Thursday, August 04, 2011

Bubba Smith

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Former NFL star Bubba Smith, who went from feared defensive end on the field to endearing giant in his successful second career as an actor, died Wednesday. He was 66.

Los Angeles County coroner's spokesman Ed Winter said Smith was found dead at his Baldwin Hills home. Winter said he didn't know the circumstances or cause of death.

Police spokesman Richard French added the death does not appear to be suspicious.

The top overall pick in the 1967 draft after a sensational career at Michigan State, the 6-foot-7 Smith spent five seasons with the Baltimore Colts and two seasons each with Oakland and Houston. He won the 1971 Super Bowl with the Colts.

"I'm saddened by it. I remember my first training camp in 1972 in Golden, Colo. I spent a lot of time with him there. He was a great guy. He was a giant, the biggest player on the field," Colts owner Jim Irsay said.

One of the best pass rushers in the game, Smith often drew two blockers, yet was effective enough to make two Pro Bowls and one All-Pro team. His best work, though, came in college, and Smith was enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame in 1988.

"He was simply a good guy," former Michigan State teammate Robert Viney said in a statement released through the university. "His size made him an intimidating figure, but he was a real gentleman. He was a helluva player."

As an actor his most memorable role was playing Moses Hightower, the soft-spoken officer in the "Police Academy" series. He also appeared in such television series as "Good Times," ''Charlie's Angels," and "Half Nelson," and was a regular in the ground-breaking Miller Lite commercials featuring retired players.

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