BILLINGS — If you go all the way back to the late 1960s, you’ll find the University of Montana’s first all-American football player. Bob Beers was a standout linebacker for the Griz during his playing days before coaching at the high school, collegiate, and professional ranks. His career came full circle in June when he was inducted into the Montana Football Hall of Fame.
“It’s kind of a humbling experience. You spend all your days working in football and then to be rewarded with this, it’s really humbling. You don’t expect it. You really don’t. I’m happy, but at the same time, why me? Seriously. It’s just one of those things. I’m a crappy golfer, mediocre fisherman. I don’t know, it’s really an honor,” said Beers.
Beers has seen more football in his day than most can consume in their entire lifetime. It’s not necessarily any team or one play that stands out, though.
“I was a high school coach, a college coach and I’ve coached professionally. Each one is a little different, but they all play for the same reason. They loved the game. The game meant something to them. It builds character. It really does. I know football is going through a tough struggle with the CTE and all those things, but there’s still no game that teaches you character by getting knocked down, getting up. Not everybody gets a trophy in football. They keep score. I think that’s really important. I think that builds character when you lose. I think we find out what we’re made of,” said Beers.
Following his days playing for the Griz, Beers spent some time coaching in Montana and then in the NFL as a scout for the Denver Broncos, Houston Texans and Detroit Lions. While Beers still has a love for the game and helping and developing young players, this past year took a bit of a toll on him. It’s more likely you’ll find him on the river than on a football field.
“I’m retired in Butte, Montana. Last year worked out a lineman for an agent and tried to help him out a little bit, but with the COVID and stuff it just didn’t work out. So I think I’ve retired from that too," said Beers. "I think I’m just fishing from now on.”
Relocating himself back to Montana has been a blessing for Beers. He’s able to spend more time with his family than he has in years, including some of the young ones running around.
“I have great-grandkids. They are super. They all have their own talents, they’re all different, but they’re all funny. It’s been fun watching them grow up the last five years since I’ve been retired. Moving to Montana where the whole family is really important," said Beers. "It’s always home. From now until the time they plant me, then it’ll still be home after they plant me.”
Long after Beers is planted in the earth, he’ll be remembered as the first all-American from the University of Montana and a man with a genuine love and passion for the game.