A day after his quadruplets turned 2 years old, Steve Biggs threw on his football pads and led the Glacier Knights to their first victory since 2004, snapping a 33-game losing streak.
Biggs, a 45-year-old doctor who moonlights as a competitive bodybuilder, is the oldest player on the semi-pro Knights. At 6-feet-2, 265 pounds, he doesn’t have an ounce of fat on him.
“I’m an old man but I’m in better shape than most of the kids playing,” Biggs said.
Biggs, a defensive end, has multiple roles on the Knights. For one, he is a captain and occasional disciplinarian – he chastises the younger guys when they let their emotions get away from them. Also, he’s the team doctor. When a man goes down on the field, Biggs tears off his helmet and is there right away. Sometimes he attends to the other team’s injured players.
“He’ll go to the sidelines,” head coach Will Wheat said, “fix them and then he’s back out there playing.”
On April 26 in Columbia Falls, the Knights beat the Snake River Sabercats 42-6 in a Rocky Mountain Football League contest, a dramatic performance for a team that lost games last year by scores of 91-3 and 56-0. Biggs thinks this year’s Knights should finish above .500 if they play up to their potential. They are 2-2 right now and their two losses were both close games.
Wheat said Biggs was a big part of the victory over the Sabercats, terrorizing the opposing quarterback and chasing down running backs. He finished with five tackles and a sack.
“He had the game of his life last week,” Wheat said. “Boy did he play good.”
Despite Biggs’s unassuming demeanor, to describe him as teddy bear-like would be misleading. He can bench press 495 pounds “on a good day.” And though he’s soft-spoken and articulate, as comfortable talking about massage therapy as he is talking about football or bodybuilding, he’s built like steel. There’s nothing soft about him.
Try shaking his hand.
Biggs hadn’t played football since high school when he tried out for the Knights four years ago. Then, following a disappointing season last year, Biggs considered retiring from his brief semi-pro football career. But he talked with Wheat, who convinced him that this season would be a different story. This is Wheat’s first year as head coach.
Biggs said Wheat has lived up to his word.
Last year, barely more than a dozen players would show up for practice sometimes, hardly enough to start any sort of a winning tradition. This year, though, largely due to Wheat’s recruiting efforts, the Knights have nearly 50 players, with 40 or so consistently showing up at practice.
“You have to take your hat off to the guy,” Biggs said of Wheat.
The Knights are a diverse bunch. Many of them are blue-collar types of guys – construction workers and the like – though not all. Ages range from recently out of high school to Biggs. Some travel from as far away as Calgary and Missoula to play.
A few have never played football before, while others are ex-college and high school stars.
“It’s an unusual league,” Biggs said.
Along with running his chiropractic practice, Back to Health, Biggs owns the Montana Institute of Massage Therapy, which is based out of Kalispell and has branches in Great Falls and Billings. He has two medical degrees: one in chiropractic medicine and one in general medicine. He teaches classes at the institute, fitting it in between meeting with patients, spending time with his five kids and wife, and football.
“It’s a plateful,” he said.
Biggs has no intention of quitting football any time soon. He said he’s actually getting stronger, a rare feat for a man in his 40s.
“Age is not a point at all – you either do your job or you don’t,” Biggs said. “It doesn’t matter how old you are.”
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