The Denver Broncos added a number of key pieces on both sides of the ball this offseason. They signed tight end Owen Daniels to help bolster the offense and add a veteran presence familiar with new head coach Gary Kubiak’s scheme. They signed defensive end, and self-proclaimed ninja Antonio Smith, to add a quality pass rusher to the rotation in new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips’ unique 3-4 defense.
However, of the dozens of changes the Broncos have made to their roster and coaching staff, perhaps none have been more important than the signing of defensive line coach Bill Kollar. The first round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in the 1974 NFL draft, Kollar’s been coaching in the NFL for more than 30 years—most recently as the defensive line coach with the Houston Texans.
The list of defensive studs he’s coached includes the likes of J.J. Watt, Mario Williams, and Jadeveon Clowney. That’s just in the last six seasons. Kollar will no doubt be an asset to the Broncos defensive staff in 2015.
Yet, Kollar’s coaching prowess isn’t the reason he’s captured the imaginations of players and fans across the country. Bill Kollar has captured the imaginations of players and fans across the country because Bill Kollar is a badass.
In fact, he’s such a mean S.O.B. that he once fought a bear with his bare hands…and won. Kollar told the story of his run in with one of nature’s fiercest creatures while being inducted in the Senior Bowl Hall of Fame in celebration of the 40th Anniversary of his being named MVP of that game.
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The video of that evening is below, so I won’t burden you with the details. It should be comforting for fans to know their defensive line coach is capable of keeping seven foot tall bears in line. So, keeping his defensive line unit on task shouldn’t be much of a problem.
According to Pro Football Focus, last season the Broncos had the 11th best defensive line in the NFL. While that may be satisfactory for some teams, the Broncos have more than $32M invested in their front seven this season. Last week, Broncos outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware echoed the team’s Super Bowl or bust mantra for this season. Kollar will need to get everything he can out of his unit if Denver is going to meet their lofty championship goals.
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