Gesek recalls good ol' days with Cowboys, Raiders
Thursday, July 28, 2005
John Gesek's two Super Bowl rings are tucked away in a safe place in Texas. They're reminders of his National Football League days as an offensive lineman with the Dallas Cowboys, a team that also starred the likes of Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin and Daryl Johnston.
"As you look back you always remember it as being a lot of fun, but it was a lot of hard work," Gesek said. "The rewards were great. There was a lot of camaraderie and a lot of good guys.
"To come from a low-round draft choice, to be able to play on one of the better teams in the NFL and play with some of the guys that will inevitably be in the Hall of Fame, that was a tremendous experience with good friendships. It was a good time."
Gesek, a guard-center who retired from football in 1997, continues to follow the game. He works as an investment advisor for McKeel, Gesek Financial Advisory Services in Coppell, Texas -- but watching TV in his living room on Sundays in the fall he pays close attention to two teams: the Oakland Raiders and Dallas Cowboys.
"I love to watch football on Sundays still," he said.
Gesek enjoyed playing for Norv Turner when Turner was the Cowboys' offensive coordinator and later as the Washington Redskins' head coach. Turner is starting his second year as the coach of the Raiders, who report to training camp today at the Napa Valley Marriott.
"I think the world of Norv and his whole family," Gesek said. "I think he's probably one of the best offensive minds in football. I think Norv obviously has all of the skills that it takes to be a wonderful head coach.
"Everybody wants to blame the head coach, but when things go bad, the reality is that you can only play with what you have, and injuries play a bigger part in the game than most people would like to really give credit to. I think Norv will try to instill his principles in a team.
"Personally and as somebody that I was very close to, I have all the confidence in the world that he has the ability."
The Raiders stay at the Marriott and have two-a-day practices at Redwood Middle School, as they prepare for the exhibition and regular season. This is the Raiders' 10th summer in Napa.
Gesek, who was in Napa last week to play golf with PGA Tour player Scott McCarron on the Silverado Resort North Course, also has a history with the Raiders.
He was drafted by the Raiders in the 10th round out of Cal State Sacramento in 1987 and spent three years with them. It was a big jump for Gesek, going from an NCAA Division II non-scholarship school to the NFL.
He was limited to three games as a rookie due to injuries, then started six games his second year and was a full-time starter the following season.
Just before the season started in 1990, he was traded to Dallas.
"At the time I thought it was just the absolute worst thing that could ever happen to us," said Gesek, a California native who went to San Ramon Valley High School-Danville. "But you look back and think, what a great blessing that was, as well as to play for a guy like Jimmy Johnson and to be part of a team that was by far one of the best dynasties in professional sports."
Gesek was with the Cowboys when they won back-to-back championships, defeating Buffalo 52-17 in Super Bowl XXVII, and downing the Bills 30-13 in Super Bowl XXVIII.
He started at right guard in his first Super Bowl and center in the other one.
Gesek spent four years with the Cowboys. He and his wife, Gina (Rhine), a 1983 Vintage High graduate, make their home with their family in the Dallas area.
"Everybody in business likes it better when the Cowboys are winning," he said. "Business is better in Dallas when the Cowboys are winning. That's just the way it is."
Gesek left the Cowboys in 1994 to play for Turner in Washington.
"He made me an offer I couldn't refuse and I went there and finished my career," said Gesek.
Gesek had two years with the Redskins. He retired following the 1995 season due to a herniated disc in his neck.
"You play long enough and those types of things happen," he said. "You deal with them and go on. Team doctors don't tell you that you need to retire very often. When they tell you you need to retire, you should take it pretty serious. I did.
"It was a great career. I couldn't have asked for anything better. We've been very fortunate since to have a pretty easy transition from sports to the business world. It's been good for me."
Gesek and McCarron, a former Napa resident who also went to Vintage High and played golf for the Crushers and UCLA before turning professional, were in town last weekend for a reunion and to visit with close friends in the Napa Valley.
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