Former Arizona Cardinals Guard Conrad Dobler, Dubbed Football's 'Dirtiest Player,' Dead at 72

"I'll do anything I can get away with to protect my quarterback," the NFL star famously said in 1977

Conrad Dobler
Photo: Bob Levey/Getty

Conrad Dobler, a standout player and former guard for the Arizona Cardinals in the 1970s, has died. He was 72.

The Arizona Cardinals announced the news on Monday, when he died; no cause of death was given.

One of the top offensive linemen during his heyday, Dobler was regarded as the league's "dirtiest player" at the time. ESPN granted him the No. 1 designation in this category, noting that he "punched Mean Joe Greene, he kicked Merlin Olsen in the head, he bit, he gouged, and once, he spit on a downed and injured opponent, the Eagles' Bill Bradley."

Conrad Dobler
Focus on Sport/Gett

Dobler embraced this label, telling Sports Illustrated in a 1977 article, "I'll do anything I can get away with to protect my quarterback."

He even managed to parlay this persona into TV commercials post-retirement from the field, which humorously played off his reputation for being a troublemaker.

"Our hearts go out to the family, friends and former teammates of Conrad Dobler," Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill said in a statement. "He was the kind of tough, physical and fierce player that you love to line up with as a teammate and hate to line up against as an opponent."

"On the field, Conrad was a big reason for the success of the Cardiac Cards of the 1970s. Away from it, he brought authentic joy and caring to everyone who had the privilege of being his friend and that is what I will remember most."

Conrad Dobler

Dobler contributed significantly to the Cardinals' teams that won at least 10 games from 1974 to 1976 under Hall of Fame coach Don Coryell. He was a Pro Bowler from 1975 to 1977.

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Dobler, a fifth-round pick in 1972, spent his first six seasons with the Cardinals, and also put in time with the New Orleans Saints and Buffalo Bills before retiring in 1981.

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