They look alike, talk alike, share similar tastes in women--one
married the cousin of the other's wife--and Dave and Don Buckey
have always had that ESP thing going, too. The other Kenmore
(Ohio) High football players didn't believe it until that day in
1971 when they blindfolded Dave, the quarterback, and he hit his
identical twin, Don, the wide receiver, right on the numbers.
At the Buckeys' first peewee football practice, in Akron, the
coach told his players to pick a position. Don got in the
quarterbacks line, looked up, saw his brother near the front and
joined the receivers. "Who knows?" Dave says, 35 years later. "He
could have been just as good as me." That's to say, just as good
as North Carolina State's alltime leader in passing efficiency
and completion percentage. Dave's favorite target was Don, an
All-America, and the Buckeys-led Wolfpack of 1974 is the last
North Carolina State team to have cracked the Top 10.
After both were drafted in the 12th round by the New York Jets in
1976, they lived together at training camp. One morning after
practice Don returned to a half-empty room. Dave had been cut.
"It was," Don says, "one of the saddest days of my life." Dave
was briefly an assistant coach at N.C. State and in '88 joined
Raleigh-based L&M Transportation, for which he now oversees the
loading and distribution of produce. After Don's one season as a
Jets backup receiver, he and his wife, Elaine, moved to North
Carolina, where he became a management trainee at Roadway
Express, a national trucking company. But how long could the
Buckey boys stay apart? In July, after 23 years and a variety of
postings for Roadway, Don joined L&M to direct the company's new
effort to serve smaller companies needing assistance with goods
distribution. "It's a heck of a challenge for him," Dave says.
The twins and their wives--Dave is married to Elaine's cousin,
Anna--are often seen at home games of N.C. State, which has
perhaps its most exciting team since the Buckeys' days. It's apt
that the star quarterback, Philip Rivers, is a freshman. In 1972,
when first-year students became eligible to play varsity
football, Dave was a freshman, and in his first collegiate start,
he led the Wolfpack over West Virginia in the Peach Bowl.
"Football was good to us," Dave says, but he still remembers
looking at the sky the morning he had been cut by the Jets. "It
was beautiful, and I knew that life goes on."
Life has gone on, and with Don back at his side, Dave will tell
you blindfolded that the sky has never looked better.
COLOR PHOTO: BOB DONNAN
COLOR PHOTO: NEIL LEIFER
"Who knows?" says quarterback Dave of receiver Don. "He could
have been just as good as me."