My friend Sam Boghosian, the Lord of the Rings

Sam Boghosian posing with one of the two Super Bowl rings he won with the Raiders as the offensive line coach.

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.

Sam Boghosian with his two Super Bowl rings while coaching the offensive line for the Raiders in both Oakland and Los Angeles.

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.

Sam Boghosian, myself and Bob Newton after one of our lunches.

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.

Same and me after coffee.

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. — with Brian Schiltz.  

Sam with all three of his championship rings, the two Super Bowl rings with the Raiders and the national championship ring with the UCLA Bruins.

Jay Dobyns on going from football to working undercover for the ATF

By Leighton Ginn

On a fall afternoon, Jay Dobyns talks about his college football career and his undercover work with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms as if there was no difference in both jobs.

The way Dobyns sees it, both job comes down to a willingness to put yourself in danger for the common good.

But outsiders looking in might have trouble seeing the commonality of the two job because of the degrees of danger Dobyns faced.

At the University of Arizona in the mid-80s, Dobyns was a possession receiver who routinely went over the middle to catch big third-down passes to keep drives alive, despite being laid out in front of bone-crushing linebackers.

All Sports listed Dobyns as the No. 1 offensive player in its list titled, “Top 10 badasses in Arizona Wildcats football in Pac 10/12 era.”

All Sports Tucson’s “Badass” list

Former Arizona coach Larry Smith said of Dobyns in a 1984 Arizona Daily Star article, “every Saturday a kid who barely weighs 170 pounds dripping wet goes over the middle for us. I know this Jay is a tough, reckless, S.O.B. After games, he looks like he’s been run over by a train. I personally think he enjoys taking the defenses’ best shot just so he can get up and laugh at them.”

Dobyns’ attitude served him well when he entered the next phase of his life after his playing career. And the danger he faced was amped up.  

For 27 years, Dobyns went after this country’s most violent criminals while working for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF). For two years, Dobyns infiltrated the Hells Angels’ motorcycle gang. His work became the material for his 2009 New York Times bestselling book, “No Angel.”

To purchase Dobyns’ book “No Angel” on Amazon

“I think my career as a receiver and my career as an undercover agent are identical. There’s really no difference,” Dobyns said. “You have the fear in place, and then what is your reaction to it. Are you courageous? Are you not courageous? Will you go over the middle, focus on the football and make the catch? Will you go face-to-face with a murderer or a rapist or someone you know who is capable of killing you? It’s the same but different.”


While going up the middle, Dobyns could suffer a concussion from a high hit, or injure his knees on low hits. And during Dobyns’ days, he would face the likes of All-American linebackers like Mike Singletary at Baylor and Ron Rivera of Cal.

That was where the jeopardy ends.

After Dobyns’ work was revealed after his two-years with the Hells Angels, he’s faced death threats to himself and some unspeakable threats to his wife and two kids. There were contracts out on his life from the Hells Angels and the Aryan Brotherhood to name a few.

At one point, Dobyns’ home was burned down while his family were there. Luckily, Dobyns’ family escaped with just inhalation injuries.

For Dobyns, he was always willing to do what was best for the common good.

“It’s more of a willingness. I think for me, that was what I was best at. I don’t know if I was ever that good of a receiver or if I ever was that good of an undercover operator. But I was willing. I was willing to try,” Dobyns said. “I had one prayer as an undercover operator. It was, ‘God, please put me in the path of the most vile, despicable, violent predator that you can find out there and let me see if there’s something I can do about that. Let me see if I can make an impact.’ It goes back to willingness. I don’t know if I was going to be successful, I didn’t even know if I would be good at it. But I was willing to try.”

“I had one prayer as an undercover operator. It was, ‘God, please put me in the path of the most vile, despicable, violent predator that you can find out there and let me see if there’s something I can do about that. Let me see if I can make an impact.’” — Jay Dobyns


Dobyns grew up in Tucson, Ariz., and became a star receiver at Sahuaro High School. Although Dobyns was a thin receiver that lacked breakaway speed, he had sure hands and was willing to go over the middle. In the modern game, he would essentially be a 170-pound tight end, but taking similarly devastating hits.

At first, Dobyns passed on his hometown Arizona to sign with Arkansas after a sales pitch from coach Lou Holtz.

“I fell in love with Lou Holtz for all the right reasons,” Dobyns said. “I got out there and realized that I wouldn’t be successful or thrive in a run-based offense. So I ended up coming back to Arizona, which had a more dynamic pass offense. You had a dynamic, open mentality on the West Coast than you did in the (Southwest) Conference at that time.”

The Wildcats team was full of talent, including future NFL stars, like the Denver Broncos’ Vance Johnson and Ricky Hundley, as well as Chuck Cecil.

Arizona was a team on probation from earlier transgression, but the Wildcats reached some of the program’s largest highs while Dobyns played. Among the milestones was a victory over Notre Dame in South Bend, the start of an undefeated streak against rival Arizona State that spanned nine years, beating John Elway’s Stanford team, No. 3 UCLA and earning a No. 3 national ranking, which was the best in Arizona’s history at the time. In Dobyns’ final two years, he was an All-Pac-10 honorable mention receiver.

“It was a blessing for me to come back home and play for coach Smith and play for my hometown fans,” Dobyns said.  


After graduating, Dobyns went to the NFL combines, where he worked out with Jerry Rice and Andre Reed. It only took 10 minutes for Dobyns to realize he wasn’t ready for that level.

Dobyns did play a season for the USFL’s Arizona Outlaws with Super Bowl MVP Doug Williams and former UCLA quarterback and coach Rick Neuheisel.

Dobyns also had a workout with the Chicago Bears, but coach Mike Ditka said he was 10 years too late. 

When Dobyns accepted his career was over, he needed to thing about what to do next.  

One thing that influenced Dobyns was the hit television series, “Miami Vice,” where he decided to try a life undercover.



 “I thought, ‘man, I might not be a good enough football player to play in the league, but I could be Sonny Crockett,’” Dobyns said about actor Don Johnson’s character in “Miami Vice.” “’I can wear silk suits and drive around South Beach in a Lamborghini. I can do that. I can be that guy.’”

Four days into the job, Dobyns was shot in the back, and the bullet went through his lungs and out through his chest.

Dobyns survived the near death experience more invigorated to work for ATF and would become an undercover cop.

Dobyns would work 27 years for the ATF, and his undercover work would draw comparisons to Joseph D. Pistone, the real life agent the movie “Donnie Brasco” is based on.

But his work was never as glamorous as what was portrayed on “Miami Vice.”

“The silk suits in reality are cutoff camos, a wife beater and flip flops,” Dobyns said. “The Lamborghini is a 1982 Malibu with the doors frozen closed for my government car. And South Beach was a trailer park. My drug kingpins were guys sitting at a bar that didn’t have two nickels to rub together to buy their next beer.

“So the glamour and sexiness that’s portrayed of the undercover profession by Hollywood and television is very much unlike the truth.”


To go undercover, Dobyns also did an overhaul of his personal appearance. While playing for Arizona, he had floppy blonde hair and looked like a surfer.

“I think my image on the team and in the community was the cold milk and Oreos guy,” Dobyns said. “I so wanted to be Nick Nolte in “North Dallas Forty.” I wanted to have the long, blonde hair and I was the possession, control receiver and I loved that. I loved the Fred Biletnikoff, Steve Largent world that sacrificed themselves and gave of themselves for the greater good.

“That look was too soft for the world I entered. It was too sissy. You are dealing with really hard, violent men who have their PhD’s in intimidation. So I had to stop being cute, and get dirty and nasty so I could keep up and be accepted.”

You are dealing with really hard, violent men who have their PhD’s in intimidation. So I had to stop being cute, and get dirty and nasty so I could keep up and be accepted.” — Jay Dobyns

While Dobyns’ work with the Hells Angels was the highest profile he worked on, there were other cases of note during Dobyns’ career.

On a fall afternoon, Dobyns recounts another case in his career for the television series “Deep Undercover.” Dobyns and his partner was busting a suspect who was purchasing enough C4 explosives to blow up three Las Vegas casinos. Dobyns points out the C4 was in the room as the other agents busted in to arrest the suspect.

The case was in the wake of the Timothy McVeigh bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995.

Today, Dobyns life has slowed down. He coaches high school football and follows his son, who is playing college football.

With Dobyns’ success in the ATF and his best-selling book, he’s frequently doing public speaking and media interviews. Recently, he did an in-depth interview with Pac-12 Network’s Mike Yam for his iTunes podcast “Give Me A Sense.”

Go to Give Me A Sense. Jay Dobyns’ interview is Episode 24

But Dobyns’ life still has a hint of danger. During his interview with Yam, Dobyns said he still lives in the house that burned down. Dobyns also pointed out with Yam that he doesn’t have the kind of witness protection that criminals like former mob underboss Sammy “The Bull” Gravano has.

 “There’s active contracts out there that are still floating around in the criminal sphere,” Dobyns said. “But who wants to fill it? I don’t hide, I don’t go into situations I shouldn’t be in. I don’t want a problem. I’ll avoid a problem. I’ll walk away from a problem, I’ll run away from a problem to avoid it.

“Don’t corner me, because if you corner me, we’re going to have a problem. You know what, if you hurt me, we’re all going to get hurt. You want to come get me, we’re all going to the hospital. That’s my mentality. But I don’t want that. To be honest, I think they’ve become bored with me.”

For more on Jay Dobyns

National Hispanic Heritage Month: Charlie Pasarell vs. Pancho Gonzales, the first set


Charlie Pasarell said when he played the 41-year-old Pancho Gonzales in 1969, the plan was to keep the legendary player on the court as long as he could to take advantage of the 16-year age difference at Wimbledon.

The plan worked, but the result wasn’t what Pasarell hoped for.

The 25-year-old Pasarell, a native of Puerto Rico, came up short in a match that spanned five hours and 12 minutes and was contested over two days. The Mexican-American Gonzales rallied for a 22-24, 1-6, 16-14, 6-3, 11-9 victory that ranked among the greatest matches in Wimbledon history.

The match stood as the longest in Wimbledon history until 2010, when John Isner defeated Nicolas Mahut, 6–4, 3–6, 6–7, 7–6, 70–68, which lasted 11 hours, five minutes.

Pasarell grew up idolizing Gonzales and then was tutored by him during his UCLA days.

The 1969 match at Wimbledon was the only time Pasarell said he faced Gonzales, who was already inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame a year earlier.

Pasarell was sharing his story and career as part of a Ginn & Topics special series for National Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15.