It’s not even the fear his glory days will end once he’s no longer a gridiron great.
It’s the contact he craves more than anything else.
“There’s nothing like beating up the guy in front of you,” Bibla said.
He has chased that thrill from Crestwood High School to the University of Miami. He has tracked it indoors and outdoors, through four very different professional leagues, across two countries and over nearly a decade.
At age 31, and supported by his wife Anna and children Magnus, Lincoln and Mariusz, Bibla sees no reason to stop now.
“I still like to play,” he said.
Somehow, he keeps playing his way to the top of the mountain.
Bibla was a high school All-American as a two-way lineman at Crestwood, where he began his career under J.P. Meck and developed rapidly under Jim McGovern.
“We saw his size as a ninth-grade kid. We got him to come out for the freshman football team,” Meck said. “You can’t coach height. He had the height.”
It was the beginning of big things for the 6-foot-4, 306-pound offensive guard.
Bibla started every game his last three seasons at the University of Miami, and helped the Hurricanes win college football’s 2001 national championship – which remains his best memory on a football field.
“By far,” Bibla said during a charity auction this weekend at Mohegan Sun Casino. “The most memorable, most exciting. We went perfect. How many teams in college football go perfect? We had 11 first-rounders drafted that year, 13 players overall who went to the NFL.”
Bibla was one of them.
The Atlanta Falcons made him a fourth-round draft choice.
And although Bibla lasted just three seasons as a backup lineman and special teams player who started only two games, his NFL career was far from a bust. His first start came against Warren Sapp in 2003, and Bibla earned a game ball as team MVP for his performance that day.
“Every little kid wants to be a professional athlete,” Bibla said of his Atlanta days. “Just to be in that city and to play in the NFL … there are only a handful of guys from this area who went.”
He didn’t get to a Super Bowl with the Falcons, who lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2002 playoffs and 2004 NFC championship game while Bibla was there.
But Bibla found his first pro title – and most elaborate diamond-studded ring – as a starting lineman for Jon Bon Jovi’s Philadelphia Soul ArenaBowl championship team which captured the indoor football league in 2008.
The Arena League shut down after that season, but Bibla didn’t.
After an abbreviated stint with the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League, Bibla hooked on with the upstart United Football League. And won another championship in 2009 as a starting lineman for former New York Giants coach Jim Fassel’s Las Vegas Locomotives.
“He’s really determined,” Meck said.
He’s still going.
Bibla will enter his second season with the UFL’s Sacramento Mountain Lions this summer, which will mark his 10th season as a pro.
“I always told myself I was going to have a long career,” Bibla said.
One way or another, he keeps finding ways to make good on that promise.