Where are they now? Bruce King

 

Herald File Photo
After graduating from Heritage Hills, Bruce King, right, rushed for more than 1,100 yards at Purdue University. He played for the Chiefs and Bills in a brief NFL career and now lives in Georgia with his wife and four children.

By JOHN PATISHNOCK
Herald Sports Writer

Without his experience of playing football for an area powerhouse program, Bruce King may have spent the immediate time after taking orders instead of handoffs.

“I was a lot more fortunate than kids without that opportunity,” said King, a 1981 Heritage Hills graduate who played for Purdue and in the NFL for three seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills.

King, who split time between fullback and linebacker at Heritage Hills, played on former coach Bob Clayton’s first undefeated season in 1980 (10-0). He then continued his career as a fullback with the Boilermakers, for whom he racked up more than 1,100 yards and tallied seven touchdowns; after earning MVP honors at fullback during the North-South All-Star game, the Purdue coaches wanted King to play on offense. At Purdue, he studied restaurant and hotel management, earning a business degree in 1985.

King, who works as a regional sales manager for an ink pen company, is convinced his days with the Patriots helped lead to an extended career in football, as he cited learning from “good coaches, good mentors” while at Heritage Hills. If not for the opportunity to play at Purdue on a scholarship, King noted he may have bypassed college and instead enter the military.

He kept busy in high school, and might have had things turn out differently if not for uncontrollable circumstances.

“In high school I played a lot of sports: baseball, basketball, ran track,” King said. “I probably would have preferred, if I had some height, to go the basketball route.”

King, 50, was drafted by the Chiefs, with whom he signed and played for 1 1⁄2 years before being released. He then signed with Buffalo and needed only one more season to become vested and eligible for benefits. That’s where things became tricky.

King was with the Miami Dolphins in 1988 but they released him before the season started. King’s agent then called all the other teams in the league but found no one interested. At the time, King was 25 and healthy and boasted the experience of having already played for two teams in the league. King described the situation as a “numbers game” since his minimum salary as a four-year player would have been more than the salary of a rookie or a younger player.

King said not latching onto a team despite having no major injuries was a little disheartening, but he explained the decision of teams to pass him over with a workmanlike approach.

“Football is a business and it’s about making money and controlling your cost,” King said.

King would have loved to have played a few more seasons but after hearing how teams felt and realizing football wasn’t going to play a factor anymore, he said he decided to look at the real world.

His personal life led him to elsewhere other than the football field after his career. He never had any aspiration to become a coach, saying he simply enjoyed playing the game more than coaching it. But he wasn’t able to immediately jump into the business world, either, having spent the previous decade focused on the field.

“I had the degree and virtually had no experience because I spent most of my time on football,” King said.

He interviewed with a few Disney companies and was offered an opportunity for an entry-level position, one in which he’d have to work nights and holidays, and he figured he could make better money elsewhere while working more agreeable hours. He started working in sales, dabbled in insurance and then moved over to promotional and advertising work. For the last 15 years, he’s focused on supplies and distributing.

He still keeps in contact with Clayton and current assistant coach Chris Sigler, among other coaches, though he said they typically don’t talk about the current state of the program, instead discussing work and their personal lives.

Earlier this year, King, moved from Georgia to West Moreland, Tenn., with his family. He is married to his wife, Christina Marie, with whom he has four children: Nicole, 24, Michael, 17, James, 8, and Preston, 6.

Contact John Patishnock at jpatishnock@dcherald.com.




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