Football News Headlines
NOTE: The intent of the News Section is not to dwell on negative stories that are more suited to be found in the Police and Crime Section of your local newspaper, but to report and document stories that cover the entire realm of The World of Football. Chances are, you may not have seen some of these stories before.
(Obituary) February 28, 2021 – Irv Cross, an NFL player and later a broadcaster, dies at the age of 81. Cross played college football at Northwestern and was selected in the seventh round of the 1961 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. He played defensive back for the Eagles from 1961-1965. He was then traded to the Los Angles Rams where he played from 1966-1968 and then he re-signed with the Eagles in 1969. He was also the Eagles’ defensive backs coach in 1969 and 1970. Cross went on to be a broadcaster. In 1971 he was hired by CBS as a game analyst. In 1975, he joined Brent Musburger, Phyllis George and Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder on the CBS show, THE NFL TODAY, which was the first live NFL pregame show. He remained on the show for 14 years, through 1988. After he left CBS, he spent time as the athletic director at FCS Idaho State and also at Division III Macalester College in Minnesota.
(Obituary) February 27, 2021– Louis Nix III, a defensive tackle in the NFL, dies at the age of 29. He had been reported missing by his family a few days before he was found dead in his Jacksonville apartment. The cause of death was not immediately released. His car was also found in a pond near his apartment. Nix played college football at Notre Dame and was selected in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Houston Texans. He was with the Texans for one season but did not appear in any games for the team. In 2015, he played in four games for the New York Giants. He also spent time on the practice squads of the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Washington Football Team. His brief NFL career came to an end in 2017.
(Obituary) February 26, 2021 – John Mendenhall, a defensive tackle in the NFL for nine seasons, dies at the age of 72. Mendenhall played college football at Grambling and was selected in the third round of the 1972 NFL Draft by the New York Giants. He played in New York from 1972-1979 and finished his playing career with the Detroit Lions in 1980.
(Obituary) February 25, 2021 – Art Michalik, (pronounced Ma-HAY-lick) who played linebacker and guard in the NFL for four seasons, dies at the age of 91. Michalik played college football at St. Ambrose and was selected in the 17th round of the 1951 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers. He spent a couple of years serving in the United States Marine Corps before joining the 49ers, where he played in 1953 and 1954. He also played for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1955 and 1956. During a game against the Cleveland Browns in his rookie season, he hit Browns quarterback Otto Graham so hard that Graham had to be taken to the locker room. He returned to the game with a makeshift, clear Plexiglas face guard attached to his helmet. This eventually led to facemasks being adopted by the NFL. After he retired from football, Michalik became a professional wrestler known a “Boom Boom” Michalik. After his pro wrestling career was over, he became a high school teacher and coach.
(Obituary) February 25, 2021 – Darrius Johnson, a defensive back in the NFL for five seasons, dies at the age of 48. Johnson played college football at Oklahoma and was selected in the fourth round of the 1996 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos. He played in Denver from 1996-1999 and won two Super Bowls in 1998 and 1999. He also played for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2003.
(Obituary) February 23, 2021 – Dick Witcher, a wide receiver and tight end in the NFL for eight seasons, dies at the age of 76. Witcher played college football at UCLA and was selected in the eighth round of the 1966 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers. He played his entire career with the 49ers from 1966-1973.
(Obituary) February 22, 2021 – Doug Wilkerson, a guard in the NFL for 15 seasons, dies at the age of 73. Wilkerson played college football at HBCU North Carolina Central and was the 14th overall pick in the 1970 NFL Draft by the Houston Oilers. He played just one season in Houston before being traded to the San Diego Chargers the following year. He played for the Chargers from 1971-1984. Wilkerson was inducted into the North Carolina Central University Hall of Fame in 1984, the San Diego Chargers Hall of Fame in 2000 and the Black College Football Hall of Fame in 2014.
(Obituary) February 18, 2021 – John Roach, a quarterback, punter and defensive back in the NFL for seven seasons, dies at the age of 87. Roach played college football at SMU and was selected in the third round of the 1956 NFL Draft by the Chicago Cardinals. He played for the Cardinals in 1957, then spent two years serving in the U.S. Air Force before returning to the Cardinals in 1959. He also played for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1960, the Green Bay Packers from 1961-1963 and the Dallas Cowboys in 1964. Roach won two NFL titles as a member of the Packers in 1961 and 1962.
(Obituary) February 16, 2021 – Wayne Nunnely, an assistant coach in the NFL for 17 seasons, dies at the age of 68. Nunnely played fullback in college at UNLV. After graduating, he went into coaching at the college level. He spent time as an assistant at Cal Poly Pomona, Cal State Fullerton, College of the Pacific and UNLV. He became the interim head coach at UNLV in 1986 and was the head coach there through 1989. Nunnely was just the fifth black head coach in NCAA Division One history. He went on to be an assistant coach at USC in 1991-1994 before moving to the NFL. Nunnely was an assistant coach with the New Orleans Saint from 1995-1996, the San Diego Chargers from 1997-2008 and the Denver Broncos from 2009-2011.
(Obituary) February 15, 2021 – Vincent Jackson, a wide receiver in the NFL for 12 seasons, dies at the age of 38. His family had reported him missing on February 10. Authorities located him at a hotel on February 12 and spoke to him. He was found dead at the hotel three days later. The cause of death was not immediately known. Jackson played college football at FCS Northern Colorado and was selected in the second round of the 2005 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers. He played in San Diego from 2005-2011. Jackson finished his playing career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2012-2016.
(Obituary) February 14, 2021 – Lorenzo Washington, a former college football national champion, dies at the age of 34. The cause of death was not immediately announced. Washington played defensive end for Alabama and was a part of the 2009 national championship team. Washington then had a brief career in the NFL as a practice squad player for the Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots, New York Jets and Detroit Lions.
(Obituary) February 11, 2021 – Carl “Duke” Iverson, a former college football coach, dies at the age of 80. Iverson was the head coach at NAIA and Division II Western Colorado University from 1988-1995 and from 1997-2000. In 1991, he was named NAIA National Coach of the Year. He is second on the Mountaineers' all-time wins list with a record of 79-47-1. Iverson was inducted into the Mountaineer Sports Hall of Fame in 2010. He also coached at NAIA schools Black Hills State and Western Oregon. Iverson finished his coaching career with a record of 126-85-3.
(Obituary) February 9, 2021– Prince McJunkins, a quarterback in college and in the CFL, dies at the age of 59. McJunkins played college football at Wichita State and was the first NCAA player to throw for more than 4,000 yards and rush for more than 2,000 yards in a college career. He went on to play two seasons in the Canadian Football League for the Ottawa Rough Riders in 1983 and 1984.
(Obituary) February 8, 2021 - Willie Scott, a tight end in the NFL for eight seasons, dies at the age of 61. Scott played college football at the University of South Carolina and was the 14th overall pick in the 1981 NFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs. He played in Kansas City from 1981-1985 and also for the New England Patriots from 1986-1988. He was inducted into the University of South Carolina Hall of Fame in 2006.
(Obituary) February 8, 2021 – Marty Schottenheimer, a head coach in the NFL for 21 seasons, dies from complications of Alzheimer’s Disease at the age of 77. Schottenheimer played college football at the University of Pittsburgh and was selected in the fourth round of the 1965 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Colts. He was also selected in the seventh round of the 1965 AFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills. He signed with the Bills and played four seasons in Buffalo from 1965-1968 as a middle linebacker. He also played for the Boston Patriots in 1969 and 1970 before going into coaching. He started out as an assistant coach with the Portland Storm of the World Football League in 1974 before moving on to the NFL where he was an assistant with the New York Giants, Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns between 1975-1984. He became the head coach of the Browns in 1985 and remained there through 1988. He was also the head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs from 1989-1998, the Washington Redskins in 2001 and the San Diego Chargers from 2002-2006. He was named NFL Coach of the Year in 2004. Schottenheimer was the eighth-winningest coach in NFL history, posting a record of 200-126-1. In 2011, he was the head coach and general manager of the Virginia Destroyers of the United Football League.
(NFL) February 7, 2021 - The Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9 in Super Bowl LV. Bucs QB Tom Brady was named the game's MVP for the fifth time and collected his seventh ring in 10 Super Bowl appearances.
(Obituary) February 6, 2021 – Charlie Krueger, a defensive tackle in the NFL for 15 seasons, dies at the age of 84. Krueger played college football at Texas A&M and was the ninth overall pick in 1958 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers. However, he sat out his rookie season due to an injury. He played his entire career with the 49ers from 1959-1973. Krueger helped lead the team to three consecutive NFC West conference titles from 1970-1972. His jersey number (70) was retired in 1974 and he was inducted into the inaugural class of the 49ers' Hall of Fame in 2009. He was also inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1983, the Texas A&M Athletics Hall of Fame in 1972, the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 2014.
(Obituary) February 5, 2021 – Aurealius Thomas, a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, dies at the age of 86. Thomas played at Ohio State from 1955-1957 and won a national championship in 1957. Thomas was selected in the 22nd round of the 1957 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers, but he never played in the NFL. Instead, he became a coach and a teacher. After he graduated, he spent time as an assistant coach under Woody Hayes at Ohio State. He then coached at East High School in Columbus. In 1964, his team posted a 9-0 record, earning him Central Ohio Coach of the Year honors. He also taught science and physical education in the Columbus Public Schools system for 20 years. After coaching, he started a career in insurance, and started his own insurance brokerage firm in Columbus, Ohio. Thomas was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1989 and the Ohio State Sports Hall of Fame in 1992.
(Obituary) January 26, 2021 – Fred Forsberg, who played linebacker in the NFL and the CFL, dies at the age of 74. Forsberg played college football at the University of Washington and was selected in the 14th round of the 1966 American Football League Draft by the Denver Broncos. However, he chose to sign with the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League and played north of the border in 1966. He then signed with the Broncos in 1968 and played in Denver in 1968 and from 1970-1973. He was traded to the Buffalo Bills during the 1973 season and played his final NFL season with the San Diego Chargers.(Obituary) January 26, 2021 – Gene McDowell, a former college football head coach, dies at the age of 80. McDowell played linebacker and guard at Florida State. He then went into coaching at the school in 1968 and 1969. He then spent four years as an assistant coach at Kansas State from 1970-1973 before returning to FSU as an assistant coach from 1974-1984. In 1985, he became the head coach and athletic director at the University of Central Florida. The program was struggling financially so he signed a contract for just one dollar for the first year. He is considered by many to have single-handedly saved the football program at UCF. In 1990, McDowell won the Eddie Robinson Award as the Division I-AA Coach of the Year. McDowell coached at UCF from 1985-1997 and posted a record of 86-61. He also coached the Tallahassee Thunder of arenafootball2 in the early 2000s. McDowell was inducted into the Florida State Hall of Fame in 1985.
(Obituary) January 26, 2021 – Patricia Rooney, the widow of former Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney, dies at the age of 88. Patricia and Dan were married in 1952 and raised nine children. Dan Rooney passed away in 2017.
(Obituary) January 22, 2021 - Tony Jones, who played guard and tackle in the NFL for 13 seasons, dies at the age of 54. Jones played college football at West Carolina and signed as an undrafted free agent with the Cleveland Browns in 1988. He played in Cleveland from 1988-1995. He also played for the Baltimore Ravens in 1996. In 1997, Jones was traded to the Denver Broncos, where he finished his playing career from 1997-2000. He won back-to-back Super Bowls with Denver in 1997 and 1998.
(Obituary) January 21, 2021 – Roger LeClerc, a linebacker, center and kicker in the NFL for eight seasons, dies at the age of 84. LeClerc played college football at Trinity College and was selected in the 15th round of the 1959 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears. He played in Chicago from 1960-1966 and won an NFL title with the Bears in 1963. He finished his playing career with the Denver Broncos of the American Football League in 1967. After he retired as a player, LeClerc spent 30 years as a high school math teacher in Massachusetts.
(Obituary) January 21, 2021 – Alicia Landry, the widow of former Dallas Cowboys head coach Tom Landry, dies at the age of 91. They met while both were students at the University of Texas and were married for 51 years before Tom Landry's death in 2000. The Landry’s had three children, Tom, Lisa and Kitty.
(Obituary) January 20, 2021 – Bud Lea, a sports reporter for the Milwaukee Sentinel who covered the Green Bay Packers for over 40 years, dies at the age of 92. Lea began covering the team in 1954 and retired from the newspaper in 1995. He was in attendance at the Ice Bowl game as well as the first two Super Bowls. After he retired from the paper, he continued to write for the publication “Packer Plus” for another 16 years. He covered the entire Vince Lombardi era of the team and became the sports editor of the newspaper in 1972. In 2002, he wrote a book called, Magnificent Seven: The Championship Games That Built the Lombardi Dynasty. He was inducted into the Milwaukee Press Club Hall of Fame in 2004. Lea also served on the selection committees for the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
(Obituary) January 20, 2021 – Ted Thompson, the former general manager of the Green Bay Packers, dies at the age of 68. Thompson played college football at SMU. He signed as a free agent with the Houston Oilers and played his entire 10-year NFL career with the team from 1975-1984 as a linebacker. Thompson was the Packers GM from 2005-2017. His first ever draft pick for the team was quarterback Aaron Rogers, which resulted in the team winning a Super Bowl in 2010.
(Obituary) January 16, 2021 – Steve Molnar, who played fullback in the Canadian Football League for 10 seasons, dies at the age of 73. Molnar played college football at Utah. He signed with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 1969 and played for the team through 1978. He played in three Grey Cup games, but never won a title.
(Obituary) January 16, 2021 – Jon Arnett, who was a running back in the NFL for 10 seasons, dies of heart failure at the age of 85. Arnett played college football at USC and was the second overall pick in the 1957 NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Rams. He played seven seasons in LA from 1957-1963. His nickname was “Jaguar Jon” and he still holds the Rams record for longest kickoff return in team history; 105-yards against the Detroit Lions in 1961. He finished his playing career with the Chicago Bears from 1964-1966. Arnett was in the inaugural class for the USC Athletics Hall of Fame in 1994 and was also inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2001.
(Obituary) January 12, 2021 – Bruce Bennett, who played quarterback and defensive back in the Canadian Football League for seven seasons, dies of complication of pneumonia and COVID-19 at the age of 77. Bennett played college football at the University of Florida. He signed with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 1966 and played for the team through 1972. He won a Grey Cup title in his rookie season. On Aug. 27, 1972, Bennett recorded the longest interception return in Roughriders history with a 112-yard return in a home game against the Calgary Stampeders. Bennett was inducted into the Roughriders’ Plaza of Honour in 1991. After his pro career was over, Bennet spent 10 years as the head coach at Ware County High School in Waycross, Georgia. Bennett is a member of the Waycross-Ware County Sports Hall of Fame and the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame.
(Obituary) January 12, 2021 Tim Lester, who was a fullback in the NFL for eight seasons, dies at the age of 52. Lester played college football at Eastern Kentucky and was selected in the 10th round of the 1992 NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Rams. He played for the Rams from 1992-1994, the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1995-1998 and he ended his playing career with the Dallas Cowboys in 1999. While playing for the Steelers and Rams, Lester was a lead blocker for Jerome Bettis and was sometimes referred to as the “Bus Driver” for leading the way for Bettis, aka “The Bus.”
(Obituary) January 12, 2021 – Carlos Joseph, who was an offensive lineman in the NFL for three seasons, dies of a brain aneurism at the age of 40. Joseph played college football for the Miami Hurricanes and won a national championship at the school in 2001. He was selected in the seventh round of the 2004 NFL draft by the San Diego Chargers. He was with the Chargers in 2004 and 2005 and the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2006. He also played for the Colone Centurions and the Berlin Thunder of NFL Europe in 2006 and for the Las Vegas Gladiators of the Arena Football League in 2007.
(College) January 11, 2021 - The University of Alabama defeated Ohio State 52-24 in the college football national championship game played in Miami. It was the 13th NCAA title for the Crimson Tide dating back to 1961.
(Obituary) January 8, 2021 – Red Wilson, who was a high school and college football coach, dies at the age of 95. Wilson began his coaching career as a high school football coach at several different school. His most successful stop was at Winston-Salem’s R.J. Reynolds High School where he won two high school football state championships at in 1958 and 1964. From 1967-76, he coached at NAIA Elon College, posting a 74-32-2. Elon won six Carolinas Conferences titles and was the NAIA national runner-up in 1973. He was also the head coach at Duke University from 1979-1982 and had back-to-back winning seasons in 1981 and 1982. Wilson was inducted to the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 1985.
(Obituary) January 7, 2021 – Lonnie Perrin, a running back in the NFL for four seasons, dies at the age of 68. Perrin played college football at Illinois and was selected in the fifth round of the 1976 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos. He played in Denver from 1976-1978. Perrin and the Broncos played in Super Bowl XII but lost to the Dallas Cowboys 27-10. He finished his brief playing career with the Chicago Bears and the Washington Redskins in 1979.
(Obituary) January 5, 2021 – Eldon “The Phantom” Fortie, a tailback in college, dies at the age of 79. Fortie played college football at BYU and was named the Western Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year in 1962. His jersey number (40) was the first to ever be retired by the school. In 1963, Fortie spent one season in the Canadian Football League with the Edmonton Eskimos. He was inducted into the BYU Athletic Hall of Fame in 1977.
(Obituary) January 3, 2021 – Michael Mayock, a high school football coach and teacher, dies at the age of 86. Mayok played college football at Villanova and was selected in the 24th round of the 1955 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers, However, he turned down playing for the Steelers in order to become a teacher and football coach. He spent 26 years teaching math, Latin, history and literature at the Haverford School, an all-boys college prep school near Philadelphia. He also coached the school’s football team. Mayock retired as a teacher in 1996 and is a member of the school’s athletic hall of fame.
(Obituary) January 2, 2021 – Don Salls, who played running back and defensive back in college as well as a head coach, dies at the age of 101. Salls played college football at Alabama and won a national championship with the team in 1941. He was also captain of the 1942 team. He then joined the Army and served in World War II in France, receiving a Purple Heat for injuries he sustained during combat. He returned to Alabama to get a Doctorate degree in Education. Salls then went into coaching. He coached football at FCS Jacksonville State from 1946-1964. He posted a record of 95-57-11 at JSU, winning three conference championships. He was the winningest football coach in school history. Jacksonville State named its athletic dormitory in his honor in 1966. Salls was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 1992.
(Obituary) January 1, 2021 – Floyd Little, who was a running back in the AFL and the NFL for nine seasons, dies of cancer at the age of 78. Little played college football at Syracuse. He was one of three great running backs to play for the school and all three wore the number 44. The others were NFL Hall of Famer Jim Brown and Heisman Trophy winner Ernie Davis. Little was the sixth overall pick in the 1967 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos. He played his entire career in Denver from 1967-1975. He led the NFL in rushing in 1971 with 1,133 yards. Little was also named the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame Pro Athlete of the Year in 1972. The number he wore in Denver (44) is one of just three that have been retired by the team. Little was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1983, the Broncos Ring of Fame in 1984 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010.