Rohn Stark, Steelers Punter, 1995
First, can you let readers know what you are doing with yourself since your time in the NFL including Platinum Properties HAWAII and how you got started in this post-NFL direction?
I went to my first pro bowl after the 1986 season and feel in love with Hawaii, specifically Maui. I played my 16 year career dreaming of retiring here. Upon retiring from the NFL in 1998 my wife Ann and I moved our family to Maui. I quickly began buying property as investments and found I had a knack for the real estate business.
You were Baltimore’s second round draft pick in ’82 as a punter. That’s a very high pick for a punter – why do you think Baltimore selected you so high in the draft and were you surprised?
Not really. I was projected to go very early. Dallas called me prior to draft and said they would use their second round pick on me if I was committed to playing football. I was world-ranked in the decathlon at the time so there was a question if I would continue training for the ’84 Olympics instead of playing in the NFL.
What was your biggest adjustment to the NFL and how did you make that adjustment?
Having played at FSU and playing for two national championships I was accustomed to high pressure situation. Punting is a “skill” position so I didn’t have to adjust to other players. It is just you and the ball.
Who helped you most as a rookie to adjust to the NFL – both on and off the field – and how did they do so?
Again, punting is so individual that no one person stands out. The place kicked was Dan Miller from University of Miami. We were both rookies. We were on or own! As a punter with the Colts in that day I got a lot of work on Sundays!
How as a punter did you approach practices/improving your craft? How did you handle down time/monotony as a punter?
I always trained myself as an athlete, not a punter. I was also very involved with practices and workout with the other guys. I made good use of the time I wasn’t needed on the practice field by training.
You were there when Baltimore made its famous move to Indianapolis. What were your and the rest of the players’ thoughts on the move – how it happened and the new city you ended up in?
I knew we were moving but did not know where until I read it in the newspaper. Baltimore had a small group of very hardcore fans. I felt really bad for them. However, the city did not support the team. The stadium was embarrassing. The locker rooms had tile falling off in the showers and they were so dirty you couldn’t get on the floor to stretch.
The team made the right decision at the time to move. I am glad they now have the Ravens and support them so well.
You are the only NFL player to have played against the Baltimore Ravens as an Indianapolis Colt. What was that like for you – any special thoughts/feelings on that?
Not really. By that time they were just another team.
You played for Indianapolis/Baltimore for thirteen years then found yourself in Pittsburgh in ’95. What prompted that move for you and how difficult was it for you to play for another team after so long in one place?
I love the Colts and always did. I still trade email with front office people. My move was motivated by the hope of playing in the Superbowl. The Colt has struggled the 13 years I was with them. Free agency was new so I tested the waters. I played in my only Super Bowl that year.
How did the Steelers differ from Baltimore both as a team and organization?
The Steelers has just come of a loss in the AFC championship game. Expectations were very high and that translated to intensity every day and especially on Sunday. Fun stuff!
That said, we beat the Colt in the AFC Championship game that year so I guess they had something going on too!
You made it to the Super Bowl that season – what was that like for you and what was the mindset of that team going in to the game?
It was a very intense and confident atmosphere. We definitely went to Arizona to win.
Who were some of the biggest characters on those Steelers teams and what made them so? Any examples of the hijinks on the team?
It was a very balanced team across the board. Tons of experience and pro bowl players. Our defense led the way with Woodson, Lloyd, Green and Kirkland.
You left the team after that ’95 season – what prompted that move and do you think fans appreciate the difficulty many players have in dealing with the sometimes transient nature of the game as they try to make teams?
ALL players are transient. If they don’t think so they are fooling themselves. Every era is a keeper of the game while they enjoy a fleeting career. I count myself lucky to have experienced the pinnacle in team sports. Great fans will always love their favorite players. That is a very nice thing.
How difficult was of for you to transition to a post-NFL life/career and hat steps did you take during your career to do so?
I was always financially minded and tried to make good decisions. Being successful in life is more than making money. I have always found that if you treat people right along the way opportunity will present.
Working with people I like in real estate has been a pleasure. I start with a client and end up with a friend.
Any last thoughts for readers?
Pittsburgh loves its Steelers. It was a great place to live and play!