Oct. 2, 2009
By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Insider
Baylor Bear Insider
Coming from a family of staunch Baptists, defensive tackle Greg Pipe probably didn't have much of a choice coming out of Fort Worth (Texas) Paschal High School.
"I took one other visit other than Baylor, which was to SMU," said Pipes, who was honored as a Baylor Legend during last Saturday's football game against Northwestern State. "And my parents didn't talk to me for a week until I signed with Baylor."
But then again, coach John Bridgers was pretty convincing himself.
"He told me that if I came, I'd make All-American," Pipes said. "And he made it so. I just figured that it was like buying a used car. You're buying what you take off the car lot. He was buying me an education, so it sounded good to me."
Pipes actually ended up with two degrees from Baylor, graduating from law school in 1973 after playing for five years with the Edmonton Eskimos in the Canadian Football League.
A two-time All-Southwest Conference pick and All-American as a senior in '67, Pipes was drafted in the 12th round by the Buffalo Bills of the NFL. But he went to the CFL because of a persistent coach.
"The story I like to tell is that I was drafted (by the Bills) the same year as O.J. Simpson, and they gave all the money to O.J.," Pipes said. "I went up for a visit (to Buffalo). Coach (Neill) Armstrong (of Edmonton) was there when I left and he was there when I got back from the visit. I had the feeling he wanted me to come play for him. I was impressed by that. And I'm glad I went up there. It was a lot of fun, the folks were friendly and treated us nice, and it was a good brand of football."
But when Pipes graduated from law school after his fifth year with the Eskimos, he decided it was time "to make a regular living."
"You just can't continue to play . . . unless you're George Blanda," Pipes said, referring to the former NFL kicker and quarterback who played until he was 48 years old. "I always tell people I never played in a leather helmet. I at least had a nylon faceguard."
Pipes spent one year at a law firm in Arlington, Texas, before starting a 35-year career with the District Attorney's office in Tarrant County. Other than a 10-day retirement in 2001, when he returned for a part-time position where he works 2 ½ days per week, he's been there since May 17, 1974.
"I was interested in taking a step down," said the 63-year-old Pipes, who's worked on 10 capital murder cases as an Assistant DA in the criminal division, "as a way of planning the exit. And so far, I haven't found the need to take the final step."
One of his more memorable cases, Pipes said, was the murder trial of Kenneth Granville. He served 21 years on death row after being convicted of killing seven people.
"I like the fact that there's always somebody to help," he said. "We had investigators assigned to our court team, and I had some very good ones. So it certainly made it a whole lot easier to stay in contact with the witnesses, who were sometimes as hard to find as the defendant."
One of Pipe's fondest memories as a player was having an inset picture on the 1967 cover of Dave Campbell's Texas Football Magazine, which featured some of the top defensive players in the Southwest Conference.
"Texas Football was a big deal," he said. "I remember when I was in high school, I'd save up my money and get a copy of Texas Football and read about all the schools in my district. Because they had kind of a scouting type report on all the teams and most of the players were listed.
"Dave Campbell was good to me. I was in there a couple of times. I think maybe he was trying to lead me down to Waco."