Harvey Dahl: Gridiron hero | NevadaAppeal.com
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Harvey Dahl: Gridiron hero

Steve Ranson | sranson@lahontanvalleynews.com
Harvey Dahl finished his NFL career with St. Louis.
Bob Donnan / ramsondemand.com |

He is the epitome of what hard work can produce. Through determination and his love of life, Fallon’s Harvey Dahl reached the pinnacle of success as an offensive lineman in the National Football League.

From Fallon’s Edward Arciniega Athletic Complex to the University of Nevada’s Mackay Stadium in Reno, Dahl showed the grit that makes both a gentlemen and player as he later competed in the NFL for three teams — San Francisco, Atlanta and St. Louis.

For what he brought on and off the field and with the pride he instilled in those who followed him in Northern Nevada, the University of Nevada Wolf Pack Hall of Fame is inducting the Churchill County High School graduate tonight along with the 2003-04 NCAA Sweet Sixteen men’s basketball team; golfer Rich Barcelo, football player Mike Crawford, Nevada men’s basketball coach Mark Fox, baseball player Jim Puzey, football player Mike Crawford and volleyball player Salaia Salave’a.

Crawford, a Whittell High School graduate who later played for the Miami Dolphins and Minnesota Vikings in the NFL, also has a strong Fallon tie and is married to Stacey Rogne.

Salave’a, a standout on the volleyball team from 2002-2006, played alongside Fallon’s Tristen Adams and Carly Sorensen in the starting lineup when the team had one of the top programs in the Western Athletic Conference.

“What an outstanding group of individuals to induct into our Hall of Fame this year,” athletics director Doug Knuth said. “Classes like this are what allow us to carry on the tradition of Wolf Pack athletics. We are very excited to welcome them back to campus this fall to honor all of their accomplishments.”

FEARED OFFENSIVE LINEMAN

Dahl expressed shock when he heard of his selection.

The 6-foot-5, 305-pound Dahl became one of the most feared offensive line players for Atlanta and St. Louis before he retired several years ago because of injuries.

“It came out of the blue, a nice surprise,” he said when the university contacted him.

In addition to being recognized at tonight’s dinner, Dahl, along with the other inductees, will be announced at halftime during Saturday’s football game against the University of Buffalo.

“I’m excited to go up and watch the game,” Dahl said of the midfield ceremony.

Though Dahl’s trips to Nevada are not as frequent as they once were, he finds time to visit family in Fallon and last year, the graduating class below him had their reunion.

“It was a good opportunity to see those guys,” said Dahl, who is married with two children and living in Santa Barbara, Calif. “I saw most of the class behind me.”

As he walked around the campus, Dahl noticed the construction boom from one end of the university to the other. He said the amount of building is exciting to see as the university strives to become one of the top institutions of higher learning in the West as well as the rest of the country. Walking around the campus and having flashbacks of his student days made Dahl feel good.

“It was definitely rewarding, and I enjoyed my time in Nevada,” he said.

COACH WEIGHS IN

Former Greenwave football coach and Wolf Pack offensive line coach Chris Klenakis didn’t spend hours or even days convincing Dahl that Nevada was a good fit. Dahl had made up his mind.

When he heard of Dahl’s selection, Klenakis was excited. Now a coach with the University of Louisville, Klenakis said he is so proud of Dahl and his accomplishments. Klenakis, who coached the Greenwave from 1987-1990, said Dahl worked hard to become a great competitor, on and off the field.

“No question. He will never get beaten because he is such a competitor,” Klenakis said. “That’s what the great ones are like. Harvey had a great NFL career and also a great career at Nevada.”

Klenakis said living the life of an NFL player is a rough one.

“They play hard between the snap and whistle. It’s a tough game,” Klenakis added.

Dahl remains true to his friends.

“I have a ton of close friends,” Dahl said. “It was a good college experience.”

From time to time, he keeps in touch with former players including Chance Kretschmer, a Wolf Pack running back who was nicknamed the Tonopah Tornado. Dahl said he still communicates with several close friends from the offensive line.

RISE OF AN NFL PLAYER

While with the Wolf Pack, Dahl earned First Team All-WAC honors in his junior and senior seasons. Dahl also was selected to play in the East-West Shrine gamein 2005.

Looking back, Dahl said he has many good memories of his Saturday afternoons on the gridiron. He enjoyed his freshman year, the Pack’s win over Timmy Chang and highly regarded Hawaii and defeating Washington in Seattle.

After the end of his playing days at Nevada, Dahl took the next step. Signed by Dallas in the spring of 2005 but released two months later, Dahl found a home with the San Francisco 49ers. He played on the practice squad for several years and also competed on the NFL Europe Rhein Fire team to gain more experience.

“I felt more sure about my techniques, and being in Europe helped,” Dahl told the Lahontan Valley News in an article 10 years ago.

During his time with the 49ers, then offensive line coach George Warhop developed a good working relationship with Dahl. Warhop poured the foundation for the Fallon product.

“He was always willing to work with me even after practice,” Dahl said.

Dahl, though, received his first break, but it meant uprooting and requiring him to move across the country to Atlanta in October 2007. The Falcons picked Dahl from the 49ers practice squad after placing Wayne Gandy on injured reserve. Dahl realized he had a chance to become a regular player if not a starter.

Dahl, a full-time starter for the Falcons in 2008, became known as the lineman who sprung open holes for gifted running back Michael Turner. Atlanta’s running game that year finished second in rushing in the NFL. The Falcons’ offensive line allowed quarterback Matt Ryan to be sacked only 17 times that season, a franchise record.

Atlanta reporter Dave Choate was impressed with Dahl:

“The undisputable part of this story: Dahl was the best Falcon ever to wear #73. The bearded guard with the reputation for being a low-down, dirty, nail-chomping son of a monkey’s uncle, Dahl spent but four fleeting seasons in Atlanta, serving as a full-time starter just twice.

“He made up for that by being a tenacious run blocker, capable pass protector and a dude who Falcons fans more or less universally adored.”

After the 2010 season Dahl signed a four-year contract with St. Louis, but injuries followed the Fallon grad, and he saw his playing time diminish to where he did not play in 2014.

Dahl said leaving the sport he had played since a boy in Fallon was difficult.

“The transition into not having football in my life was hard,” Dahl said. “I had to move on, but there is always an aspect of the game I miss, especially when you do it so long.”