Merrill Douglas will be honored, along with four other Utah athletes, at the 19th Annual Utah Sports Hall of Fame Banquet at the Tri-Arc Hotel, 161 W. Sixth South, Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. Cost of the dinner is $15 and the public is invited to attend. For information call Dick Ball at 484-3265.
As a Utah schoolboy, Merrill Douglas dreamed of making it in the big time of the NFL. But few athletes have made it more than once.Douglas was a standout football player at Granite and Olympus High schools. He moved on to an all-conference career with the University of Utah, where he won the Skyline Conference scoring championship in 1957 with 66 points on 11 touchdowns. He was the second-leading rusher in the leaguethat year.
Then came his professional football career. Douglas was a sixth-round draft choice of the Chicago Bears, and played five years with the Bears, Dallas and Philadelphia in the NFL.
Following his pro playing career he went to work for the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Department, where he has remained for 25 years.
Douglas made the NFL for the second time when he was named a league official almost eight years ago. He previously worked as a prep, PCAA (Big West) and Big Sky Conference official.
Douglas was in San Francisco, working the 49ers game against Minnesota last week, and this week he will move on to Seattle for the Seahawk's game against Buffalo.
Douglas says working in the NFL gives a unique perspective on players and coaches--one the public doesn't always see. He cites Giants' quarterback Phil Simms as a "top notch person."
Coaches vary widely on their treatment of officials. "Some of the coaches are as neat and nice as others are mean," says Douglas.
He singles out San Francisco Coach Bill Walsh as one who "will treat you kind of like a human being."
Coaches like Dallas' Tom Landry hardly say a word, says Douglas, "but he has one or two that make up for it. People on sideline say they don't see anything, but he can get his two cents worth in."
One of the alltime great official-haters was former Minnesota Coach Bud Grant, says Douglas. "That guy hated officials. He had nothing good to say about any of us."
Douglas says being inducted into the Hall of Fame is an honor, and a surprise. "I was surprised. I'd seen those pictures (of Hall of Famers) at the Salt Palace and I kind of thought, 'I wonder if I'd ever get in.' When I heard rumors they were considering me, I thought it would really be great. To be chosen is a neat honor."