KALISPELL — Montana might not be known for producing a plethora of NFL talent, but two former players who not only played in the NFL but also played in multiple Super Bowls call the Treasure State home, and they can recall playing in the big game like it was yesterday.
"Once you took the first couple of hits and started playing, it’s like playing in the backyard, you kind of tune that crowd out," former Miami Dolphins defensive end Doug Betters said over Zoom from Florida.
"You tune out the hype and all that other stuff. Up to that first couple of series, it’s an amazing experience, like a circus come to town, and you're a part of it and it was great memories and a lot of fun."
While Betters had the opportunity to play in both Super Bowl XVII and Super Bowl XIX under legendary coach Don Shula, he came up short in both games.
"An interesting quote that coach Shula said before the game, you know, everybody talks about two teams in game, and you're all treated equally and at the end of the game, you'll have only one team that they're talking about," said Betters.
"If you’re second place like Ricky Bobby said in his movie, if you ain't first you're last, you know, right?"
The 1983 NFL defensive player of the year currently resides in Lakeside, but he first learned to call the Treasure State home when he started his college football career as a Montana Grizzly in 1974.
"I got off that plane in Missoula, Montana, and I saw the mountains and Jack Swarthout, the coach, is out there to meet me and it’s kind of corny but that kind of déjà vu, it's like I've been here before or something," said a reminiscent Betters .
"But I know a lot of people that come to Montana feel that same thing. You know, it's a special place and it's a special kind of person that is really drawn to it. It's still the last best place."
Betters isn’t the only one who knows how special Montana is, as Helena native and former Dallas Cowboy Pat Donovan still calls it home.
"It’s great to have been from Montana," Donovan said over Zoom from Palm Springs. "You know, the thing about it is that I run into so many people who say, 'Yeah, oh god, I just hate the Cowboys. You know, I had to like them there for the time when you were playing because, you know, I knew you're from Helena,’ and these are guys for anywhere in Montana."
The four-time Pro Bowl offensive tackle played in Super Bowls X, XII and XIII under another NFL coaching legend, Tom Landry. Donovan and the Cowboys won Super Bowl XII 27-10 over the Denver Broncos, and over 40 years later he says the chaos hasn’t changed.
"You know, with training camp and offseason workouts and all that stuff, you got a lot in this too," said the current Whitefish resident. "I mean, just handling all that pressure in preparation and it's just a zoo. I mean, the Super Bowl week is just such a zoo."