Milan Lazetich

Class of 2016


A three-year all-state high school tackle, Milan also played basketball and ran track before coming to Missoula for a short stint in 1942 during which he made an immediate impression by returning a kickoff for a 90-yard TD in the spring game. 

After serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II, where he received a medical discharge, and as a Deer Lodge County deputy sheriff, he enrolled at Michigan where he immediately was touted as a star player for a Wolverine team that reached as high as a No. 8 ranking in the Associated Press poll. 

At the end of his sophomore season in 1944 he was tabbed a first-team tackle by the AP in addition to first team honors from a number of news services. 

But before he could play as a junior, Lazetich - now tabbed “Sheriff” because of his previous deputy position - signed to play in Cleveland where he was converted to guard on offense and defensive tackle. 

Lazetich was the star of the 1944 Wolverines team that went 8–2 and finished the season ranked #8 in the AP Poll. After being introduced to Big Ten football in 1944, Lazetich told reporters that "no end or back ever threw a block like a pony that has been running wild for a couple of years, especially when he feels the first touch of a saddle." The Lazetich family had grown up on their father Peter’s ranch outside Anaconda where there were many occasions to tame wild horses.

In a pre-game story about the 1944, Michigan-Ohio State game, the Associated Press focused on Lazetich:

"The Michigan line is built around Milan Lazetich, a big tackle from Anaconda, Mont., who once was sheriff in his home community. He's the No. 1 All-America candidate from the Wolverine camp, so the reports say, but he's only one of a stalwart line which held Illinois speedsters without a score the previous week."

He played in 10 games in 1945 helping the Rams to the NFL championship. 

The team then moved to Los Angeles where Lazetich played five seasons, garnering All-Pro status in 1948-49. 

He played a key role while playing linebacker in the 1950 NFL Championship game by forcing, then recovering, the fumble of Hall of Famer quarterback Otto Graham but the Browns kicked a field goal for the victory. 

Lazetich retired in 1951 dying at age 47 in 1969 in Butte.