(Editor's note: The 2021 Montana Football Hall of Fame Class was inducted June 26 at the Billings Hotel and Convention Center. Over the next few weeks, MTN Sports will bring you stories sharing what some of those inductees are up to in their lives after sports. Up first was one of the greatest voices in sports history, followed by an NFL offensive guru and a kicker from Helena that made it big.)
Montana State Bobcat fans have a memory bank full of Travis Lulay highlights. Lulay left Bozeman with school records in career passing yards, and single-season and career total offense, accolades that earned him an induction into the Montana Football Hall of Fame in June.
“When you’re playing the game, you’re kind of in the eye of the tornado. You’re just doing what’s next. You can’t plan way into the future. You don’t know whether you’re going to get hurt, traded, you don’t know what’s going to happen. So you’re just kind of hunkered down in the moment doing it, making the best decision at the time. You kind of don’t stop to think about, oh, what did that little milestone or that accomplishment or that win there, you don’t really think about that when you’re in it. When it ends you kind of start to look back and reflect on that a bit more. This is one of those opportunities. Wow," Lulay said. "Part of it is a little surreal, to be the old guy who is getting inducted for what you did in the past, but it really is humbling. Really cool. I’m super flattered to be here. It’s a special moment, it is.”
Lulay, an Oregon native, found Montana to be like home. Bobcat fans sure embraced him, especially after Lulay helped beat the Griz three times during his tenure, including a special victory his freshman year to end the streak. That upward trajectory of the Bobcat football program has continued on, as the stadium has a bit different of a look than Lulay remembers in his playing days.
“As a freshman in Missoula and we win that game, there were grown men crying on the field after the game. Had me thinking, ‘Holy cow, this is a big deal.‘ You kind of think of it more in hindsight. It was a long-suffering streak to our rivals over the mountains there in Missoula," said Lulay. "I made a lot of memories at Montana State. Obviously, being a part of a team that was kind of able to shift the direction of the football program was kind of a special thing. Right now you go back, turf stadium, it’s bowled in, they’re doing an expansion. It’s a little different deal than when I was there. As an alum, you wear a little bit of pride with that. We at least kept the ball moving in the right direction with the program.”
Following his time with the Bobcats, Lulay bounced around the NFL briefly before landing in the CFL with the BC Lions. In 2011, Lulay was named the CFL’s most outstanding player and was named MVP of the Grey Cup after leading the Lions to a victory over Winnipeg with 320 yards passing and two scores.
“That was pretty special. We won it in Vancouver, so it was in our home city. As an athlete, you’re wanting to be part of a championship team. We reached that in Canada. That was really a special thing, 10 years ago now," Lulay said. "Those are kind of the shining moments, those wins in Missoula, that time in Bozeman then winning a championship in the pros that really, really stick out for me.”
After 14 seasons of professional football, Lulay is finally putting his degree from MSU to use, as he joined the financial planning firm his father started in the 1980s back in Oregon. Between that and family time, he’s keeping himself busy.
“I tell people often that football is emotionally intense. The highs are really high, the lows are really low. I don’t have the same swings that I once did in my normal day-to-day," Lulay said. "It’s a little more level. Raising kids, we have three young girls – second grade, first grade and pre-K, just finished up. So raising kids, coaching youth sports and running the business with my dad and brother.”
Lulay may call Oregon home once again, but Bozeman will always welcome him in with open arms.