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Former Husker wants Orange Bowl memorabilia returned

Football keepsakes stolen from garage

Getting over the fact he would never again play football for the Huskers took about 10 years for former linebacker Dan McCoy.

McCoy, a walk-on from Omaha Prep, was part of the team from 1981-83, before a side-lining knee injury changed his focus.

But not before a trip to the 1983 Orange Bowl where the Huskers clawed their way to a 21-20 win over the Louisiana State University Tigers.

In 1984, McCoy was on the team that played for the national championship against Miami and lost 31-30 after an unsuccessful try at a two-point conversion.

“My whole life was geared around football,” said McCoy, who moved with four of his five children to Gothenburg last fall. “It gave me a sense of purpose and was almost my identity.”

On March 1, McCoy realized someone had entered the family’s unlocked garage at 2411 Highland Drive and took a brown duffel bag.

The bag contained Orange Bowl memorabilia, including a ring and watch, a 1983 framed team picture and various pictures from the season.

Although McCoy didn’t play in either bowl game, he was part of the team nicknamed “The Scoring Explosion” because of its offense, considered by many to be one of the greatest in college football history.

McCoy, who is office manager for RTI Computer Sales & Service, said he discovered the theft when looking for the bag.

“I wanted to put up the plaque and team picture at work,” he said.

After searching everywhere, McCoy reported the theft to police.

Local officer Ryan Randolph, who is investigating the burglary, said law enforcement is asking the public’s help in solving the case.

The burglary will be featured in Crimestoppers, where people who share information about crimes remain anonymous, in the April 19 issue of The Times.

If the crime is solved from shared information, Crimestoppers offers a reward up to $1,000.

Although Randolph estimated the value of the items at about $2,000, he said the sentimental value to McCoy is priceless.

“He just wants it back and will drop charges if he gets it back,” the police officer said.

Randolph said he thinks someone stumbled across the bag while rummaging around McCoy’s garage.

At this time, he said he has no leads but has been checking websites and pawn shops.

“In this town, we have many thefts and burglaries,” Randolph said. “You’re inviting a problem if you are not securing your property.”

When McCoy said he thinks about what has been stolen, he gets mad.

“Why would someone do it because those things are of no value to anyone else and mean nothing to them,” he said.

Losing the memorabilia triggered the memory of the loss of a five-foot tall trophy McCoy earned as most-valuable high school player in the 1981 Shrine Bowl.

“It was the first thing lost that I really cared out,” he said, noting that the hardware was given to his high school football coach who misplaced or lost it. “That was the most memorable game I ever played.”

That year, Omaha Prep also won the Class A football playoffs.

“I loved the game and I really understood it,” he said.

McCoy was a Husker walk-on the following fall at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

After his freshman year, he earned a football scholarship.

During the spring game in 1983, he was trying to tackle Nebraska All-American and Heisman Trophy winner Mike Rozier and twisted his knee.

“But I played through it,” McCoy said.

After that, he said the knee “was never quite right.”

In the spring of 1984, he was released from the team.

On that day, McCoy met with former head coach Tom Osborne.

He then walked to his No. 40 locker, intending to take his gear, to remember his playing days as a Husker.

But he didn’t.

“I sat there and looked at my locker and realized it wasn’t my stuff, it belonged to the university,” McCoy said. “I shut my locker and it was the last time I was there.”

In 1985, McCoy graduated with a computer science degree and lived and worked in California for a few years until returning to Omaha in 1989.

He joined the family telemarketing business in Omaha, met and married former Gothenburg resident Julie Kniss and returned to California to live and work.

A few years after their divorce, McCoy decided to relocate to Gothenburg to get help with raising his children from his former in-laws Jack and Faye Kniss.

He also was offered a job at RTI.

While living in Simi Valley, CA, McCoy said he sometimes left the electric garage door open and had no problems with theft.

Even so, he thought it would be safer in Gothenburg.

“But now I lock my house and garage,” McCoy said.

The Husker memorabilia probably means more to his children, he said.

“They’re pretty proud that their dad played football for the Huskers,” he said.

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