A Whole Different Draft From 1980

Cobber football assistant coach Dave Klug was drafted in the 1980 NFL draft by the Kansas City Chiefs.
Cobber football assistant coach Dave Klug was drafted in the 1980 NFL draft by the Kansas City Chiefs.

Article reprinted courtesy of Fargo Forum and reporter Eric Peterson.

MOORHEAD — On the day Dave Klug would become an NFL Draft pick, the former Concordia Cobbers linebacker went to the campus to workout that morning. Forty years ago, it wasn't the event that it is now.

Klug didn't expect to get drafted in the first couple rounds, so he returned home around noon to be with his roommates for the draft, which in 1980 started on a Tuesday morning in late April.

"No parents, no party, no nothing," said Klug, who has been an assistant Cobbers football coach for the past 32 seasons.

Forty years ago, Klug was a fourth-round draft pick of the Kansas City Chiefs, marking the last time a Cobbers player was drafted. Former Concordia wide receiver Brandon Zylstra currently plays for the Carolina Panthers, but he signed as a free agent.

The 1980 NFL Draft also marked the first time the event was aired by a then-fledgling sports network ESPN, which was less than one year old. According to an ESPN press release prior to that 1980 draft, the television coverage was slated to start at 9 a.m. (CST) and end around 6 p.m., covering around six rounds. That's in stark contrast to the current wall-to-wall coverage of all seven rounds.

"It's gotten to be a huge thing now," said the 61-year-old Klug.

Klug doesn't remember if the draft was still on the air when Kansas City selected him No. 94 overall. When the fourth round started, he got a call from the New Orleans Saints first, saying they planned to draft Klug if he was still available. He wasn't. Ten or so minutes later, he got a call from the Chiefs.

"They said they were going to take me," Klug said. "I was on the phone I think when they probably announced it. … I don't remember hearing my name on the TV."

Two picks later, New Orleans selected Michigan defensive back Mike Jolly.

When the Saints called Klug, he said he was excited about the prospect of going to New Orleans since former Concordia defensive lineman Barry Bennett was with the Saints. Bennett was drafted in the third round of the 1978 NFL Draft.

"I'd seen (Bennett) go through the process, but it was all new to me," said Klug, who is from Litchfield, Minn. "I was a small-town kid."

Klug was with his four roommates for the draft, including former Concordia men's hockey coach Steve Baumgartner, who was a hockey player for the Cobbers at the time. Klug said the house they lived in south of Main Avenue near the U.S. Post Office in Moorhead was torn down a few years later.

"I didn't always live in the finest places," Klug cracked.

Klug said he didn't have an agent until after he was drafted. He didn't play for the Chiefs during the 1980 season due to a lower leg injury that he suffered doing pre-draft testing with the Minnesota Vikings. Klug added the injury wasn't diagnosed until right before training camp and it required surgery.

"It was a lackluster start to my NFL career," said Klug, who played three seasons with the Chiefs from 1981-1983.

Klug played in 26 games for the Chiefs, making two starts. The Detroit Lions selected Oklahoma Sooners running back Billy Sims with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1980 draft. The Cincinnati Bengals took future Hall of Famer offensive tackle Anthony Munoz, who played at Southern California, with the third overall pick. That draft had 12 rounds.

Klug said after he was drafted, he remembers doing a newspaper interview. Later that day, one of his friends had a barbecue at their parent's house for a group of around 10 or so Concordia seniors.

"A photographer showed up and took a picture of me and I was holding a keg cup and you could see a Budweiser between my fingers," Klug said. "That caused some issues at the school afterward, but everybody was pretty cool about it."