In honor of the NFL’s 50th Anniversary, the league is seeking out past Super Bowl players to celebrate the high schools from which those players came.
On November 12, former Miami Dolphins defensive back Mike Kozlowski (’74) presented a special gold football to Principal Bjorn Page in the packed media center of San Dieguito High School Academy. Kozlowski played on the AFC championship team in Super Bowls XVII and XIX.
Koz, as he is known among locals, described riding his his sister’s bike down Cardiff’s Liverpool Drive to buy some milk when he was 9-years-old. As he rode down one of Cardiff’s steepest streets, he hit a curb and flew head-on into the round brick dentist building at the corner of Liverpool and Newcastle Avenue.
“I woke up with four people in lab coats leaning over me asking if I was okay,” he said.
Kozlowski also shared inspiration on his lesson learned in life. “Be part of team. A team becomes like a family. It doesn’t matter if its sports or academics or even just your own friends, you become tighter, “ he said. “I’ve had 40 years of bonds and love [from San Dieguito].
In a private interview on November 15, Koz shared an experience he had at age eight, when he and his Cub Scout Pack 703 were in a flag ceremony at the Charger’s old Balboa Stadium. “I sat there mesmerized, watching the game, didn’t say a word.” He went home and told his mom someday he’d play in a Super Bowl.
However, at some point he buried his commitment. “I was a dickhead and just having fun,” he said. After high school, the only scholarship he received was to play volleyball at San Diego State. That only lasted for one semester.
Because of his Mormon faith, his mom thought it would be a good idea to send him to BYU. One day he saw an ad for walk-on tryouts for Cougars football. While he initially thought he didn’t have a chance at joining the team, those odds changed when he ran a 50-yard dash in 4.45 seconds. “The coaches were impressed,” he said. “I ran a second one in 4.5.”
After transferring to University of Colorado, although he was injured much of his last two seasons, the NFL scouts were still out looking. “It was projected I’d probably go in the fourth round (of the NFL draft).” The call didn’t come.
Later his mom called to say someone heard on the radio he had been drafted. “About 20 minutes later my bishop called to say someone else also heard it on the radio.” Kozlowski called the news director of the supposed radio station, receiving bad news. No, the station hadn’t reported that.
Dealing with the disappointment, yet accepting that it was okay that his football days were over, the phone rang. It was head coach Don Shula on the other end of the line, asking Kozlowski to come play for Miami Dolphins.
His admonition to the current San Dieguito student body? “If a knuckle head like me, can be successful, go to college, play in the NFL, imagine what you can do!”
Kozlowski now coaches for San Marcos’ Mission Hills Grizzlies.