The NFL playoffs are in full swing. And you know what goes well with football? Beer. This post has both football and beer.
Mike and Brian McMenamins' uncle, Don Deeks (1923-1995), was quite the athlete – during high school, his specialties were throwing the javelin and discus and playing football. After high school, he received both track and football scholarships to the University of Washington. In 1944, Don and his Husky teammates made it all the way to the Rose Bowl to play against the USC Trojans. (Because of wartime travel restrictions, the bowl game featured two teams from the Pacific Coast Conference.) According to one Husky history site, listening to Bill Stern announce that game on Husky radio, calling it in his excitement "this enormous, huge Rose Bowl," was a highlight they'll never forget. The legendary Stern referred to Don (who stood 6'4" and weighed in at 238 lbs.) as "Tiny" Deeks, shown in the photo here, taking down USC running back Milford Dreblow in that '44 game. Even though Washington was the 15-point favorite to win the game, the Huskies were soundly defeated, 29-0.
Despite the Rose Bowl routing, Deeks was taken as a fourth-round draft pick for the National Football League the following year. He was signed by the Boston Yanks. The who?, you ask. This short-lived NFL franchise operated for four seasons from 1944-48. Deeks was a lineman for the Yanks for three seasons before switching to the Washington Redskins followed by a season with the Green Bay Packers. Back then, a player in the NFL was lucky to make $7,000 a year. (For comparison's sake, today's rookie NFL players earn a league minimum of over $7,000 a week.)
After Deeks' brief NFL career ended in 1948, he returned to the Pacific Northwest where he ran a store and restaurant in Portland for four years before moving his family to Bend. His kids attended Catholic elementary school at St. Francis, today known as McMenamins Old St. Francis School.
A 1978 article about Deeks for the Tri-County News says that at age 55, the former lineman "looks like he could still shake a couple of teeth loose with a shoulder block."
This weekend, the OSF Brewery will host the first-ever High Gravity Extravaganza, in which the theme is "GO BIG OR GO HOME." Sounds like something an NFL player might say, don't you think?
So if you find yourself in Central Oregon this weekend for the brewfest at Old St. Francis School, have a look around for several framed photographs of Don Deeks (like this one, made out to his nephew Mike) as you enjoy McMenamins brews along with beers from other Bend breweries.