The Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival’s® iconic Partlow Insurance Sports Breakfast, presented by Grange Insurance, is celebrating its 50th Anniversary in 2015; and, Festival Organizers felt that the event had to project an aura of “something special” for this year. Any special attributes for the 50th Anniversary Sports Marshal were instantly filled by the elegant, excellent, and eminently likeable, Marcus Allen. But, then, the question was asked: how can we have a 50th Anniversary Sports Breakfast without a Washington Redskin hero? That question is now answered by Festival President, Jim Douglas, who happily announces that “Original Hog,” Ron Saul, has accepted the Festival’s invitation to appear at this special anniversary Sports Breakfast.
Ron Saul and his identical twin brother, Rich, were born February 5, 1948, in Butler, Pennsylvania. Ron and Rich both grew up playing football and baseball. Both brothers went on to play for Michigan State; and, after their 1969 season at MSU, were named All-Big Ten, Academic All-American, and Football All-American, with Ron being voted the Spartan’s Most Valuable Player. It was during the 1970 draft when the brothers parted ways. Ron was drafted by the Houston Oilers in the fifth round, and Rich was picked by the Los Angeles Rams in round eight. Ron became a first-year regular with Houston at offensive guard. Besides being the only twins to simultaneously play in the NFL, the Saul family had a third brother, Bill, who was a linebacker for the Baltimore Colts and Pittsburgh Steelers. Together, the Saul family played in the NFL for a total of 35 years.
Ron likes to characterize the NFL of the Seventies as being “Ironman Football:” you played healthy or hurt. “Shoot it up and play,” that’s what they used to say. “Back in the “iron-man” days, no one took themselves out of a game. There was no such thing as “turf-toe.” Injuries were shot up with Novocain, drained and taped, with players going back into the game. The only way out of a game was if a player was carried off the field.” Ron played for the Oilers from 1970 through 1975. After that season, Redskin Coach, George Allen, arranged a trade: Allen gave up Washington’s third, fifth, and sixth round draft picks; and, Ron played the next seven years with the Redskins as a guard. He was credited with opening many of the holes for the “Diesel” himself, John Riggins. He retired after the Redskins’ 1982 Super Bowl Season [the year before Marcus Allen’s heroics in the 1983 Super Bowl]. Ron has been quoted as saying he went out in a blaze of glory: “John Riggins was still tough, Joe Theismann was our quarterback, and Jeff Bostic and I were two of the original “Hogs.”
Ron was All-Pro in 1979, which he feels was his best football honor. However, from Ron’s perspective, his greatest honor has always been earning Academic All-American. Off the field Ron has made significant contributions in community service since his retirement. He has participated in the Washington Redskins’ Charitable Foundation events for over 15 years. In addition, he and his wife Robin are committed to giving back to the community within the Washington Metropolitan area by participating in other charitable foundations: John Hopkins Children’s Center, St. Jude Hospital, The Shelterhouse and more.
In honor of the 50th Anniversary of this very special Festival Event, Event Chair, Jim Gowdy, has announced plans to have Senator Russ Potts, and local auto dealer and civic activist, Dick Kern, in attendance at the event to be recognized as the founders of the event back in 1965. A special presentation will be made at the event entitled: “Memories of the First Fifty Years.” Local State Championship Coaches will be recognized; and, local outstanding high school athletes and Shenandoah University athletes will be honored.