NFL Star, Actor Bubba Smith Dead at 66

Michigan State legend remembered as gentle giant
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 4, 2011 5:28 AM CDT
Bubba Smith Dead: NFL Star Remember as Gentle Giant
In this December 1967 file photo, Baltimore Colts defensive tackle Bubba Smith walks on a football field.   (AP Photo/File)

(Newser) – Towering former NFL star Bubba Smith has been found dead at his Los Angeles home. The 66-year-old defensive end, who won the Super Bowl with the Baltimore Colts in 1971, forged a successful acting career after his playing days ended, appearing in dozens of TV shows and movies including the Police Academy series, the AP reports. The 6-foot-7 player struck fear into opposing teams as fans chanted "Kill, Bubba, Kill," but teammates remember him as a gentle giant.

"He was simply a good guy," says Robert Viney, a teammate from Smith's sensational career at Michigan State. "His size made him an intimidating figure, but he was a real gentleman. He was a helluva player." Smith said his father—who coached the Texas high school football team on which he played—taught him to be philosophical about his sporting prowess. "He taught us to be humble off the field,” Smith told the New York Times in 1969. “Inside, I’ve got to feel I’m the best, but if I tell you I’m the best, then I’m a fool." (Read more Bubba Smith stories.)

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