in fewest total passing and rushing yards allowed (4,641) and third in fewest passing yards allowed (2,696).
— John Skrtic (@SkrticX) January 15, 2021
Golic started all 16 regular season games in 1985.
On December 15, 1985, Golic had a sack of future Pro Football Hall of Fame Houston Oilers quarterback Warren Moon, as the Browns defeated the Houston Oilers 28-21.
Bob Golic against Houston at Cleveland Stadium pic.twitter.com/e7S7tD7aZQ
— Mark Humphrey (@MarkHum39586180) October 21, 2020
Golic had three sacks in 1985.
He was named first team All-Pro by The Sporting News, second team All-Pro by the Associated Press, and second team All-Conference by United Press International, in 1985.
He also received his first Pro Bowl invitation in 1985.
With an 8-8 record, the Browns won the AFC Central Division title in 1985.
Cleveland met the Miami Dolphins in a divisional round playoff game on January 4, 1986.
Golic started the game at nose tackle, but the Dolphins beat the Browns 24-21.
In 1986, Golic started all 16 regular season games for the second consecutive year.
Chip Banks, Michael Dean Perry, Clay Matthews & Bob Golic pic.twitter.com/XDR8WIRUGR
— Joey Rivaldo20 (@JoeyRivaldo20) December 15, 2020
On October 12, 1986, in a 20-7 Cleveland win over the Kansas City Chiefs, Golic’s play helped the Browns defense limit the Chiefs to only 43 rushing yards (on 21 rushing attempts) and 83 “net pass yards”.
Golic also helped the Browns defense hold the San Diego Chargers to only 41 rushing yards (on 21 rushing attempts) in a 47-17 Browns defeat of the Chargers on December 21, 1986.
In 1986, Golic was named second team All-Pro by the Newspaper Enterprise Association. In addition, Golic received his second consecutive Pro Bowl invitation in 1986.
With a 12-4 record, Cleveland won its second consecutive AFC Central Division title in 1986.
Golic’s play helped Cleveland’s defense rank in the NFL regular season in 1986 tied for second in most recovered fumbles (19).
The Browns played the New York Jets in a divisional round playoff game on January 3, 1987.
Before the game, a New York Times article was headlined, “GOLIC IS STRONG POINT FOR BROWNS”, and stated:
“Golic is good enough so that opponents see to it that he is blocked at least twice and sometimes three times. ‘I get hit from all directions,’ [Golic] said. ‘That’s my job.’
With Golic starting the playoff game at nose tackle, the Browns allowed a first quarter touchdown to the Jets, but then only one more New York touchdown the rest of the game.
Cleveland defeated the Jets 23-20 in double overtime (then the third longest playoff game in NFL history).
It was Cleveland’s first NFL playoff win in 17 years and Golic’s first NFL playoff victory ever.
Golic said after the game:
“We [boldly] went where no man has gone before. I have had some great thrills over the years. But nothing, never anything, close to this.”
The following week, on January 11, 1987, in the AFC championship game, Golic started at nose tackle, but the Browns lost to the Denver Broncos 23-20 in overtime.
In 1987 (when, because of a players’ strike, only 15 regular season games were played, and many players missed three additional games), Golic played in and started 12 regular season games.
On November 15, 1987, Golic had half a sack of future Pro Football Hall of Fame Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly, as Cleveland defeated the Bills 27-21.
In a 24-17 Browns victory over the Los Angeles Raiders on December 20, 1987, Golic had a sack of Raiders quarterback Marc Wilson.
Golic received his third consecutive Pro Bowl invitation in 1987.
The Browns had a 10-5 record in 1987 and won their third consecutive AFC Central Division title.
Golic contributed to Cleveland’s defense ranking in the NFL regular season in 1987 second in fewest points allowed (239), third in fewest total passing and rushing yards allowed (4,264), second in fewest rushing yards allowed (1,433), and tied for fifth in lowest average yards per rushing attempt allowed (3.6).
Cleveland did not have Golic for its playoff run in 1987, as he broke his right arm in the last regular season game of 1987 against the Pittsburgh Steelers and missed the 1987 playoffs.
Without Golic, the Browns defeated the Indianapolis Colts 38-21 in a divisional round playoff game on January 9, 1988, before losing to the Denver Broncos 38-33 in the AFC championship game on January 17, 1988.
Golic returned to the playing field in 1988, starting all 16 regular season games.
On October 16, 1988, Golic helped Cleveland’s defense limit the Philadelphia Eagles to only 48 “net pass yards”, as the Browns defeated the Eagles 19-3.
Golic’s play helped the Browns defense hold the Houston Oilers to only 37 rushing yards (on 23 rushing attempts) in a 28-23 Cleveland victory over the Oilers on December 18, 1988.
Cleveland posted a 10-6 record in 1988 and earned a wild card playoff berth.
The Browns played the Houston Oilers in a wild card playoff game on December 24, 1988.
Golic started the game at nose tackle, but Cleveland lost to the Houston Oilers 24-23.
The playoff game against Houston turned out to be Golic’s last game with the Browns.
Golic became an unconditional free agent after the 1988 season.
When the Browns did not sign him, Golic signed with the Los Angeles Raiders.
For four years, from 1989 to 1992, Golic played for the Raiders.
In 1989, Golic started all 16 regular season games at nose tackle and had three and a half sacks.
Golic started all 16 regular season games at left defensive tackle in 1990.
He had four sacks and recovered two fumbles.
He also started two playoff games at left defensive tackle in 1990 (as the Raiders defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 20-10 in a divisional round playoff game on January 13, 1991, before losing 51-3 to the Buffalo Bills in the AFC championship game on January 20, 1991).
In 1991, Golic had one sack and one recovered fumble in playing in 16, and starting 14, regular season games at left defensive tackle.
He also started a wild card playoff game at left defensive tackle against the Kansas City Chiefs on December 28, 1991; the Raiders lost the game to the Chiefs 10-6.
In Golic’s last NFL season, Golic played in nine, and started seven, regular season games at left defensive tackle in 1992.
Golic retired from the NFL before the beginning of the 1993 season.
The Years After the NFL
Golic married Karen Baughman in 1996.
She was a ballerina and “Raiderette” (Raiders cheerleader).
Golic and Karen have three children.
Raiders teammate and Pro Football Hall of Famer Howie Long said about Golic:
“Bob would talk to the wall if it had a notepad attached to it.”
It is therefore not surprising that talking would be a big part of Golic’s life after he retired from the NFL.
As an actor, Golic is most known for playing the role of Mike Rogers on the television show, Saved by the Bell: The College Years.
He also appeared on the television show, Home and Family, on The Family Channel.
As a broadcaster, Golic has been an NFL analyst on NBC.
He has also worked as a sports reporter for televisions stations, and hosted sports talk radio programs, in the Los Angeles and Cleveland areas.
In addition, Golic opened a restaurant and bar in downtown Cleveland’s Warehouse District (Bob Golic’s Sports Bar & Grille) and served as Vice President of Football Operations for the Cleveland Crush, a team in the Lingerie Football League.
Golic lives in the Cleveland area.
In 2011, Golic was inducted into the Greater Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame.
Golic was inducted into the Cleveland Browns Legends Program in 2015.
In 2016, Golic was inducted into the Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame.
Nose tackle is not the “sexiest” position on the defense.
Even the best nose tackles generally do not have a significant number of sacks or score defensive touchdowns.
Golic himself has made deprecating comments about the position of nose tackle, stating:
“To play nose tackle in the NFL, you have to be unemployed or crazy. I was unemployed. The other part is still up in the air.”
“If you’re mad at your kid, you can either raise him to be a nose tackle or send him out to play on the freeway. It’s about the same.”
“If you’re mad at your kid, you can either raise him to be a nose tackle or send him out to play on the freeway. It’s about the same.”
— Bob Golic pic.twitter.com/UEj4q2nRHV
— FNF Coaches (@fnfcoaches) October 16, 2020
Notwithstanding these comments, a skilled nose tackle can be a critical component of a successful defense.
Such was the case with Golic and the Browns defense.
His play was definitely an important factor in Cleveland making the playoffs in five, and winning the AFC Central Division title in three, of Golic’s seven seasons with the Browns.
“Being born and raised in Cleveland and being a Browns fan all my life and then coming and playing for the Browns. It was nice.”
Browns fans would say it was very “nice” to obtain one of the best defensive tackles in Cleveland history, Bob Golic, for only a $100 waivers price – definitely one of the most cost-effective acquisitions in Browns history.