Leading up to the 2000 season, the Rams gave an opportunity to undrafted wide receiver Dane Looker from The University of Washington. Looker’s NFL journey didn’t come easy, but he was a competitor and didn’t give up when things got tough. The Rams traded Looker to New England after training camp, where he was released at the end of the season. Once again, the Rams scooped him up and gave him another shot to earn a roster spot along some of his idols. Years later, his hard work has continued post-NFL career in a new and impactful way.
After a brief stint in NFL Europe in 2002, Looker returned to states and spent most of the season on the Rams’ practice squad. At the start of the 2003 season, the team traveled to New York to play the Giants for the season opener and all of the sudden Looker was on the field, in formation alongside the ‘Greatest Show on Turf’, a team he had just watched win a Super Bowl together a few years back.
“I remember looking up and Kurt Warner was the quarterback, Orlando Pace, Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt and Marshall Faulk, and I’m looking at these guys going, what am I doing here?” said Looker. “These guys are my idols and all the sudden I’m in the huddle with them and contributing. That was an amazing, eye-opening…I can’t believe I made it this far moment. That was a memory I’ll never forget.”
Looker played in all 16 games of the 2003 season as the Rams’ third receiver, and continued to contribute through 2007. He finished his career with 112 receptions for 1,224 yards in 91 games played.
After retiring, Looker settled back in his hometown of Puyallup, Washington, with his wife Amy and four kids: Isaac (11), Lawson (6), Tate (2), and daughter Shae (9). Looker has taken on coaching duties for his three oldest kids’ flag football teams. This past year, Isaac quarterbacked his team for the first time and the team finished third in their division. Shae and Lawson are on the same team at the kindergarten through third division level, and at that level the coaches assume the quarterbacking duties, so Coach Looker was able to quarterback for his kids. In fact, they won the championship this past year.
In addition to helping out with his kids teams, Looker coaches wide receivers at Pacific Lutheran University (PLU). Before that, he was coaching at Puyallup High School – his alma mater. He had to move on from that role to avoid a conflict of interest after he successfully ran and was elected to the Puyallup School District Board.
“It’s a district about the size of, it’s probably like Parkway (School District),” said Looker. “It’s three high schools, about 21,000 kids,” said Looker. “I wasn’t sure education was going in the right direction, so instead of sending my kids to private school or instead of complaining about it, I decided to do something about it.”
In today’s world, celebrity comes along with the territory of being a professional athlete. It’s up to the athlete to decide how they want to embrace that part of the job. During Looker’s time in St. Louis and continuing still, it is an attribute tht he hs welcomed and learned how to capitalize on.
“I always thought that I was able to use football as a vehicle to get involved in people’s lives,” said Looker. “When you walk in the door of a gym and the whole student body is sitting there, whether it be a junior high or a high school, they want to hear what you have to say just because you played in the NFL. I just think that gives you a great platform to help people and to communicate ways that those kids can be successful.”
Breaking into the education field has allowed Looker to pursue his passion for helping young people set a course for their life that is going to help them be successful down the road. It has also exposed him to complexities that go along with the industry.
“It’s been very eye opening, getting behind the scenes and seeing all the intricacies and all the things at work in education from the federal and state mandates,” said Looker. “It’s been very eye opening to see how many obstacles you have to overcome to get the students a great education.”
Outside of his coaching and school board responsibilities, Looker returned home to continue on the family business along with his two brothers. Together, they run Looker Asphalt Incorporated, an industry their father broke into back in 1937.
“When running your own business, you’re on your own,” said Looker. “As a football player, it’s all sitting there for you - you know what you need to do to be successful. It’s a little more pressure than playing football, that’s for sure.”
Looker and his family continue to show their support for the Rams and enjoy making the trip back to St. Louis to take part in various alumni activities and show support for former teammates. Although the Looker family lives in Washington, their football allegiances remain in St. Louis.
“Me and my family really treasure our experience in St. Louis,” said Looker. “The Rams gave me my only opportunity coming out of college. All 31 other teams said no to even a free agent contract with me, but the Rams were the only ones that said yes, and my family has been so blessed just because they said yes. St. Louis embraced me from the time I got there to the day I left and we love the town. It was hard to leave.”
Looker’s continuous hard work and unrelenting desire to make a positive impact on his community continue to make the Rams’ proud to call him one of our own.