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Les Shy, Running Back AUGUST 31, 1970


Make no mistake about it, former running back Les Shy enjoyed his
four years with the Dallas Cowboys during the North Dallas Forty
era of the late '60s. "You walked on water if you played with the
Cowboys," says Shy, who saw mostly spot duty after being taken in
the 12th round of the 1966 draft out of Long Beach State. "You
could do no wrong. You could eat out every night of the week
without paying a dime." But the good times didn't end for Shy
when his football career did. He now runs a booming construction
company in Illinois, and when he went to Texas Stadium in 1999
for the team's 40th-anniversary celebration, he was able to look
around and feel pretty good about himself. "A lot of the guys
have just let themselves go physically," he says. "A lot have
struggled. I feel good both physically and professionally because
compared to some others, things have gone well for me."

Not that things went well for Shy right away: His career ended
unexpectedly in 1972 when he tore his right Achilles tendon while
playing in an exhibition game for the Cincinnati Bengals. (Dallas
had cut him before the 1970 season.) Shy was momentarily shocked
by "real life," he says, in which "you have to pay to see a
doctor, and you don't always get 50 percent off everything." He
tried several sales jobs in real estate, insurance and stocks
before settling into a long but not personally gratifying run in
health-care sales. Then in 1994 he left that job and, with a
partner, started Integrated Construction Technology (ICT). "I
felt that I needed to control my destiny rather than have someone
in a corporate office decide whether I'm qualified or not," says
Shy, president and CEO. His company had three employees at the
outset; now it has 50. Most of Shy's clients are government
entities--ICT has built veterans' hospitals and Marine Reserve
vehicle maintenance facilities, among other projects--and his
company has profited from regulations that mandate opportunities
for minority-owned businesses. ICT now has two offices in the
Chicago area and another in Torrance, Calif., and this year
expects to triple the $8 million in gross sales it had in 2002.

Shy, 59, lives in Schaumburg, Ill., near Chicago, with his wife,
Sandra, and is trying to pass on the lessons of his life to his
son, Evan, a promising high school junior running back who not
only plays his dad's position but also wears Les's old number,
25. As much as Shy enjoys seeing his son play football ("I was
sticking my chest out 10 feet" Les says of seeing Evan take his
number), he encourages Evan to keep his NFL dreams in
perspective. "The trip to the pros can be long, arduous and very
disappointing," Shy says. "I don't want to send a message that I
made it but you can't, but I don't want him to pin all his hopes
on making it to the NFL." --Bill Syken

COLOR PHOTO: NEIL LEIFER (COVER) LOWERING THE BOOM Shy averaged 3.6 yards a carry.


His NFL career shortened by a torn Achilles, Shy launched what
has become a highly successful construction company.