Dale Dodrill never was sure just how good a football player he was. All he knew was that he loved the game. But like many athletes in his era, Dodrill nearly missed the chance to put his great talents on display. After leading Loveland High School to the 1942 state championship, the two-way lineman joined the army and went to Europe to fight Hitler.
After World War II ended, Dodrill was eager to go to college and start playing the game he loved. He thought it would be nice to play close to home at Denver University. But DU wouldn’t allow him to play as a freshman. Same story at the University of Colorado. Both schools would learn to regret that decision.
“After being in the service, I didn’t want to wait – I wanted to play four years,” he said “I went up to Colorado A&M and (former coach) Bob Davis said I could play as a freshman as long as I was good enough. If I hadn’t made the varsity, I really don’t know where I would have ended up.”
Dodrill ended up being one of the cornerstones in the greatest era in Colorado A&M (now Colorado State University) football history. The Aggies were 28-11-1 during Dodrill’s four years and he played in the 1949 Raisin Bowl.
Dodrill played with such greats as Thurman “Fum” McGraw and Jack Christiansen – both members of the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame – on that Raisin Bowl team.
When Dodrill graduated in 1950 he figured his playing days were over, even though he was a three-time All-Skyline conference performer. But that’s when he was invited to play in the East-West Shrine Game and the Chicago Tribune All-Star Game following his senior year.
“I never figured I was as good as those guys from the East Coast we read about all the time,” he said. “But when I played in those all-star games I found that I was just as good as they were,” Maybe better. He was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers and went on to star with that team for nine seasons. He was All-Pro five times.
Dodrill left the Steelers in 1959 to become an assistant coach with the fledging Denver Broncos. He was with the team in five of its first six years – one of just three coaches on the staff.
He left coaching in 1965 to start his own insurance business, which he operated in Lakewood. He and his wife Janet had two sons, Garrett and David.