FARGO-The Roger Maris Celebrity Golf Tournament ended its 35th annual event on Monday. And if anyone would know about sports and longevity, it would be former NFL quarterback Steve DeBerg.
He walked off the 18th green on Monday at Rose Creek Golf Course to a group of autograph seekers, all of whom were too young to remember his 17 years in the league. It was all part of a weekend for DeBerg that was more about family and an appearance at the Maris than it was about 18 holes of golf.
He came at the invitation of his cousin Troy DeBerg of Fargo, with the both of them getting to know each other better as the years go on.
"I finally decided this year I'm just going to ask," Troy said. "The worst I can get is a 'no.' He came back right away and said, absolutely, would love to. So he's been up here the last few days, loved it and is looking forward to coming back next year."
Troy DeBerg is a 1995 graduate of Fargo North High School whose family moved to Fargo in 1989. He played basketball for the Spartans during a time when Steve DeBerg was having his best years in the NFL.
He started all 16 games in both 1990 and 1991 with two of the more equal back-to-back seasons you'll ever find in the NFL. He completed 258 of 444 passes in '90 and was 254 for 434 the following year.
It was one of the few times he wasn't looking over his shoulder.
He was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in 1977, but two years later the team drafted Joe Montana. DeBerg was traded to Denver and was the starter until the Broncos drafted John Elway. He was sent to Tampa Bay in 1984 where in his four years they drafted both Steve Young and Vinny Testaverde.
"Then I went to the Chiefs and they didn't draft the next Joe Namath," DeBerg said, "so I had my best years there."
That was about the time the two cousins became acquainted with each other when Troy went to a Kansas City game.
"It brought a whole different aspect to any football parties we would have," Troy said.
There was probably plenty of football talk in Steve's golfing party on Monday. One of the players in the scramble format was North Dakota State head coach Chris Klieman. Certainly, the subject of former Bison quarterback Carson Wentz and his ascension in the NFL came up.
"I was patting Chris on the back, they prepared him so well in college which is a hard thing to do," Steve Deberg said.
In Wentz, DeBerg said he sees a top-of-the-line talent who has all the tools to be a major player for a long time.
"Again, you never know and can predict injuries," he said. "It's a team sport, you have to have a supporting case which he has right now. He's in a great position. He has the talent and skills and has the start to a career to be a Hall of Fame quarterback but there's a lot that can happen between now and getting to that point."