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Tommy Casanova, Two-way Star SEPTEMBER 13, 1971

Aug. 14, 2000
Aug. 14, 2000

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Aug. 14, 2000

College Football Preview 2000

Tommy Casanova, Two-way Star SEPTEMBER 13, 1971

Not even Dennis Miller would dare say that playing pro
football is easy, but to Tommy Casanova, who spent six seasons
as a safety with the Cincinnati Bengals in the 1970s and was
thrice All-Pro, the NFL barely qualified as work. "You showed up
at 8:30 and were home by three, then you were free until the
next morning," Casanova says. "It was the life of Riley." Then
again, Casanova's perspective isn't that of the typical former
NFL player; since retiring from football he has pursued two
demanding careers, as an ophthalmic surgeon and as a state
senator.

This is an article from the Aug. 14, 2000 issue Original Layout

A three-time All-America at LSU, he melted the hearts of Bayou
Bengals fans by playing cornerback and running back while also
returning punts and kickoffs. Casanova did it all with a flair
worthy of his surname. SI anointed him the nation's best player
before his senior season in 1971, though the dread cover jinx may
have struck when Casanova pulled his right hamstring in the
opener and he missed half the season.

That didn't stop Cincinnati from making Casanova a second-round
draft pick. He immediately joined their starting lineup and
stayed there until his aching knees persuaded him to retire in
1977. A premed major at Louisiana State and the son of an
ophthalmologist, he'd been attending medical school part time at
the University of Cincinnati since his second year in the NFL.
After a residency in New Orleans and an ophthalmic plastic
surgery fellowship at the University of Utah, Casanova returned
home to Crowley, La., in '84, to join his father's practice and
exercise his surgical skills at American Legion Hospital. The
50-year-old Casanova and his wife of 12 years, Jeanne, still live
in Crowley, with their 11-year-old daughter and five-year-old
son.

Hoping to improve the future for Louisiana's children, Casanova
ran for and won a four-year term in the state senate as a
Republican in 1995. "Sometimes people tell me they won't run
because they hate politics," Casanova says. "Heck, that's why you
should do it. If you don't like what's going on, get in there and
change it."

Casanova, who stepped down in 1999 to focus on medicine and
family, found his tenure both frustrating and rewarding. He was
dismayed by his inability to gain passage of legislation he
considered important, like a bill to ban gambling, but buoyed by
his work on the senate's education committee. He doesn't rule
out a return to politics, but for now Casanova is content to
wear just one hat: a surgeon's cap.

--Pete McEntegart

COLOR PHOTO: RICHARD MEEK (COVER)COLOR PHOTO: RICK OLIVIER
"If you don't like what's going on," he says of running for
office, "get in there and change it."