Bill Lazetich - Griz_001_Black.jpg

Bill Lazetich

Class of 2016


Milan’s brother Bill also played with the Rams after playing with some of the early Grizzly football legends in Missoula. Bill was considered the MSU heir apparent on campus to the status of then iconic Aldo Forte who was drafted in 1939 by the Chicago Bears. As an aside, Forte went on to coach the Detroit Lions while they won NFL championships in 1952, 1953, and 1957.

Bill Lazetich was quite an athlete in his younger days. He was a member of Anaconda’s 1934 team that won the state basketball championship. He later played football at the University of Montana from 1936-38.

One of nine children, he became the first player in UM history to win the prestigious Grizzly Cup as a junior and was one of few UM athletes to claim nine letters. 

In 1936 Montana shut out Gonzaga 6-0 in the middle of a six-win season allowing just 33 points but it was consecutive late-season wins over San Francisco and North Dakota that brought the Grizzlies into the discussion for a Rose Bowl berth. 

But a mucky field in Moscow thwarted the Grizzlies and helped the Vandals to a 16-0 victory and while a couple of Bowl invitations were forthcoming finances prevented Montana’s participation. 

Drafted by Detroit, Lazetich played with Cleveland, where he scored three TDs, in 1939 and 1942. 

Lazetich served in the Pacific during World War II and as a Marine earned a Purple Heart for injuries sustained on Okinawa. 

But coaching was his forte and his 1967 Billings Senior team claimed a two-point verdict over Billings West to win the “Big 32” in overtime before better than 10,000 at Bozeman. Son Pete scored the clincher in overtime. 

In the midst of a 30-year career at Senior, Lazetich won a pair of basketball titles and the state football championship in 1947. He won 305 basketball games and established a 49-39-2 football record. Bill Lazetich died at age 93 in 2009, being among 12 of the oldest living members of the NFL at that time.