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Sport change kicked Chris Bahr’s career into high gear

Editor’s note: This is part of an occasional series acquainting fans with the Raiders’ illustrious 60-year history as the team moves to Las Vegas for the 2020 season.

Chris Bahr looked well on his way to following in the footsteps of his Hall of Fame father when he took the league by storm and won the Rookie of the Year award in 1975.

Then he switched sports.

Bahr kicked for two Super Bowl-winning teams during his tenure with the Raiders, but that stellar debut season came as a young midfielder for the Philadelphia Atoms of the North American Soccer League after he was a three-time soccer All-American at Penn State.

His final season there was the first for his father, Walter Bahr, an American soccer legend who had the assist on the goal in the United States’ 1-0 upset over England in the 1950 World Cup and had a long run as a college coach at Temple and Penn State.

Chris and his brother Matt, also an NASL player, had other ideas. Chris made the move first, entering the 1976 draft and getting selected in the second round by the Cincinnati Bengals. He spent four seasons there before moving on to become a fixture with the Raiders.

Matt Bahr followed a similar path, making them two of only six men to play professional soccer and in the NFL.

The Raiders were happy with Chris Bahr’s decision.

He is third on the franchise’s all-time scoring list behind only Sebastian Janikowski and George Blanda, playing in both Oakland and Los Angeles between 1980 and 1988 for two Super Bowl-winning teams.

Bahr actually thought he’d join the Raiders sooner. He believed the Raiders would select him in the 1976 draft as Blanda’s storied career was coming to an end. Instead, he had to wait a few years before finally donning the silver and black.

Cincinnati waived him and Oakland was one of the first to call.

“I was meant to be a Raider,” he told the team’s website. “Considering that the Bengals had gone 4-12 my last two years with them and to end up being a two-time Super Bowl champion with the Raiders, it was just incredible. Living in the Bay Area and being able to play for a team with such a legacy; the mystique, the attitude; I’ve always considered myself a Raider, and it fit perfect for me.”

Bahr racked up enough points during his time with the Raiders to make his mark on the franchise record books. He made 162 of 249 field-goal attempts over his nine seasons and connected on 94.6 percent on PATs for 817 total points.

But it was in the postseason where he cemented his legacy. Bahr went 15-for-19 in 11 career playoff games with the Raiders, making all 33 of his postseason extra-point attempts. Those numbers included 3 of 4 field goals and a perfect 8-for-8 on extra points in two Super Bowl wins.

Bahr didn’t take much time off in the offseasons. He started law school while he was still on the Bengals and finished his degree at Southwestern in Los Angeles, practicing law when his career was over. Bahr then went on to become a financial consultant, focusing in part on managing assets for professional athletes.

He did play football in high school and college, only agreeing to do so when his high school coach agreed to allow him to focus on soccer during the week and just kick on Friday nights.

Bahr was an All-American in football as well as soccer in 1975, when he made three 55-yard field goals to earn a place in the Penn State record book that stood until 2019. He also served as the punter.

He is sixth on the Penn State all-time goals list in soccer and tied for eighth in assists.

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter.

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