Tuesday May 27, 2014 Former Gators QB Hewko remains close to game -- and Motley Crue singer Vince Neil
Updated: 4:22pm, May 27
Updated: 4:22pm, May 27
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Bob Hewko had not been on the sideline for a Florida-Florida State game for 31 years until November when Gators coach Will Muschamp invited the former UF quarterback to attend the annual rivalry.
The 54-year-old Hewko was happy to stay on the sideline that day, his playing days well in the rearview mirror. However, Hewko is always searching for ways to stay involved in the game.
He scored earlier this month when he joined longtime friend and business partner Vince Neil, lead singer for Motley Crue, at a press conference in Jacksonville to introduce Neil as a minority owner of the Arena Football League franchise.
Hewko (fourth from left, next to Neil in photo) is executive VP of RockStar Investment Group, a private equity and venture capital firm that is headed by Neil.
“I love the game. I love all kinds of football,” said Hewko, who played at Florida from 1978-82. “This kind of got our foot back in the door with the Arena Football League.”
Hewko is best remembered at Florida for leading the Gators to a come-from-behind 13-10 victory at FSU in 1982.
On a rain-soaked field at Doak Campbell Stadium, Hewko wasn’t expected to play. Wayne Peace was the starting quarterback but after the Gators fell behind 10-0 and sputtering on offense, Gators coach Charley Pell replaced Peace with Hewko in the second half.
Hewko scored on a 10-yard run to tie the game completed 6 of 10 passes for 66 yards. With the game tied and 3:47 left, Hewko was the holder on Jim Gainey’s game-winning 22-yard field goal.
“There will be a night that Bob Hewko will sit around and tell his grandkids about this game, and I just hope I live long enough to hear him tell that story,’’ said Pell, who died in 2001, afterward.
Hewko’s UF college career was filled with highs and lows. He was the first out-of-state quarterback ever recruited to Florida by Steve Spurrier, who was an assistant under Doug Dickey in 1978 when Hewko signed with the Gators.
When Dickey was replaced by Pell -- Spurrier also left -- Hewko’s love for football truly blossomed under offensive coordinator Mike Shanahan.
“Ever since I played for Shanahan, I love to study the sport,’’ said Hewko, who grew up in Pennsylvania and committed to Pittsburgh prior to Spurrier's recruiting visit.
He also underwent three knee surgeries that hampered his Gators career.
This isn’t Hewko’s first association with the AFL. He was a part owner of the Miami Hooters franchise in the 1990s.
He is also involved with the Lingerie Football League, replacing former NFL quarterback Sean Salisbury as the league’s TV color analyst in 2012.
Hewko and Neil have been friends for years and Hewko served as Neil’s personal manager on the Motley Crue/Aerosmith tour in 2006.
“And I’m still alive,’’ he chuckled.
It was then he realized how much Neil enjoys the game.
“When I did that tour with him, we had every satellite you could have on the tour bus,’’ Hewko said. “He loves football. When KISS got the team in LA last year, he wanted to get involved with the AFL.”
The Sharks are currently 3-7 following Saturday’s loss to the Tampa Bay Storm. The Sharks joined the AFL in 2010 and won the Arena Bowl in their second season.
Hewko said Neil plans to be a visible owner to help the Sharks build their fan base. For now, Neil is preparing for the July launch of Motley Crue’s farewell tour, dubbed “The Final Tour.”
They are scheduled to play in Jacksonville in October. Hewko has already extended an invitation to Muschamp, whom he first met at a Fort Lauderdale Gator Club gathering a couple of years ago.
Hewko said Florida’s current situation reminds him of his UF career. Pell was a defensive-minded coach whose offense didn’t blossom until Shanahan arrived.
He is optimistic that with the defense in good hands with Muschamp and coordinator D.J. Durkin, new offensive coordinator Kurt Roper can help push the offense in the right direction.
“Coach Muschamp was a kid when I played,” Hewko said. “He remembers that whole era. It’s pretty cool that he remembers us and brings us back and let’s us on the sideline. I’m really rooting for him to have a good year."