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Williams: Coach Bob was one of a kind

11:40 PM, Jul. 29, 2013  |  Comments
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In our business, we're supposed to remain objective and not become too close with the coaches and athletes we cover.

But sometimes a person is so endearing and so genuine that you can't help but be drawn to them on more than a professional level.

Pacelli football coach Bob Raczek was one of those people.

He sincerely cared about the kids he coached and the coaches who helped him enjoy such a remarkable and successful coaching run.

And he made you feel like he cared about you as a person - not the journalist or as a potential public relations sounding board.

News of his passing after a long battle with prostate cancer on Sunday hit me hard. In many respects, I felt like a family member died.

He referred to me as "my boy" and I called him Mike Holmgren because of our many conversations about the Green Bay Packers.

Both were legends at their respective coaching destinations, and deserved to be mentioned in the same breath albeit in the give-and-take humorous jabs we would enjoy with one another.

The truth of the matter was Bob Raczek never sought publicity nor wanted the spotlight on him. In search of comments after games, he would often tell you to just talk to the kids.

His modesty was real, and so was his sense of humor.

Every August, a week or two into the start of high school football practice, we would meet in his closet of an office, to discuss his team for a season preview.

At some point during our conversation, a question about what his expectations for the team were for the upcoming season would be posed.

And every single time the answer would be predictable.

"Scott, we'll be lucky to win two or three games," he would inevitably reply, a hint of a smirk on his face.

He not only knew how to coach the game, ranking second on the all-time career coaching wins list with 360, while winning three state championships, he knew how to play the game, pretending to keep expectations within reason.

Speaking of coaching, while walking the sidelines covering a game, Raczek would occasionally give me a chance to play coach, and ask me if I wanted to call a play.

And without hesitating, I would call for the double-reverse flea flicker. Needless to say, the offensive coordinator's job was safe with me around.

He made my job fun and anything but mundane.

While football obviously meant the world to him, you don't stay in a profession for 52 years without having an intense passion for the sport, he never treated football as though it were life or death.

Now I'm sure coach Raczek is in heaven hanging out with Vince Lombardi, and many other of his coaching heroes.

High school football in Wisconsin will miss him.

And I'll miss having the opportunity to cover not only a great coach, but an even better person again.

R.I.P., coach Bob.

What's your take on the Packers Family Night change?

Retrieving results.
Watching practice is fine.(Your vote)
15%
576 votes
I'd rather watch a scrimmage.(Your vote)
23%
856 votes
I don't want to pay to watch practice.(Your vote)
27%
1017 votes
It doesn't matter to me.(Your vote)
34%
1271 votes

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If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

Special Reports