My friend Sam Boghosian, the Lord of the Rings
I’m always surprised at Sam Boghosian’s patience with me, because I had always been obsessed with his rings.
When we would meet for lunch or early morning coffee, I would eventually ask about the rings, and inquire if he would bring them over. I hope he didn’t think I was more interested in the rings than him.
Sam was that really cool sports figure that I loved to hang around with. People might not know as much about Sam as other sports figures here in the Palm Springs area. But few sports figures are more accomplished as Sam.
In college, Sam played for UCLA and helped the Bruins win their only national championship in football. When you consider how rich their sports history is, I think that makes the football title especially unique.
Sam had also interviewed for the head coaching job at Oklahoma at one point, but then he got a job as the offensive coordinator coach for the expansion Seattle Seahawks in 1976.
After his stint in Seattle, Sam went on to join his friend Tom Flores with the Raiders where he was the offensive line coach. There, Sam won two more rings.
So I think I got Sam to bring his rings a few times, sitting in Ruby’s or Mimi’s Cafe. If only the people next to us knew what he was carrying.
I got to know Sam when I worked at the Desert Sun. I can’t remember the story where we met. I’m pretty sure he was promoting a charity event, because he was always giving in that way.
But Sam was great about helping these events as a volunteer. As a journalist, you deal with a lot of PR professionals, and they stink at dealing with the media. They should have hired a guy like Sam.
I’ve made the transition from writer to handling media relations and marketing. My success with it is really based on how Sam did it. He was friendly, informative and knew how to sell it.
In fact, Sam did it better than people who made a career of it.
And Sam would introduce me to people, some who would become interesting stories. I met Bob Newton, who was on the offensive line during Sam’s time with the Seahawks.
Bob is a man who had battled addiction, overcome it and has been a successful counselor for several clinics in town, including the Betty Ford Clinic in Rancho Mirage.
And of course, I got to know Tom Flores, the former Raiders coach, through Sam.
It was Sam, who alerted me to the fact that Flores is not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, despite the fact he won two Super Bowls as a head coach, one as an assistant coach and another as a backup quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs.
He had pushed for Flores to be inducted, and now I try to do what I can to help Flores. I mean, the Raiders have never won a Super Bowl without Tom Flores. The Raiders are the only Southern California team to win a Super Bowl. And Flores is also the first minority coach in the NFL, let along the first to win a title.
Sadly, Sam won’t be around to see Flores inducted into the Hall of Fame.
On Sunday, Sam has passed away. He had Alzheimer’s and his health had been declining.
It took me a while to pick up that Sam had Alzheimer’s. He would always ask me many times how I was doing. But even before he had the disease, he would ask me multiple times how I was doing because he sincerely cared about me.
I’m not the only one who Sam really cared about. Flores would tell me how Sam would have so many friends around the area. He was a lovable guy.
Sam also seemed like a larger-than-life kind of guy. Although he was only 5-foot-9, he just seemed like he would be tough as nails if you pushed him.
I’m not really how Sam would react in a adverse situation, because I never saw Sam angry. Well, that’s if you don’t count the times when he expressed his frustrations over Flores not being in the Hall of Fame.
I had gone through some tough times. Each time I spoke with Sam, he would want to figure out a way to help me. During those times, I wasn’t sure how I could help myself, so I didn’t know what to ask for.
The last time I spoke with Sam was during the holidays. I wanted to wish him a Merry Christmas. He was repeating himself a few times, but it was always wanting to know how I was doing.
To me, that was the same old Sam.
I’m really going to miss him.
Below is what Sam’s daughter Jody Boghosian Schiltz posted on Facebook.
My daddy, the man that taught me how to love, live and respect has passed away. It’s all fresh and raw. I am grateful for the unconditional love and comfort that he gave me and taught me how to give in return.
My daddy was my hero. ❤️
Sam Boghosian was born in Fresno, CA on December 22, 1931 and passed away in his Indian Wells home on February 23, 2020. With his wife Judy, and daughter Jody by his side.
Sam Boghosian was a man of many talents.
He graduated from UCLA as an Academic All American and asset to the 1954 National Championship Football team. His success at UCLA set the groundwork for the man he would become. His passion for people and football lead him into coaching with jobs at UCLA, Oregon State University, the Houston Oilers, the Seattle Seahawks, and lastly the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders. Sam helped coach the Raiders to two Super Bowl Championships.
Dedicated to cultivating lasting and meaningful connections, Sam lived his life in commitment to excellence and to all those around him that he loved so dearly. It was in his blood to help others and leave an impact on every person he met on his journey. As a member of the Triple X Fraternity and the NFL Alumni Association, he utilized his platform to do just that. He raised money and awareness for countless charities, helped facilitate and organize fundraisers, and was always up for a round of golf in honor of a good cause.
Sam Boghosian was a man of integrity, passion, and dedication.
He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Judy, and their daughter, Jody Schiltz, son-in-law, Brian, and grandson Braden. He now joins his son, John James Boghosian, who preceded him in death. Sam was a beloved son and brother leaving behind his sister, Joyce, brothers, Marty and Joe, their families, and the families of his siblings that passed before him.
We all love Sam dearly.
On behalf of my father, and in lieu of flowers; please consider a donation to the Alzheimer’s Association as they continue to search for a cure for this debilitating disease. Or please send a monetary donation, in my name, Jody Schiltz, for my mother, Judy Boghosian, who also has Alzheimer’s Disease and needs to be placed in a memory care home. I will be moving Judy to a care facility near my home in Georgia so she can be near my family and receive the care she needs to live the rest of her life with as much dignity as is possible. Thank you for any help you can give, as my parents were not financially prepared for the expenses that are needed for this level of extensive care.
https://www.gofundme.com/f/judy-boghosian-memory-care-fund?utm_source=customer&utm_medium=copy_link&utm_campaign=p_cf+share-flow-7a — with Brian Schiltz.