Born: June 20, 1945
Town: Neptune City
David Homeyer Rowe was born June 20, 1945 in Neptune City. His family moved to Deptford in South Jersey when he was a boy. Dave’s boyhood was a little different than most. He wanted to play football but wasn’t allowed to, because he was way over the weight limit. Between 9th and 10th grade Dave had an amazing growth spurt and was recruited for the Spartans line by coach Ray Pickens.
Learning on the job, Dave developed into one of the most highly recruited linemen in the region. He towered over opponents at 6’7” and weight more than 250 pounds. He was quick and coordinated—he also starred on the hardwood for Deptford—and was recruited as a basketball forward and track athlete.
Like many New Jersey football stars, Dave was courted by Penn State. He accepted a scholarship and was a key member of their defensive line during the mid-1960s. This was actually a down period for the Nittany Lions, a transition time from Rip Engle to Joe Paterno, who became head coach in 1966, Dave’s senior year.
There were some good defensive linemen in the 1967 NFL Draft, including Bubba Smith, Alan Page and another Rowe (Bob, from Western Michigan). Dave was taken by the expansion New Orleans Saints with the final pick of the second round. Dave played right tackle on the Saints’ defensive line with future Hall of Famer Doug Atkins for three years. In 1968, he was named to the Pro Bowl—the one and only Saint to earn this honor. The Saints traded Dave to the Houston Oilers after the 1970 season and the Oilers, in turn, traded Dave to the Patriots. He played for New England for three years before another trade sent him to the Chargers.
Dave was one of the league’s better interior linemen, equally good as a defensive tackle or nose tackle. Unfortunately, he was unable to showcase his skill for a winning team. His big break came in 1976, when he was traded to the Oakland Raiders. Dave was a good fit in Oakland. Although he was more religious than his teammates, he had a tremendous sense of humor and appreciated the dysfunctional family atmosphere fostered by owner Al Davis. And, as it turned out, he was in the right place at the right time, as several key linemen went down with injuries. John Madden changed the defense to a 3–4, Dave stepped into the nose tackle slot between Otis Sistrunk and John Matuszak, and Oakland lost only one game on its way to the first Super Bowl in franchise history.
Dave played three years for Oakland and one final season for the Baltimore Colts. Known for his easy manner and knowledge of the game, he went right from the field to the broadcast booth. In 1987, Dave was part of a history-making broadcast team when he partnered in the booth with Gayle Sierens to call the Seahawks–Chiefs game for NBC. It marked the first time a female play-by-play announcer had worked a network game for the NFL. In 2007, Dave almost died after developing a staph infection while recovering from shoulder surgery. It took five more surgeries and several months of recovery to correct the problem. He was back in the booth before the 2008 college season was a month old. Currently, Dave works for ESPN, calling SEC games.