Notable Football Deaths in 2016
by Randy Snow
Original to www.theworldoffootball.com, Thursday, January 12, 2017
Each year, we pause to remember a number of former football players, coaches and others in the football world who passed away during the past 12 months. 2016 is no exception;
January 13, 2016 - Lawrence Phillips, who played three seasons in the NFL, dies of an apparent suicide while in prison in California at the age of 40. Phillips played college football at Nebraska and was selected in the first round of the 1996 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams. He was a running back for the Rams in 1996-1997. He also played for the Miami Dolphins in 1997 and the San Francisco 49ers in 1999. He also played in the Canadian Football League for the Montreal Alouettes in 2002 and spent part of the 2003 season with the Calgary Stampeders. He won a Grey Cup while playing for Montreal. Phillips was convicted in 2008 of driving his car into three teens and was sentenced to 31 years in prison. In April of 2015, he was accused of strangling his cellmate to death and was getting ready to go on trial for that crime at the time of his death.
January 16, 2016 - Ted Marchibroda, who was a head coach in the NFL for 12 seasons, dies at the age of 84. Marchibroda played college football at St. Bonaventure and Detroit Mercy. He was selected in the first round of the 1953 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers. He played quarterback for the Steelers in 1953, 1955 and 1956 and also played for the Chicago Cardinals in 1957. In 1961 he became an assistant coach with the Washington Redskins and also spent time with the Los Angeles Rams before becoming the head coach of the Baltimore Colts from 1975-1979. He then went back to being an assistant coach with the Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Philadelphia Eagles and Buffalo Bills before returning to be the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts from 1992-1995. Marchibroda was also the first head coach of the Baltimore Ravens from 1996-1998. From 1999-2006, he was the color commentator on radio broadcasts for the Colts.
January 19, 2016 - Lou Michaels, who played in college and in the NFL, dies at the age of 80. Michaels was an All-American in 1956 and 1957 while playing on the offensive and defensive lines at Kentucky. He was also a place-kicker and a punter. Michaels was selected in the first round of the 1958 NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Rams. In his 13-year NFL career, he played for the Rams from 1958-1960, the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1961-1963, the Baltimore Colts from 1964-1969 and the Green Bay Packers in 1970. He played on the Colts team that lost to Joe Namath and the New York Jets in Super Bowl III. His older brother, Walt Michaels, was an assistant coach for the Jets at the time and later became the Jets head coach from 1977-1982. Lou Michaels was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1992. Two years earlier, in 1990, Kentucky retired his number 79.
January 25, 2016 - Billy Fletcher, dies at the age of 72. Fletcher played college football at Ole Miss as a freshman and then transferred to Memphis State where he set 15 passing records playing quarterback from 1963-1965. He played briefly for the AFL Denver Broncos in 1966. He was inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame in 2001.
February 6, 2016 - Sam Spence, the man behind the music of NFL Films from 1966-1990, dies of mesothelioma in a nursing home in Lewisville, Texas at the age of 88. The original NFL Films composer was Mahlon Merrick, who worked on The Jack Benny Program. When Merrick became too busy to continue at NFL Films, he suggested they hire his friend Spence as his replacement. Spence studied music at UCLA and USC and also served time in the Navy in the 1940s. Spence lived and worked in Munich, Germany for most of his adult life where he also wrote music for German television. He was the last of the four icons at NFL Films to pass away; company founder Ed Sabol died in 2015, his son Steve Sabol died in 2012 and narrator John Facenda, known as the Voice of God, died in 1984.
February 8, 2016 - Willie Richardson, a wide receiver in the NFL for nine seasons, dies at the age of 76. Richardson played college football at Jackson State College. In 1963, he was selected in the seventh round of the NFL Draft by the Baltimore Colts and also in the third round of the American Football League Draft by the New York Jets. He signed with the Colts and played in Baltimore from 1963-1969. He also played for the Miami Dolphins in 1970 and returned to finish his playing career with the Colts in 1971. In Super Bowl III, Richardson and the Colts lost to the Jets. He had three brothers who also played in the NFL; Gloster, Tom and Ernie. After retiring as a player, he became an analyst for Jackson State football broadcasts. Willie Richardson was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2003.
February 12, 2016 - Ellison Kelly, who played 13 seasons in the Canadian Football League, dies at the age of 80. Kelly played college football at Michigan State and was selected in the fifth round of the 1959 NFL Draft by the New York Giants. He played the 1959 season with the Giants before signing with the CFL Hamilton Tiger-Cats the following year. He played in Hamilton from 1960-1970. Kelly also played for the Toronto Argonauts in 1971 and 1972. He won three Grey Cup championships with the Tiger-Cats in 1963, 1965 and 1967 and played in a fourth with Toronto in 1971. Kelly was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1992.
February 13, 2016 - Johnny Lattner, a halfback who won the Heisman Trophy in 1953, dies at the age of 83. Lattner played college football at Notre Dame. He was also the first two-time winner of the Maxwell Award, (1952 and 1953) which is given annually to the most outstanding college player in the country. He was selected in the first round of the 1954 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Lattner played just one season for the Steelers before joining the Air Force in 1955. His original Heisman Trophy was destroyed in a fire at one of his restaurants, but he received a replacement. Over the years he was also a high school football coach in Wisconsin and an assistant football coach at the University of Denver. Lattner was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1979.
March 3, 2016 - Mike Widger, who played nine seasons in the Canadian Football League, dies at the age of 67. The cause of death was not immediately known. Widger played college football at Virginia Tech and was an All-American. He played for the CFL Montreal Alouettes from 1970-1976 and the Ottawa Rough Riders in 1978 and 1979. Widger won two Grey Cups with Montreal, in 1970 and 1974. After he retired, he became part owner in a Montreal bar called The Longest Yard.
March 5, 2016 - Albert Wistert, who played in college and in the NFL, dies at the age of 95. Wistert played college football at Michigan. He had two brothers who also played for the Wolverines, Alvin and Francis. All three were tackles and all three wore the number 11, a number which has since been retired by the school. Albert was selected in the fifth round on the 1943 NFL Draft by the Phil/Pitt Steagles. The team was a combination of the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Philadelphia Eagles which was brought about as a result of a shortage of players due to World War II. He played his rookie season with the Steagles (1943) and the rest of his career (1944-1951) with the Eagles. Wistert won back-to-back NFL titles with Philadelphia in 1948 and 1949. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1968, the U of M Athletic Hall of Honor in 1981 and the Eagles Hall of Fame in 2009.
March 13, 2016 - Jon Roehik, who played in college and in the Arena Football League, dies at the age of 54 from a variety of health issues. Roehik played college football at Iowa where he was a linebacker and later an offensive lineman. He tried out for several NFL teams including the Detroit Lions, Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles, but never caught on with a team. In 1987, he started three games for the Chicago Bears as a replacement player during the NFL player's strike. He then played in the Arena Football League for nine seasons. He played in the first test game of Arena Football in 1986 and then played for the Washington Commandos in the AFL's first season in 1987. Roehik then played for Detroit Drive from 1988-1993 and played in the league title game all six years, winning titles in 1988, 1989, 1990 and 1992. He then played for the Miami Hooters in 1994 and the Iowa Barnstormers in 1995. After his playing career as an offensive/defensive lineman was over, he served as the line coach with the Quad City Steamwheelers of arenafootball2 from 2002-2006. Roehik was inducted into the Arena Football Hall of Fame in 1999.
March 17, 2016 - Jim Herbstreit, who played running back and defensive back in college, dies at the age of 77. Herbstreit was captain of the 1960 Ohio State football team. After graduating in 1961, he became an assistant coach at the school under head coach Woody Hayes. In 1963, another assistant coach of the Buckeyes, Bo Schembechler, took the head coaching job at Miami University in Ohio and Herbsreit went with him. Herbstreit remain at Miami for two years and then went into private business. His son, Kirk Herbstreit, who is now a college football analyst for ESPN and ABC, was also captain of the Ohio State football team in 1992.
March 24, 2016 - Kevin Turner, a lead plaintiff in a concussion lawsuit against the NFL, dies at the age of 46. Turner played college football at Alabama and was selected in the third round of the 1992 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots. He played fullback for New England from 1992-1994 and then for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1995-1999. He was diagnosed with ALS in 2010. He appeared in a 2012 documentary called "American Man: The Price of Gridiron Glory," which chronicled of his life. The NFL agreed to a $765 million settlement in the lawsuit in 2013. However, some players appealed the settlement and the lawsuit is still in the courts at this time.
March 26, 2016 - James Owen, one of the pioneers to break the color barrier in college football, dies at the age of 65. Owens was the first African- American to receive a scholarship at Auburn in 1969. He was a running back and played during the 1971 and 1972 seasons. In 2012, the school established the James Owens Courage Award in his honor.
March 27, 2016 - Raymond Spencer, a two-way player in college, dies at the age of 60. Spencer played college football at Michigan State from 1972-1976. He was an offensive lineman as well as a defensive end. Spencer was the first freshman to ever start on the MSU varsity football team. After college, he played briefly for the San Francisco 49ers, but a knee injury ended his playing career. He then went back to school and became a preacher.
March 31, 2016 - Eugene Parker, one of the first prominent African-American sports agents, dies of cancer at that age of 60. Parker played college basketball at Purdue and was selected in the 1978 NBA Draft by the San Antonio Spurs, but never played pro basketball. His first NFL client as an agent in 1982 was Roosevelt Barnes, Jr., a linebacker for the Detroit Lions. Barnes later became an agent and a partner in Parker's company, Relativity Sports. In 2011, Parker introduced his client, Deion Sanders during his induction ceremony into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Parker was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001.
May 2, 2016 - Jacky Lee, who played in all 10 seasons of the American Football League of the 1960s, dies from complications of Alzheimer's Disease at the age of 77. Lee played college football at the University of Cincinnati. He was drafted in the sixth round of the 1960 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Cardinals as well as by the Houston Oilers in the first round of the AFL Draft. He played for the Oilers from 1960-1963, the Denver Broncos from 1964-1965, Houston again in 1966 and part of 1967 and he finished his playing career with the Kansas City Chiefs from 1967-1969. He won the first two AFL titles with the Oilers in 1960 and 1961 and won Super Bowl IV as a member of the Chiefs. He was inducted into the U of C Athletics Hall of Fame in 1985. In 2006, Lee became a charter member of the Nippert Stadium Ring of Honor.
May 5, 2016 - Bill MacDermott, a former coach in the Canadian Football League and the NFL, dies at the age of 79. MacDermott played college football at Trinity College and coached for over 50 years at just about every level of high school and college football in the U.S. and Canada. He was the head coach at Wesleyan University from 1971-1986 where he coached a player by the name of Bill Belichick, the current head coach of the New England Patriots. College football teams in Canada include the Edmonton Huskies, the University of Alberta Golden Bears and the Ottawa Gee-Gees. In the CFL, he coached for the Toronto Argonauts, Montreal Alouettes, Saskatchewan Roughriders, Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Edmonton Eskimos. He won three Grey Cup championships with Edmonton in 1993, 2003 and 2005. MacDermott also spent time with the Orlando Thunder in the World League of American Football in 1991 as well as the NFL San Diego Chargers from 1997-1998.
May 18, 2016 - Dave Lane, a former college and CFL player in Canada, dies at the age of 65. Lane played college football at the University of Guelph in Canada. He was a standout defensive back for three seasons and was selected by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the seventh round of the 1974 CFL Draft. He played only a part of his rookie season before an injury suffered in college ended his playing career. Lane went on to coach high school football and also spent time as the president of the Tiger-Cats Alumni Association. In 2015, he was knighted by the Order of Saint George in Canada for his commitment to helping others. Lane was inducted into the University of Guelph Hall of Fame in 1986.
May 26, 2016 - Bob Williams, who played quarterback in college and in the NFL, dies at the age of 86. Williams played college football at Notre Dameand helped lead the team to an undefeated season and a National Championship in 1949 as a junior. He was selected in the first round of the 1951 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears. Williams played for the Bears in 1951 and 1952, then joined the Navy and served in Korea. After serving in the military, he returned to play for the Bears in 1955. Williams was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1988.
June 11, 2016 - Bryan Robinson, who played in college and in the NFL, dies at the age of 41. The cause of death was not immediately known. Robinson played college football at the College of the Desert and at Fresno State. He signed with the St. Louis Rams in 1997 as an undrafted free agent and was a defensive lineman. He played for the Rams for one season then went on to play for the Chicago Bears (1998-2003), Miami Dolphins (2004), Cincinnati Bengals (2005-2007) and the Arizona Cardinals (2008-2010). He played in Super Bowl XLIII for Arizona.
June 12, 2016 - Earl Faison, who played in college and in the NFL, dies at the age of 77. Faison played college football at Indiana University and was selected as the team's MVP in 1960. He was then selected in the first round of the 1961 American Football League Draft (seventh overall) by the San Diego Chargers. Faison played defensive end for the Chargers from 1961-1966 and was the team's MVP and Rookie of the Year in 1961. He helped lead the Chargers to three AFL title games (1961, 1963, 1964), winning a championship in 1963. He finished his playing career with the Miami Dolphins in 1966. After his playing career was over, Faison went on to coach high school football in San Diego and became a teacher and school administrator. He was inducted into the Chargers Hall of Fame in 1986 and the Indiana University Athletics Hall of Fame in 1990.
June 15, 2016 - Fred James, who played nine seasons in the Canadian Football League, dies at the age of 71. James played college football at the University of Alberta and was selected in the first round of the 1966 CFL Draft by the Calgary Stampeders as a junior. He opted to finish college before joining the team and was a defensive lineman for the Stampeders from 1967-1975. He appeared in 15 playoff games and three Grey Cup championship games (1968, 1970, 1971), winning a CFL title with Calgary in 1971 over the Toronto Argonauts and their quarterback, Joe Theismann. He finished his playing career with the Edmonton Eskimos in 1975 and won a second Grey Cup title that year.
June 28, 2016 – Buddy Ryan, a former head coach in the NFL, dies at the age of 85. Ryan served in the Army during the Korean War, then played college football at Oklahoma State University. He spent time as an assistant football coach at Vanderbilt and the University of Buffalo before becoming an assistant coach with the New York Jets in 1968. The Jets went on to win Super Bowl III that year. He was also the defensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings in 1976 and 1977 where his defensive unit was known as the “Purple People Eaters.” He is best known as the defensive coordinator of the Chicago Bears from 1978-1985. The 1985 Bears won the Super Bowl that year and posted a record of 15-1. Ryan was also the creator of the “46” Defense, which was named after the jersey number of Bears safety, Doug Plank. Ryan went on be become the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles from 1986-1990 and the Arizona Cardinals from 1994-1995. Buddy Ryan is the father of current Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan and assistant Bills coach Rob Ryan.
June 29, 2016 – Zurlon Tipton, dies of an accidental gunshot wound at the age of 26. He was dropping his vehicle off at a Roseville, Michigan dealership when he reached for a bag in the vehicle and one of two handguns in the bag went off, shooting him in the stomach. Tipton played college football at Central Michigan. He signed with the Indianapolis Colts as an undrafted free agent in 2014 and was a backup running back and special teams players for the Colts in 2014 and 2015. Tipton was waived by the team last December.
July 9, 2016 – Ron “The Badger” Allbright, who played 12 seasons in the Canadian Football League, dies at the age of 81. Allbright played junior college in Canada for the Calgary Bronks and was an offensive and defensive lineman. He played his entire career (1956-1967) with the Calgary Stampeders. Allbright was added to the Stampeders Wall of Fame in 2014.
July 19, 2016 – Robert Newhouse, who played fullback in the NFL for 12 seasons, dies of heart disease at the age of 64. Newhouse played college football at the University of Houston and was selected in the second round of the 1972 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys. He played his entire NFL career with the Cowboys from 1972-1983. Newhouse played in three Super Bowls with Dallas and became the first running back to throw a touchdown pass in a Super Bowl game when he connected with wide receiver Golden Richards in a 27-10 win over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XII. Newhouse is a member of the Texas Black Sports Hall of Fame and the University of Houston Athletics Hall of Honor.
July 21, 2016 - Dennis Green, a former head coach in college and in the NFL, dies at the age of 67. Green played college football at Iowa and was a running back from 1968-1970. He was a college head coach at Northwestern from 1981-1985 and at Stanford from 1989-1991. He was the head coach of the NFL Minnesota Vikings from 1992-2001 and the Arizona Cardinals from 2004-2006. He also spent time coaching in the United Football League (UFL) with the California Redwoods in 2009 and the Sacramento Mountain Lions from 2010-2011.
July 22, 2016 – Roger “Zeke” Smith, who played in the NFL and the CFL, dies at the age of 79. Smith played college football at Auburn and was on the 1957 Auburn national championship team. He was awarded the Outland Trophy in 1958 as the nation’s best interior lineman and selected in the fourth round of the 1959 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Colts. He played linebacker, guard and end for the Colts in 1960 and the New York Giants in 1961. Auburn annually presents the Zeke Smith Award to the team’s top defensive player. Smith was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 1982.
July 23, 2016 – Two college football punters were killed in a car crash in Wisconsin. Mike Sadler, age 22, from Michigan State and Sam Foltz, age 24, from Nebraska were driving near Merton, Wisconsin when Sadler lost control of the vehicle he was driving on wet pavement and hit a tree. The two were acting as counselors at a weekend kicking camp. Foltz was entering his senior season with the Corn Huskers while Sadler graduated from MSU in 2015. Sadler was set to enter the Stanford Law School this fall. Placekicker Colby Delahoussaye, age 21, from LSU was also in the vehicle and injured in the accident. He was taken to a local hospital where he was treated for burns on his legs.
August 6, 2016 - Art Demmas, a former NFL referee, dies at the age of 82. Demmas was a lineman in college at Vanderbilt. He began officiating high school football games in 1958 and then officiated college football games in the SEC for eight seasons. He began calling games in the NFL in 1967 and retired in 2006. Demmas worked four Super Bowls and many playoff games. In 1997, he was inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame.
August 9, 2016 – Bill Dooley, a former college football head coach, dies at the age of 82. Dooley was a lineman in college at Mississippi State. He went on to be an assistant coach at Georgia for three years and then was the head coach at North Carolina from 1967-1977. He led the Tar Heels to six bowl games in 11 seasons. He was named the ACC Coach of the Year in 1971. In 1978, Dooley became the head coach and athletic director at Virginia Tech. He remained at the school through 1986 and then finished his head coaching career at Wake Forest from 1987-1992.
September 3, 2016 – Norman “Normie” Kwong, a.k.a. the China Clipper, dies at the age of 86. Kwong played in the Canadian Football League for 13 season, first for the Calgary Stampeders (1948-1950) and then for the Edmonton Eskimos (1951-1960). He won four Grey Cup titles, one with Calgary in his rookie season of 1948, and three consecutive titles with Edmonton from 1954-1956. In 1956, he also set a CFL record for most rushing yards in a single season with 1,437. That record stood for 56 years and is still an Edmonton team record today. He also holds the Eskimos team record for most rushing touchdowns in a career with 72. Kwong was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1969, the Canada Sports Hall of Fame in 1975, the Eskimos Wall of Honour in 1983 and the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame in 1987. After his football career, Kwong went into politics. He became a member of the Order of Canada in 1988 and served as Lieutenant-Governor of Alberta 2005-2010. He also spent time as the President of the Stampeders and was a part-owner of the NHL Calgary Flames. In 1989, the Flames won the Stanley Cup, making Kwong one of the few people to have his name engraved Grey Cup and the Stanley Cup.
September 17, 2016 - Clarence Brooks, an assistant coach with the Baltimore Ravens, dies of cancer at the age of 65. Brooks played college football at UMass where he was a guard. He spent time as a college football assistant coach at Arizona, Syracuse and Massachusetts before moving the NFL. He spent time with the Cleveland Browns, Miami Dolphins and Chicago Bears before joining the Ravens coaching staff in 2005. Brooks was the Ravens defensive line coach from 2005-2015. In December of last year, he took on the role of senior defensive assistant after he was diagnosed with cancer.
September 25, 2016 - Mylan Hicks a player in the Canadian Football League, dies after an altercation at a night club in Canada at the age of 23. Hicks played college football at Michigan State from 2010-2014. He signed with the Calgary Stampeders in May of this year and played defensive back for the team. Hicks was shot in the early morning hours at a Calgary night club while celebrating a 36-34 win the day before over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers with some teammates.
October 15, 2016 – Dennis Byrd, a former NFL player, dies in a car crash at the age of 50. Byrd played college football at the University of Tulsa and was selected in the second round of the 1989 NFL Draft by the New York Jets. He was a defensive lineman and suffered a career-ending neck injury in 1992. He was paralyzed from the waist down in a game against the Kansas City Chiefs. After more than a year of rehabilitation, Byrd regained use of his legs. His autobiography, “Rise and Walk: The Trial and Triumph of Dennis Byrd” was made into a television movie in 1994. In 1992, the Jets established the Dennis Byrd Award, which is given annually to the team’s most inspirational player. In 2012, the Jets retired his number 90, just the fifth in team history.
October 15, 2016 – Quinton Groves, a former NFL player, dies of a heart attack at the age of 32. He suffered from Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, which causes rapid heartbeats. Groves played college football at Auburn and was selected in the second round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars. He played two seasons in Jacksonville and was then traded to the Oakland Raiders where he played two more seasons. Groves also spent time with the Arizona Cardinals, Cleveland Browns, Houston Texans, Tennessee Titans and Buffalo Bills. The Bills cut him prior to the start of the 2015 season.
October 20, 2016 – Gail Cogdill, a former wide receiver in the NFL, dies at the age of 79. Cogdill played college football at Washington State and was selected in the 6th round of the 1960 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions. He was named the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year in 1960. He played in Detroit from 1960-1968. Cogdill was also named the Lions team MVP in 1962.
October 26, 2016 – Vic Rapp, a former head coach in the Canadian Football League and an assistant coach with several teams in the NFL, dies at the age of 80. Rapp played college football at Arkansas and was an offensive guard. He began his coaching career in college in 1965 when he joined the coaching staff at Arizona. Rapp then spent five seasons with Missouri beginning in 1967 before moving to the CFL. He became the offensive coordinator of the Edmonton Eskimos from 1972-1976 before becoming the head coach of the British Columbia Lions from 1977-1982. He was named CFL Coach of the Year in 1977. He then went on to be an assistant coach in the NFL for the Houston Oilers, Los Angeles Rams, Detroit Lions, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Chicago Bears. The final coaching stop in his 33-year career was with the Arizona Cardinals from 1996-2000, where he coached the wide receivers. Rapp was inducted into the BC Lions Wall of Fame in 2010.
October 30, 2016 - John Hicks, who played in college and in the NFL, dies at the age of 65. Hicks played right tackle in college at Ohio State and was selected in the first round of the 1974 NFL Draft by the New York Giants. He played for the Giants from 1974-1977. Injuries ended his playing career after just four seasons. In 1973, Hicks won the Outland Trophy and the Lombardi Award as the best lineman in college football. He also finished second that year in the Heisman Trophy voting behind running back John Cappelletti of Penn State. Hicks was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2001 and in the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame in 2010.
December 1, 2016 - Joe McKnight, who played in the NFL and the CFL, dies at the age of 28 during an apparent road rage incident near New Orleans. McKnight played college football at USC and was selected in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the New York Jets. He played running back for the Jets for three seasons, 2010-2012, and also played one season for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2014. This past season, McKnight made his debut in the Canadian Football League He played two games early in the season for the Edmonton Eskimos and then signed with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
December 5, 2016 – Rashaan Salaam, a running back who rushed for 2,055 yards in 1994 on his way to winning the Heisman Trophy, dies at the age of 42. The cause of death was not immediately known. His body was found in a park in Boulder, Colorado. Police are investigating his death as a possible suicide. Salaam played college football at Colorado and was selected in the first round of the 1995 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears. He played for the Bears from 1995-1997. He then played two games for the Cleveland Browns in 1999. In 2001, Salaam played for the Memphis Maniax of the XFL.
December 29, 2016 - Reuben LaVell Edwards, a college football coach who won a national championship, dies from complications of a broken hip at the age of 86. Edwards played college football at Utah State where he was a center and linebacker. He joined the coaching staff at BYU in 1962 and be became the head coach in 1972. Edwards remained the school's head coach for 29 seasons and retired in 2000. His 1984 team went 13-0 and won a national championship. He produced a number of notable quarterbacks during is time at the school, including Jim McMahon, Steve Young and Ty Detmer. Detmer won the Heisman Trophy in 1990. His coaching record at the school was 257-101-3. The school renamed its stadium LaVell Edwards Stadium upon his retirement. Edwards was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2004.
December 29, 2016 – Keion Carpenter, who played in college and in the NFL, dies at the age of 39. The cause of death was not immediately known. Carpenter played college football at Virginia Tech and was a free safety, but really excelled on special teams. He blocked six kicks during his college career. He signed as a free agent with the Buffalo Bills in 1999 and played there for three seasons (1999-2001). Carpenter then signed with the Atlanta Falcons and was with that team for another three seasons (2002, 2003 and 2005). He registered 14 interception in six NFL seasons.