Dave Rimington redefined the center position at Nebraska, winning two Outland Trophies and a Lombardi Award before launching a seven-year NFL career.
All on one good knee.
Rimington tore an anterior cruciate ligament in the 1978 Shrine Bowl before enrolling at NU out of Omaha South. Surgery to repair torn ACLs wasn't refined until later, said Tom Osborne, his coach at NU, so Rimington played his entire career with a torn knee ligament.
He still managed to win All-America honors in two of his three seasons as a Husker starter, helping the team come within a few plays of two national titles. He won the Outland in 1981 and ’82 and the Lombardi in ’82, and he was a first-round draft choice of the Cincinnati Bengals in 1983.
Osborne said Rimington overcame the damaged knee with extraordinarily strong quadriceps muscles on the front thighs.
He also "had tremendous quickness," the coach said.
"Maybe the quickest guy off the ball of any centers we had. Maybe of any offensive linemen."
He was so quick, in fact, that opponents accused him of snapping the ball prematurely.
"But that wasn't the case," said his line coach, Milt Tenopir. "Well, he might have cheated a couple of times. But he could time that snap."
Rimington weighed close to 300 pounds, a rarity in that era. He wasn’t tall — listed at 6-foot-3 — but he mastered the technique of "crab blocking," firing off on all fours.
"A very mobile guy," Tenopir said, "with a low center of gravity."
Smart, too. Rimington was a two-time academic All-American.
After football, he became president of the Boomer Esiason Foundation, which raises funds to fight cystic fibrosis. Today, there's a trophy in his name that honors the nation's top center annually.
As a boy, Rimington didn't even feel like the top athlete in his family. Older brother Dennis "was the one guy I always tried to impress."
"Parents, you can't trust them; they'll always tell you that you played well," he said. "But my brother would always let me know how I played. When he didn't have anything to criticize, I knew I had played well.’"
Played for: Omaha South High, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Cincinnati Bengals and Philadelphia Eagles
Best athlete from Nebraska played with or against: Danny Noonan
Best moment as an athlete: His first start at Nebraska. "I can't even remember who it was against,'' Rimington said. "But for me, to go out there and play and contribute, it was a dream come true.''
Rimington was No. 28 in the inaugural Nebraska 100 list in 2005. See more about the 2005 list »