by Michael Lombardi
May 03, 02010
QUOTE: “Man's feelings are always purest and most glowing in the hour of meeting and of farewell.” -- Jean Paul Richter
Farewell to Karm
I get asked almost every day for advice on how to get into the NFL or the scouting profession. My answer is always the same -- start young, work for free and hope you find good people who are willing to teach you about the game. My first job in football was working at UNLV, obviously for free. However, I got to share an office with Bob Karmelowicz, the newly hired defensive line coach. Karm had come in from UTEP and had always been an offensive line coach, an expert in the trap option game, but decided he needed the work and moved over to the defensive line. He figured, how hard could it be to coach defensive line since he knew all about teaching the offensive line. That logic was the first I learned from Karm and is something I try and teach my own two boys. If you want to coach offense, learn defense first, and this will help you understand how to attack.
Karm was kind enough let me carve out a corner of his office for a small desk, but he was even kinder to let me listen to him talk to potential recruits, to other coaches and, in his spare time, to teach me all the football I wished I’d known before coming to UNLV. He also was kind enough to assure my father that his 21-year-old son, who was driving his car across the county to an unfamiliar place, was going to be taken care of. And he was kind enough to let me borrow a spare bedroom when I needed one, buy me a meal and introduce me to people who are still friends today. He was a kind and gentle man who was willing to share in a profession that’s not always known for sharing.
Karm only stayed one year at UNLV before moving to the Big Ten. (One of my favorite memories of Karm was when he was talking about going to the University of Illinois. I was staying at his house, and when the phone rang, he made me put on stereo headphones so I wouldn’t hear his conversation. He was too nice to kick me out of the house but wanted to make sure I was never in position to hear something that was not my business.) From Illinois, Karm moved to Miami, winning a championship at the U and coaching some great players like Cortez Kennedy and Russell Maryland. Whenever Warren Sapp and I talk Miami football, Sapp is always quick to praise Karm for moving him to defensive line. Karm’s stellar work got him noticed by other pro coaches, and he entered the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals, starting an 18-year NFL career.
Karm made friends everywhere he coached because that’s what made him tick. He liked being a friend to people, and he loved football. His unique personality was always entertaining, and he had a very big heart — which to me was his most endearing quality. Karm understood what friendship meant, and when he called you a friend, he was a great friend.
For the last few years, Karm fought off an illness that prevented him from coaching full time. He died Saturday at age 60, but being involved in football was the best medicine. He will be missed.
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