Athlete. This 1960 graduate of Beatrice High School earned all-state honors in football and basketball his junior and senior years plus winning four all-class gold medals in track and setting a state record in the 180 low hurdles. A member of the 1959 Class A state basketball championship team, he received further honors, being selected to the all-tourney team. His final high school honor was being selected as Athlete of the Year by both the Omaha World-Herald and the Lincoln Journal. He was chosen offensive player of the game in the 1960 Shrine Bowl after scoring three touchdowns for a total of 171 yards. He played football at UNL from 1962 to 1964 and was co-captain his senior year. Bob played on Bob Devaney’s first three bowl teams. He went on to play professional football and was starting left cornerback for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1965 to 1970. In 2000, he was selected to Beatrice High School’s All Century Basketball Team.
Sunday May 12, 2002
Ex-player Bob Hohn fights ALS
By Michael Kelly , World-Herald Columnist
Bob Hohn remembers trying to tackle Jim Brown, the greatest running back of them all. His memory is helped by watching Jim Brown highlights on television – one as recently as two weeks ago.
Hohn, the 1960 Nebraska high school athlete of the year and a 1964 Husker football co-captain, played defensive back for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
On a first-and-10 play, he slammed into Brown two yards behind the line of scrimmage, hoping to throw him for a loss. When the play ended on the sideline, a dazed Hohn looked up and saw that he was two yards past one of the yard markers – and wondered how Brown could have dragged him four yards.
To his further surprise, he saw officials move the yard markers – it was a first down. Brown had gone more like 14 yards.
“It’s just embarrassing,” Hohn says all these years later, a hint of whimsy in his voice.
Through difficult days, Hohn tries to maintain a sense of humor. A guy who once was run over by a horse named Jim Brown is now fighting the disease that felled the “Iron Horse,” baseball great Lou Gehrig.
Hohn has ALS – amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – a motor neuron disorder known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
If it’s ironic that even great athletes aren’t immune from a disease that robs its victims of muscle control, Bob Hohn says it’s terrible no matter whom it strikes – athlete or not.
He says matter-of-factly, not in self-pity: “You just sit there and watch yourself go away.”
But he’s not a recluse. Every week at Brewsky’s in Lincoln, he meets with friends for “Mondays with Bob,” a takeoff on the book “Tuesdays with Morrie.”
The number attending has ranged from seven to 27. Hohn has many friends from his days as an athlete and a businessman.
Bobby Hohn of Beatrice High, where he won 11 varsity letters, had a storied athletic career. His low-hurdles record stood for 16 years. He was a three-time state gold medalist in track.
At Nebraska, his 53-yard interception return helped beat Kansas. He played five years in the National Football League.
He’s enjoyed a career as a mortgage banker. He and his wife, Sandy, have two grown children and three grandchildren.
The Hohns’ lives changed in May 1999, when he was diagnosed with ALS.
“The first symptoms were that my legs kind of tingled,” he said. “Then I started getting cramps, and grew weaker and weaker.”
Says Sandy: “The disease is horrible, much worse than anyone can imagine. I have seen my husband, a wonderful athlete and proud person, reduced to indignity and humiliation beyond description.”
On June 17, the ALS Association is sponsoring its first Bob Hohn Celebrity Golf Tournament as a fund-raiser for research. Hohn’s former Husker teammate Frank Solich and his wife, Pam, are co-chairmen.
Among those scheduled to attend the event at Quarry Oaks, near Mahoney State Park, are Tom Osborne, Eric Crouch, Scott Frost and Tommie Frazier. Openings are still available at (402) 991-8788.
Bob Hohn says he never questioned why he was blessed with athletic ability, and he’s never questioned why he was stricken with ALS. He says he thinks a cure will come some day.
His body weakened, he is using his strength of character and mind to tackle a deadly disease.