As the credits wind down, McColl stretches his large body across a chair next to the fireplace. "The years we spent in Korea were absolutely the two best years of our lives," he says. "Medically, it was an unforgettable experience. And I think it brought us even closer together as a family. I was one of three American doctors working with 18 Korean doctors. About a third of our time was spent with lepers, another third with orphans and the rest with the general population. I had never been exposed to leprosy before—actually we call it Hansen's disease here because the very word 'leprosy' is part of the stigma that attaches to the disease. What is not commonly known is that now with drug therapy it is curable and it is probably the least communicable of all communicable diseases. Ninety-four percent of the spouses of leprosy sufferers do not get it. Leprosy is a disease of the nerves caused by bacteria that under a microscope look like those that cause tuberculosis. Our job was to rehabilitate those who had endured its devastating effects and to help integrate them into society. I think we made dramatic progress. And we are still making progress.
"When I quit football, I was only 29 and at the peak of my career. I was healthy and uninjured [he never missed a game because of injury in his eight years with the Bears], but I was in my orthopedic residency and I knew I was taking football one year at a time. George Halas told me he still wanted me to play, but I thought it was a good time to get out. As it turned out Halas didn't lose much, because the Bears were without a tight end for only one year. Then they got Mike Ditka, and I don't think they missed me at all."
One entire wall of the McColl house is filled with family photographs. All six of his children, three sons and three daughters, are Stanford graduates, and the three boys were athletes at the school. Duncan, now 33, was an All-America defensive end who played briefly with the Redskins, and John, 30, was a star volleyball player. Milt, 29, his father's mirror image, insists that he and his brothers felt no pressure. "I think maybe some of the good things came genetically, but Dad's philosophy at home was laissez-faire," Milt says. "All of us made our own decisions."
McColl steps outside onto the deck. It is a breezy day, and the ocean waves are white in the bright sunshine. "My own father was a doctor here in San Diego, and I was always led to believe he was the greatest athlete who ever lived," he says. "His athletic achievements, I later learned, were four: 1) he was a substitute fullback on the University of Idaho freshman team; 2) he was captain, quarterback and coach of the Wisconsin Medical School intramural team; 3) he won the broad jump at a 1918 track meet at Fort Greenleaf, Georgia; and 4) he once played in a basketball game against Honus Wagner. I never saw any of those feats, and Milt was too young to see me play.
"As for his living in my shadow...well, here's a story for you. Two or three years ago Milt was scheduled to be the speaker at a banquet in Sacramento. The master of ceremonies gave him this long introduction, detailing his career at Stanford and with San Francisco, and then, as an afterthought, he said, proud of his own powers of recollection. 'Oh yes, and Milt's father, Milt Sr., also played football.' So I ask you, who's in whose shadow?"
Bob Love was called Butterbean for his fondness for that southern staple. In eight seasons with the Chicago Bulls of the NBA, he developed into one of the league's premier forwards, leading his team in scoring for seven straight seasons. He was named to five NBA All-Star teams before finishing his career with the Seattle SuperSonics in 1977. Now 46, he is corporate director of health and sanitation for the 35 restaurants in the Nordstrom department store chain, headquartered in Seattle.
Love removes his jacket and rises to his full 6'8". He is a formidable presence in the tiny office of his speech therapist, Susan Hamilton, but he seems more like a school kid called on to recite. "Life after sports was really tough," he begins.
Hamilton interrupts. "Bob, you blinked, and there was an 'uh' in there, which is a signal you're going too fast. And don't forget about eye contact."
Love is rehearsing a talk he will give on "career awareness" to students at Seattle's Nathan Hale High School. He starts over. "Life after sports was really tough. It was doubly tough for me because I was a stutterer.... I am a stutterer." He interrupts himself this time. "Susan, I want to say I am a stutterer here because that will take the pressure off right away." "Good," says Hamilton.
"I was born in Bastrop, Louisiana," Love continues. "We were a poor family. There were 14 children, and we made our living doing odd jobs. But I had a great imagination. The one thing that held me back was my stuttering...."