Notable Football Deaths in 2017
by Randy Snow
Original to www.theworldoffootball.com, Friday, December 29, 2017
Once again, we take a look back at some of the players, coaches and others that we lost in 2017 from the NFL, CFL, college and more. May their contribution on the field, and to the game of football in general, never be forgotten.
January 13 – Johnny Gramling, a quarterback in college and in the CFL, dies at the age of 85. Gramling played college football at the University of South Carolina from 1951-1953. He was the first quarterback in school history to throw for 2,000 career passing yards. He then played in Canada for most of the 1954 Canadian Football League season for the Ottawa Rough Riders. He left the CFL team when he was called to active duty in the U. S. Air Force. He then played for the football team at Shaw Air Force Base. Gramling was inducted into the University of South Carolina Hall of Fame in 2000.
January 17 – Tirrel Burton, a long-time college football assistant coach, dies at the age of 86. Burton played tailback in college at Miami (Ohio) and was selected in the sixth round of the 1956 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. He did not play in Philly, however. Instead, he spent a year playing in the Canadian Football League for the Ottawa Rough Riders. He became an assistant coach at Miami (Ohio) in 1969 before moving on to the University of Michigan. He was an assistant coach at U of M for 22 seasons, from 1970-1991, coaching receivers and running backs. Burton was inducted into the University of Miami (Ohio) Hall of Fame in 1974.
January 19 – Craig Howard, a high school and college football head coach, dies at the age of 64. Howard was a head coach at Nease High School in Florida and won a state title in 2005 with future Heisman Trophy winning quarterback, Tim Tebow. Howard went on to be the head coach at Oregon Tech from 1991-1992 before becoming the head coach at Southern Oregon University in 2011, a school in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. He won the NAIA National Championship in 2014 and was named NAIA Coach of the Year.
January 23 – Ralph Guglielmi, a quarterback in college and in the NFL, dies as the result of a stroke at the age of 83. Guglielmi played college football at Notre Dame, He was selected in the first round of the 1955 NFL Draft (third overall selection) by the Washington Redskins. Guglielmi played in Washington in 1955, 1958 and 1960, then played for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1961 and the New York Giants in 1962. In 1963, he played for the Giants and the Philadelphia Eagles. Guglielmi was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2001.
January 30 – Don Coleman, an outstanding college football lineman, dies at the age of 88. Coleman played college football at Michigan State and was the MVP of the school’s 9-0 season in 1951. He was the first black All-American player in 1951 as well as the first player at MSU to have his jersey retired. Coleman was selected in the eighth round of the 1952 NFL Draft by the Chicago Cardinals. He was then traded to the Green Bay Packers, who wanted him to play defensive back. Instead of playing pro football, he joined the Army and served as an officer in Korea. Coleman returned to MSU and spent time as an assistant football coach and eventually became the Dean of Students. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1975, the MSU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1992 and the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame in 1997.
February 8 – Ray Newman, who was a player scout in the CFL and NFL, dies at the age of 92. Newman was an NFL scout for the New Orleans Saints from 1967-1971 and for the San Diego Chargers from 1971-1978. He then joined the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League and was responsible for signing quarterback Warren Moon. Moon then led the Eskimos to five consecutive Grey Cup championships from 1978-1982. Prior to becoming a player scout, Newman was the head coach at Bakersfield College from 1959-1966. Newman is a member of Ourlads’ Scout Hall of Fame.
February 12 – Quentin Moses, a former NFL player, dies in a house fire in Monroe, Georgia at the age of 33. Moses played college football at the University of Georgia and was selected in the third round of the 2007 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders. However, he signed with the Miami Dolphins as a free agent. He played for the Dolphins from 2007-2010. He started out playing on the defensive line but was eventually moved to the linebacker position.
February 13 – Darrel K. Smith, dies of cancer at the age of 55. Smith played college football at Central State University in Ohio. He went on to play eight seasons in the Canadian Football League for the Toronto Argonauts (1986-1992) and one more with the Edmonton Eskimos in 1993. He was a wide receiver who helped lead the Argos to the 1991 Grey Cup championship. To this day, he still holds three Toronto team records; consecutive games with a reception (96), touchdowns in a single season (20) and average yards per catch (17.5).
February 16 – John Jackson, who was a college football assistant coach for many years, dies at the age of 81. Jackson was the running backs coach at USC from 1976-1981. During that time he coached, not one, but two, Heisman Trophy winners; Charles White (1979) and Marcus Allen (1981). Jackson was also a part of USC’s 1978 National Championship team. He went on to be the running backs coach at UNLV from 1999-2004. He also spent time coaching at Hofstra, Dartmouth and Illinois.
February 17 – Leonard Myers, a former NFL player, dies of cancer at the age of 38. Myers played college football at the University of Miami and was selected in the sixth round of the 2001 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots. He played for the Patriots from 2001-2002 and won a Super Bowl with the team in his rooky season. He also played briefly for the New York Jets and the Detroit Lions in 2003. In 2015, Myers was the wide receivers coach at Division II New Mexico Highlands University. Last month, he was the cornerbacks coach of the Nationals team in the NFLPA Collegiate All-Star game.
February 19 – Darryl Hammond, who played 16 seasons in the Arena Football League, dies of Lou Gehrig’s Disease at the age of 50. Hammond played college football at Virginia and began his AFL career with the Albany Firebirds from 1991-1994 as a wide receiver/defensive back. He also played for the St. Louis Stampede (1995-1996), Nashville Kats (1997-2001), Georgia Force (2002-2003), Austin Wranglers (2004) and the Nashville Kats again (2005-2006). Hammond was named the AFL’s All-Ironman Team in 2000 and 2001, helping to lead the Kats to an ArenaBowl appearance in both of those seasons. After his playing career was over, Hammond became the assistant general manager of the Kats and also was the team’s radio color analyst. He was a stunt double in the movie The Longest Yard in 2004 and had a role in the movie Invincible in 2006. In 2009, he had a role as a volleyball coach on the TV show Hanna Montana. He was inducted into the Arena Football League Hall of Fame in 2013.
February 23 – Bernie Custis, a pioneering black quarterback who played in Canada, dies at the age of 88. Custis played college football at Syracuse and was selected in the 11th round of the 1951 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns. There were no black quarterbacks in the NFL at the time and he would have had to change positions if he wanted to make the team. So he decided to go to Canada where he could continue to play QB. He signed with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 1951 and played for the team through 1954, winning a Grey Cup in 1953. Custis also played for the Ottawa Rough Riders in 1955 and 1956. When his playing career was over, Custis spent 31 years coaching at various levels of college football in Canada. He was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1998 as a Builder. Custis is also a member of the Syracuse University Athletic Hall of Fame and the McMaster University Hall of Fame in Canada.
March 6 – Mickey Martin, a former player and scout in the NFL, dies after battling ALS at the age of 61. Martin played college football at Tennessee and for the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders from 1977-1987. The right guard won two Super Bowls with the Raiders (XV and XVIII) and after his playing career was over, he spent another 29 years as a player scout for the team.
March 6 – George Karras, a college football coach and player scout in the NFL, dies at the age of 83. Karras was a college football coach for 20 years and the head coach at Wichita State from 1965-1966. He then spent time as a player scout for the Denver Broncos before he became the Oakland Raiders as the director of player personnel from 1987-1997.
March 8 - Ezzrett “Sugarfoot” Anderson, one of the first African-American players in the Canadian Football League, dies at the age of 97. Anderson played college football at Kentucky State and later became a wide receiver for the Calgary Stampeders from 1949-1955. He wore the number 00 and was a West All-Star in 1949. After his playing career was over, the Nashville, Arkansas native decided to stay in Canada. He remained active with the Stampeders as a ticket account representative and as a team ambassador into the 1990s. He also had a brief career in Hollywood, appearing in “The Story of Seabiscuit” starring Shirley Temple in 1949 and had minor parts in several other movies. Anderson was inducted into the Stampeders’ Wall of Fame in 1990 and the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame in 2010.
March 24 – Clay Matthews, Sr., the father and grandfather of a number of NFL players, dies at the age of 88. Matthews was a two-way player for the San Francisco 49ers in 1950 and 1953-1955. He played on the offensive and defensive lines. He is the father of Clay Mathews, Jr., who played for the Cleveland Browns and Atlanta Falcons from 1978-1996 and Bruce Matthews, who played for the Houston Oilers and Tennessee Titans from 1993-2001. Bruce was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007. Clay Sr. is also the grandfather of five other NFL players; Casey Matthews who currently plays for the Minnesota Vikings, Clay Matthews III who currently plays for the Green Bay Packers, Mike Matthews, who currently plays for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Jake Matthews, who currently plays for the Atlanta Falcons and Kevin Matthews, who played for the Tennessee Titans in 2010 and 2012.
March 29 – Ken Sparks, a Division II college football coach, dies at the age 73. Sparks was the head coach of the Carson-Newman Eagles for 37 years, from 1980-2016. He played wide receiver at the school and graduated there in 1968. His overall head coaching record was 338-99-2, the fifth most wins in college football history. When Sparks took over as head coach, Carson Newman competed at the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) level. Sparks led the team to five NAIA titles. After moving to the Division II level, he led the team to 21 South Atlantic Conference (SAC) championships.
April 10 – Spike Dykes, who was a college football coach, dies at the age of 79. Dykes is best known as the head coach at Texas Tech from 1986-1999. At the time he retired, he was the winningest head coach in school history with a record of 82-67-1. He started out has a high school coach in Texas and then spent time as an assistant coach at Mississippi State, Texas and New Mexico before becoming an assistant coach at Texas Tech in 1984. Dykes was named Southwest Conference Coach of the Year in 1989, 1993 and 1994 and Big 12 Coach of the Year in 1996.
April 12 – Wayne Hardin, a Hall of Fame college football coach, dies of a stroke at the age of 91. Hardin was the head coach at Navy from 1959-1963. During his time there, he produced two Heisman Trophy winners, HB Joe Bellino in 1960 and QB Roger Staubach in 1963. He then went on to be the head coach at Temple from 1970-1982. His overall record as a head coach was 118-74-5. Hardin was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2013.
April 13 – Dan Rooney, the owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, dies at the age of 84. He began working for the team his family owns in 1955. In 1975, he became the team president and was the controlling owner of the team from 1988-2003. Since then, he had been the team’s chairman. He was instrumental in passage of The Rooney Rule, which requires NFL teams to interview at least one minority candidate for vacant head coaching positions. He also spent three years as the U.S. Ambassador to Ireland from 2009-2012. Rooney was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000.
April 18 – Walter William “Bill” Anderson, who played in college, the NFL and was a longtime college football broadcaster, dies at the age of 80. Anderson played wingback and was a team captain at Tennessee. He was selected in the third round of the 1958 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins. He played for Washington from 1958-1963. He then signed with the Green Bay Packers and played there in 1965 and 1966. He was on the Super Bowl I championship team. Anderson was hired as an assistant coach at Tennessee in 1964. In 1968, he and John Ward became the team’s radio broadcasting team. The two worked together for 31 years until they both retired from broadcasting in 1998. Anderson is a member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame and the Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame.
April 19 – Aaron Hernandez, a former NFL player who was serving a life sentence for murder, is found hanged in his prison cell. He was 27. Hernandez played college football at Florida and was selected in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots. He played tight end for New England from 2010-2012. He was serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd, a semiprofessional football player who was dating his fiancé’s sister. Less than a week before, on April 14, he was acquitted in a trial for a double murder that took place in 2012.
May 9 – Katherine Berman, the wife of long-time ESPN broadcaster Chris Berman, dies as the result of a two-car accident in Connecticut. The Berman’s had been married for 33 years.
May 12 – Yale Lary, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, dies at the age of 86. Lary played college football at Texas A&M and was selected in the third round of the 1952 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions. He played for Detroit from 1952-1953, 1956-1964. He played safety, was a punter and also returned kick. Lary helped lead the Lions to three NFL championships in 1952, 1953 and 1957. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979.
May 13 – Len Rohde, an offensive tackle in the NFL for 15 years, dies at the age of 79. Rohde played college football at Utah State and was selected in the fifth round of the 1960 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers. He retired following the 1974 season and had played in 208 consecutive games. After football, he stayed in the Bay Area and went on to own six Burger King franchises and five Applebee’s restaurants.
May 19 – Wayne Walker, a former NFL player and broadcaster, dies at the age of 80. Walker played college football at Idaho and was selected in the fourth round of the 1958 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions. He played for the Lions for 15 seasons as a kicker and a linebacker. He led the Lions in scoring in 1962, 1964 and 1965. He retired as a player following the 1972 season and went into broadcasting. Walker spent 11 years as a color commentator for NFL games on CBS. He was also the sports director at television station KPIX in San Francisco as well as a color analyst on radio broadcasts for the San Francisco 49ers.
May 23 – Cortez Kennedy, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, dies at the age of 48. The cause of death was not immediately known. Kennedy played college football at the University of Miami and was selected in the first round (third overall selection) in the 1990 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks. He played defensive tackle for the Seahawks for 11 seasons, though 2000. He was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in in 1992, even though Seattle posted a dismal 2-14 record that year. Kennedy was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012.
June 8 - James Hardy, who played in college and in the NFL, dies at the age of 31. His body was found in the Maumee River in Fort Wayne, IN. The cause of death was not immediately known. Hardy played college football at Indiana and was selected in the second round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills. He played wide receiver for the team in 2008 and 2009.
June 14 – Don Matthews, a long-time head coach in the Canadian Football League, dies at the age of 77. Matthews started coaching in the CFL in 1977 as an assistant coach for the Edmonton Eskimos. He went on to be the head coach of the British Columbia Lions from 1983-1987, winning a Grey Cup in 1985. Matthews was the head coach of the Toronto Argonauts in 1990 then moved on to the Saskatchewan Roughrider from 1991-1993. He was the head coach of the Baltimore Stallion from 1994-1995 and led the Stallions to two straight Grey Cup appearances, winning the CFL title in Baltimore in 1995. He returned to Toronto from 1996-1998, the Eskimos in 1999 and 2000 and then was the head coach of the Montreal Alouettes from 2002-2006. His final head coaching stop was back in Toronto in 2008. When he retired from coaching, Matthews was the winningest head coach in CFL history with a record of 231-132-1. He won a total of five Grey Cup titles (1985, 1995, 1996, 1997 and 2002) and was named CFL Coach of the Year five times. Matthews was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2011.
June 22 – Frank Kush, a former head coach in college, the CFL, NFL and the USFL, dies at the age of 88. Kush coached at Arizona State University for 22 seasons (1958-1979). Kush was named the Walter Camp Coach of the Year in 1975 after leading the Sun Devils to a 12-0 record. He won his fourth Fiesta Bowl that year also. Kush then spent one season as the head coach of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League in 1981. He was also the head coach of the NFL Baltimore Colts from 1982-1983 and the Indianapolis Colt in 1984. He finished his coaching career with the Arizona Outlaws of the United States Football League in 1985. Kush was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1995.
June 27 – 1st Lt. Stephen “Chase” Prasnicki, a former quarterback for Army, dies in Afghanistan at the age of 24. Prasnicki was killed by an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, which was based in Bamberg, Germany. Prasnicki graduated from West Point as a member of the Class of 2010. Another Army soldier, Sgt. James L. Skalberg Jr., was also killed in the same incident.
June 30 – Max Runager, a punter in college and in the NFL, dies at the age of 61. Runager played college football at the University of South Carolina and was team captain in 1978. He was selected in the eighth round of the 1979 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. He played in Philly from 1979-1983, The San Francisco 49ers from 1984-1988, the Cleveland Browns in 1988 and he ended his career in Philly again in 1989. He played in two super Bowls, one in 1980 with the with the Eagles and another in 1984 with the 49ers, Runager was inducted into the state of South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame in 2007. He was also inducted into the University of South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame and selected as a Southeast Conference Football Legend, both in 2013.
July 15 – Vito “Babe” Parilli, who played in the NFL, AFL, CFL and also was a coach in the WFL and the Arena Football League, dies at the age of 87. Parilli played college football at Kentucky and was selected in the first round of the 1952 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers. He played quarterback for the Packers in 1952 and 1953. He signed with the Cleveland Browns 1956, where he played one season, then returned to the Packers in 1957 and 1958. Parilli signed with the Oakland Raiders of the NFL rival American Football League in 1960. He played on Oakland for just one season and then played for the AFL Boston Patriots from 1961-1967. Parilli also played three seasons in the Canadian Football League with the Ottawa Rough Riders in 1954, 1955 and 1959. He finished his playing career with the AFL New York Jets in 1968 and 1969 and was the backup quarterback to Joe Namath in the Jets’ Super Bowl III victory. Parilli then turned to coaching, beginning in 1974 as the head coach of the New York Stars/Charlotte Hornets in the World Football League. Parilli then spent nine seasons coaching in the Arena Football League beginning in 1988 as the head coach of the New England Steamrollers. He went on to coach the Denver Dynamite (1988-1991) Charlotte Rage (1992), Las Vegas Sting (1994-1995), Anaheim Piranhas (1996) and the Florida Bobcats (1997). He was named the Coach of the Year with the Dynamite in 1989. Parilli was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1982 and the Patriots Hall of Fame in 1993.
July 26 – Lyle Smith, a legendary coach at Boise State, dies at the age of 101. Smith is considered the Father of Bronco Football. He coached during the time when the school was a junior college (JUCO). He was the head coach from 1947-1950, took a year off to serve in the military and returned to coach the team again from 1952-1967. His overall coaching record was 156-25-6. During his coaching career, he had five undefeated seasons, a 37-game winning streak and 51 shutouts. He won a JUCO national championship in 1958. After his coaching career was over, he became the school’s athletic director. The school became a university in 1974 and won another national championship in 1980 at the Division I-AA level. Smith retired as the school’s athletic director in 1981. Over the years, he remained a fixture at games and practices. The iconic blue playing field at the stadium has been known as Lyle Smith Field ever since it was installed in 1986. The school erected a statue of Smith in front of the Allen Noble Hall of Fame in 2016.
August 1 – Ara Parseghian, who led the Fighting Irish to two national championships, dies at the age of 94. Parseghian played college football at Miami University, in Ohio, where he was a halfback. He also played professionally in the All American Football Conference for the Cleveland Browns in 1948 and 1949. He became the head coach at Miami University in 1951 and remained there through 1955. He went on to be the head coach at Northwestern from 1956-1963. His greatest success came as the head coach at Notre Dame from 1964-1974 and won national championships in 1966 and 1973. After retiring from coaching, Parseghian went into broadcasting, working college games for ABC and CBS. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1980.
August 1 – John Reaves, who played quarterback in the NFL and the USFL, dies at the age of 67. Reaves struggled with drug and alcohol addiction for many years and the cause of death is under investigation. He played college football at the University of Florida. When he left college, he was the NCAA’s all-time leading passer. He was selected in the first round of the 1972 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. He played for the Eagles from 1972-1974, the Cincinnati Bengals from 1975-1978 and the Houston Oilers in 1981. Reaves then spent three seasons (1983-1985) playing for the Tampa Bay Bandits of the USFL and was the second leading passer in USFL history. His final appearance as a player came two years later. He played two games as a replacement player during the 1987 NFL strike for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Reaves then went on to be a college football coach, first at Florida from 1990-1994 and then at South Carolina from 1995-1997.
August 9 – Jerry “Soupy” Campbell, who played linebacker in the Canadian Football League for 11 seasons, dies at the age of 73. Campbell played college football at the University of Idaho. He signed with the Calgary Stampeders in 1966 and played for the team until 1968. Midway through the 68 season he was traded to the Ottawa Rough Riders, where he played through 1975. He was the captain of a defensive unit known as Capital Punishment. Campbell finished his playing career in 1976 back with the Stampeders. He won three Grey Cup championships with Ottawa in 1968, 1969 and 1973. Campbell was inducted into the Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame in 1995 and the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1996.
August 14 – Frank Broyles, a legendary college football coach, dies from complications of Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 92. Broyles played quarterback in college at Georgia Tech. He led the team to four straight bowl appearances and was named the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year in 1944. After college, Broyles went right into coaching. He began as an assistant coach at Baylor, then Florida, then Georgia Tech. He got his first head coaching job at Missouri in 1956 and then moved on to Arkansas in 1957 where he remained for the next 19 seasons. Broyles led the Razerbacks to an 11-0 season in 1964 and the team was named national champions. He retired from coaching in 1974 with an overall coaching record of 149-62-6. He remained at the school as the athletic director until 2007. From 1977-1985, Broyles also was a college football color commentator on ABC and was teamed up with Keith Jackson in the broadcast booth. Broyles was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1983.
September 19 – Bernie Casey, an actor and former tight end and wide receiver in the NFL, dies at the age of 78. Casey played college football at Bowling Green and was selected in the first round (9th overall) of the 1961 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers. He was also selected in the ninth round of the 1961 American Football League Draft by the New York Titans. Casey played for the 49ers from 1961-1966 and the Los Angeles Rams in 1967 and 1968. During his eight seasons in the NFL, he scored 40 touchdowns and was named to the Pro Bowl in 1967. After football, he became an actor in Hollywood and appeared in such movies as “The Magnificent Seven,” “Never Say Never Again,” “Brian’s Song,” “Revenge of the Nerds” and “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka.”
September 27 – Robert “Red” Miller, a former head coach in the NFL, dies at the age of 89. Miller was a long-time offensive line coach, spending time with several team including the Boston/New England Patriots (1960-1961), Buffalo Bills (1962), Denver Broncos (1963-1965), St. Louis Cardinals(1966-1970) and the Patriots again from 1973-1976. He then became the head coach of the Denver Broncos from 1977-1980 and led the team to its first Super Bowl appearance. They lost to the Dallas Cowboys 27-10 in Super Bowl XII. The game was played in January 1978 in New Orleans. Miller is to be inducted into the Broncos’ Ring of Fame on November 17.
September 30 – Joe Tiller, a former college football head coach, dies at the age of 74. Tiller was an assistant coach at Purdue from 1983-1986. He moved on to be an assistant coach at Wyoming and at Washington State before eventually becoming the head coach at Wyoming from 1991-1996. Tiller returned to Purdue as the head coach from 1997-2008 and led the Boilermakers to 10 bowl appearances in 12 seasons. He is the winningest football coach at Purdue posting an 87-62 record. Tiller also produced three NFL quarterbacks while at the school; Drew Brees, Kyle Orton and Curtis Painter.
October 8 – Y.A. Tittle, a former quarterback in the AAFC and the NFL, dies at the age of 90. Yelberton Abraham Tittle played college football at LSU and was selected in the first round of the 1948 NFL Draft (sixth pick overall) by the Detroit Lions. However, he signed a contract with the Cleveland Browns of the rival All American Football Conference. The Browns, however, traded him to the Baltimore Colts before the start of the ‘48 season. He played for the AAFC Colts in 1948 and 1949. The Colts then became an NFL team in 1950 but folded after just one season. Tittle was then acquired by the San Francisco 49ers where he played from 1951-1960.While with the 49ers, Tittle was part of “The Million Dollar Backfield” which also included halfback Hugh McElhenney, fullback Joe “The Jet” Perry and fullback John Henry Johnson. All four have since been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Tittle finished his NFL career with the New York Giants from 1961-1964. He led the Giants to three consecutive title games from 1961-1963, but lost all three times. He made a brief appearance in the 1999 movie, “Any Given Sunday” as a coach. Tittle was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971.
October 9 – Ben Hawkins, a wide receiver in the NFL for nine seasons, dies at the age of 73. Hawkins played college football at Arizona State. He was selected in the third round of the 1966 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. He played in Philly from 1966-1973 and finished his playing career with the Cleveland Browns in 1974. Hawkins went on to coach in the USFL with the San Antonio Gunslingers in 1984 and the Arizona Outlaws in 1985.
November 6 - Joe Fortunato, a linebacker in the NFL for 12 seasons, dies at the age of 87. Fortunato played college football at VMI and Mississippi State. He was drafted in seventh round of 1952 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears but spent a few years serving in the Army before joining the team. Fortunato played in Chicago from 1955-1966 and won an NFL title with the Bears in 1963. He was inducted into the Mississippi State Ring of Honor just last month.
November 17 – James C. Caroline, (a.k.a. JC, a.k.a. Mr. Zoom) a halfback in the NFL for 10 seasons, dies at the age of 84. Caroline played college football at Illinois and led the nation in rushing as a sophomore in 1953 with 1,256 yards in just nine games. He was selected in the seventh round of the 1956 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears. He played in Chicago from 1956-1965. Prior to playing in the NFL, he spent the 1955 season playing in the Canadian Football League for the Montreal Alouettes and the Toronto Argonauts. Caroline was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1980.
November 20 – Terry Glenn, a former wide receiver in the NFL for 12 seasons, dies in a single-car auto accident near Dallas at the age of 43. Glenn played college football at Ohio State and was selected in the first round (seventh overall) of the 1996 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots. He played for the Patriots from 1996-2001, the Green Bay Packers in 2002 and the Dallas Cowboys from 2003-2007.
November 22 – Brenden Daley, who played in the Arena Football League and Champions Indoor Football, dies of a brain aneurism at the age of 26. Daley played linebacker in college at the University of Hawaii. He went on to attend training camp with the Atlanta Falcons, but did not make the team. He played defensive lineman for the LA Kiss of the Arena Football League in 2015. In 2017, he played for the Bismark Bucks of Champions Indoor Football. The Qingdao Clippers of the Chinese Arena Football League recently drafted him and he was considering playing in China in the spring of 2018.
December 5 – Ron Meyer, a head coach in college, the NFL, CFL and the XFL, dies at the age of 76. Meyer played college football at Purdue where he played quarterback and defensive back. He became an assistant coach with the Boilermakers from 1965-1970. He then spent three years as the head coach at UNLV from 1973-1975. Meyer led the team to a record of 28-7 and was named the Division II Coach of the Year in 1974. He then spent two years as a scout for the NFL Dallas Cowboys before becoming the head coach at SMU from 1976-1981. From there, Meyer became the head coach of the New England Patriots from 1982-1984 and the Indianapolis Colts from 1986-1991. In 1994, Meyer was the head coach of the Las Vegas Posse in the Canadian Football League and in 2001 he was the head coach of the Chicago Enforcers in the XFL.
December 8 – Harold “Tubby” Raymond, a former college football head coach, dies at the age of 92. Raymond went to college at the University of Michigan where he was the captain of the baseball team and played sparingly on the football team as a quarterback and linebacker. He became the backfield coach at the Division II University of Delaware from 1954-1965. He then became the Blue Hens’ head coach in 1966 and remained there for the next 36 years, through the 2001 season. He posted a record of 300-119-3 as the football head coach. He won the 1979 Division II National Championship. The following year (1980), the school moved to Division I-AA, which is today known as the Football Championship Subdivision. Raymond was also the school’s baseball coach from 1956-1964 and posted a record of 164-72-3. Since his retirement in 2002, the playing field at Delaware Stadium has been known as Tubby Raymond Field. Raymond was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2003.
December 13 – Tommy Noblis, who played middle linebacker in the NFL for 11 seasons, dies at the age of 74. Noblis played college football at the University of Texas, winning the Outland Trophy and the Maxwell Award, which led him to appear on the covers of Life Magazine and Sports Illustrated. He was the first overall selection in the 1966 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons. He was the first ever player in team history. Noblis was also selected by the Houston Oilers of the rival American Football League in its player draft. He chose to sign with the Falcons and was with the team from 1966-1976. He was named NFL Rookie of the year in 1966 and became known as Mr. Falcon. His number (60) was retired by the team and he was an inaugural member of the Falcons Ring of Honor in 2004. Noblis was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1981.
December 20 – Charlie Hennigan, a wide receiver in the American Football League for seven seasons, dies at the age of 82. Hennigan played college football at Northwestern State. He signed with the Houston Oilers and played for the team from 1960-1966. He scored the first touchdown in team history when is caught a 43-yard touchdown pass from quarterback George Blanda again the Oakland Raiders on September 11, 1960. Hennigan won two AFL championships with the Oilers in 1960 and 1961. He was inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 1978.