Aug 16, 2020; Jacksonville, Florida, United States;  Jacksonville Jaguars corner back D.J. Hayden (25) walks down the field  during training camp drills at the Dream Finders Homes training facility. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Former NFL CB D.J. Hayden among 6 dead in car accident

Former NFL cornerback D.J. Hayden was among six people killed in Houston early Saturday morning after a car sped through a red light and caused a collision with another vehicle. He was 33.

Per Houston police, four people were pronounced dead at the scene and two more perished after being taken to a local hospital. Police noted that five males — including former University of Houston cornerback Zach McMillian, Hayden’s teammate — and one female were among the fatalities.

A two-time All-Conference USA honoree with Houston, Hayden made national headlines after a collision in practice caused a tear in his heart. He was discharged from the hospital a week later and was selected by the then-Oakland Raiders with the 12th overall pick of the 2013 NFL Draft.

Hayden recorded 328 tackles, 4.5 sacks, four interceptions and four forced fumbles in 92 career games (41 starts) with the Raiders (2013-16), Detroit Lions (2017), Jacksonville Jaguars (2018-20) and Washington Commanders (2021).

–Field Level Media

Feb 1, 2020; Miami, Florida, USA; Gil Brandt arrives on the red carpet during the NFL Honors awards presentation at Adrienne Arsht Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Hall of Famer Gil Brandt, co-architect of Cowboys as ‘America’s Team,’ dies at 91

Pro Football Hall of Famer, NFL scouting innovator and former Dallas Cowboys vice president of player personnel Gil Brandt died Thursday. He was 91.

Brandt joined the Cowboys for their inaugural season in 1960 and became one of the preeminent talent evaluators of his era while helping the club to a pair of Super Bowl titles in the 1970s. He spent 28 years with Dallas before being fired by new owner and general manager Jerry Jones in May 1989.

Under Brandt — as well as long-time head coach Tom Landry and general manager Tex Schramm — the Cowboys made five Super Bowl appearances.

Brandt was named to the Cowboys’ Ring of Honor in 2018 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2019, with Jones presenting him at his induction for the latter honor.

“We are so deeply saddened by the passing of Gil Brandt — a true icon and pioneer of our sport,” Jones said. “Gil was at the very core of the early success of the Dallas Cowboys and continued to serve as a great ambassador for the organization for decades beyond that. His contributions cemented his spot in the Ring of Honor. He was my friend and a mentor not only to me, but to countless executives, coaches, players and broadcasters across the National Football League, which rightfully earned him a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame where his legacy will be celebrated forever.

“He was an innovator and set the standard for excellence in player acquisition. From the creation of the NFL Combine to revolutionizing the NFL Draft, Gil finished his over six-decade NFL career with an eye towards the future of the league and teaching fans about the sport he loved as a radio broadcaster. Gil was as good a storyteller as it gets, with a memory as sharp as a tack. His dedication to, and passion for, this game left a lasting impact on generations of Hall of Fame players and coaches. There are very few people that have been able to have the kind of generational impact that he did. Gil was as dedicated to growing this league and sport as anyone ever was, and we are all grateful and better for it. Our hearts go out to Gil’s wife, Sara, his son Hunter and all of Gil’s family and friends.”

Brandt spent several years working with the NFL, including an active role at the Scouting Combine and in the pre-draft preparation process, and was a prominent fixture at the Indianapolis-based event for multiple decades after leaving his job with the Cowboys.

“You can’t tell the story about the success of the Dallas Cowboys and their two-decade run of winning seasons from the mid-1960s to mid-1980s without mentioning Gil Brandt,” said Jim Porter, president of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

“His innovative approach to scouting and player evaluation helped the organization find players others overlooked. The result was discovering future Cowboys from smaller colleges, or even off college basketball or track teams. He is credited with advancing the use of computers in the front office of pro football teams, but the real computer was the one in his own head, where he stored an incredible amount of information that he loved to share with anyone who appreciated the game like he did.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 16, 2022; Houston, Texas, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers former running back and Pro Football Hall of Famer Franco Harris prior to the game between the Houston Astros and the Oakland Athletics at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

Hall of Fame RB Franco Harris dies at 72

Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Franco Harris, who won four Super Bowls with the Pittsburgh Steelers and was on the receiving end of the “Immaculate Reception,” died on Tuesday. He was 72.

Harris’ death came two days before the 50th anniversary of the famous play, which was selected as the greatest moment in league history as part of the NFL 100 celebration in 2019.

Harris’ family confirmed his passing to KDKA in Pittsburgh. No cause of death has been reported.

The Steelers were scheduled to retire the No. 32 worn by Harris during Saturday’s game against the visiting Las Vegas Raiders.

The team has retired just two numbers, those of Joe Greene (75) and Ernie Stautner (70).

“The entire team at the Pro Football Hall of Fame is immensely saddened today,” Pro Football Hall of Fame president Jim Porter said in a statement. “We have lost an incredible football player, an incredible ambassador to the Hall, and most importantly, we have lost one of the finest gentlemen anyone will ever meet. Franco not only impacted the game of football, but he also affected the lives of many, many people in profoundly positive ways.

“The Hall of Fame and historians everywhere will tell Franco’s football story forever. His life story can never be told fully, however, without including his greatness off the field.”

The Immaculate Reception occurred Dec. 23, 1972, in a playoff game in Pittsburgh between the Steelers and then-Oakland Raiders. With the Steelers down 7-6 with 22 seconds to play and fourth-and-10 at their own 40-yard line, quarterback Terry Bradshaw scrambled, then threw a pass intended for John “Frenchy” Fuqua. After bouncing off Raiders safety Jack Tatum, the ball wound up in the hands of Harris, a 22-year-old rookie who ran it into the end zone for the game-winning, 60-yard score.

“That play really represents our teams of the ’70s,” Harris said after the Immaculate Reception was voted the greatest play in NFL history.

Tributes to Harris poured in on social media Wednesday morning.

“Franco Harris was so much more than just one play,” ESPN’s Mike Greenberg tweeted. “He was one of the great backs of his time, or any time, and the heartbeat of the offense of those legendary #Steelers teams. He was also as classy a gentleman as you could ever hope to meet. RIP Franco, thanks for the memories.”

Pennsylvania state Sen. Jay Costa offered his tribute.

“Franco’s legacy in our community will be forever one of joy, victory, and pride in the Steel City,” Costa tweeted. “Rest well, my friend.”

And from former NFL head coach Tony Dungy:

“Woke up this morning to the devastating news that my friend Franco Harris passed away during the night. One of the kindest, gentlest men I have ever known,” Dungy said. “He was a great person & great teammate. Hall of Fame player but so much more than that. A tremendous role model for me!”

Harris was selected to nine Pro Bowls and was the MVP of Super Bowl IX during his career with the Steelers (1972-83) and Seattle Seahawks (1984). He gained 14,407 yards from scrimmage and scored 100 touchdowns in 173 games (162 starts).

–Field Level Media

Mark Pike and Darryl Talley celebrate with Jamie Mueller after Mueller's game-winning TD reception against the Jets on Oct. 21, 1990.

Buffalo Bills

Former Bills player Mark Pike dies at 57

Former Buffalo Bills special teams player Mark Pike died Wednesday following a battle with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He was 57.

Pike, who played both defensive end and linebacker, competed in 173 career games (one start) with the Bills. He recorded 41 tackles, one sack and one fumble recovery since being selected by Buffalo in the seventh round of the 1986 NFL Draft.

“He was a big man who played special teams which was a matchup nightmare for our opponents,” former teammate Steve Tasker said. “He was a unique specimen. His ability to run and play special teams with his versatility was unbelievable.”

Pike recently attended the Bills’ home game against the Houston Texans on Oct. 3. He served as the club’s Crucial Catch honoree, which is the NFL’s program to fight cancer through early detection and risk reduction.

Pike is survived by his wife, Sharon, their two sons, Ezekiel and Malachi, and their daughter, Kramer.

–Field Level Media

Aug 4, 2018; Canton, OH, USA; Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles former defensive end Claude Humphrey acknowledges the crowd during the Pro Football Hall of Fame Grand Parade on Cleveland Avenue. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Pro Football Hall of Fame DE Claude Humphrey dies

Former NFL defensive end Claude Humphrey died at the age of 77, the Pro Football Hall of Fame announced Saturday.

The organization did not reveal a cause of death for Humphrey, who passed away Friday, only that it was informed by a family member.

Humphrey was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the Class of 2014. He recorded 130 sacks during his 13-year career with the Atlanta Falcons (1968-78) and Philadelphia Eagles (1979-81).

“The entire Pro Football Hall of Fame family mourns the passing of Claude Humphrey,” Hall of Fame president Jim Porter said in a statement. “Known as a hard worker and a reliable teammate, Humphrey was always willing to help the team out wherever needed and knew success was achieved collectively. His humble spirit guided him on and off the field.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Claude’s family during this difficult time. The Hall of Fame will forever guard his legacy. The Hall of Fame flag will be flown at half-staff in Claude’s memory.”

The Falcons selected Humphrey with the third overall pick in the 1968 draft out of Tennessee State. He went on to win NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors as well as earn six Pro Bowl selections.

“So Sad to hear of the passing of my Teammate and Friend, Claude (Humphrey). Rest in Peace,” fellow Hall of Famer and former Eagles wide receiver Harold Carmichael wrote on Twitter.

–Field Level Media

FSU's former Head Coach Bobby Bowden acknowledges the fans during the Garnet and Gold Spring game at Doak Campbell Stadium on Saturday, April 14, 2018.

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Hall of Fame coach Bobby Bowden dies at 91

Legendary former Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden has died, the school announced Sunday morning. He was 91.

Bowden was diagnosed with a terminal medical condition last month. The Hall of Fame coach did not reveal specifics at the time, although his son Terry later told reporters that it was pancreatic cancer.

“I’ve always tried to serve God’s purpose for my life, on and off the field, and I am prepared for what is to come,” Bowden said in a statement announcing the condition. “My wife Ann and our family have been life’s greatest blessing. I am at peace.”

Bowden tested positive for COVID-19 in October and also was hospitalized in June for five days.

“Florida State University has lost a legend in the passing of Bobby Bowden,” university president John Thrasher said in a statement. “On behalf of everyone at FSU, Jean and I extend our deepest condolences to Ann and the Bowden family.

“Coach Bowden built a football dynasty and raised the national profile of Florida State University, and he did it with class and a sense of humor. While he leaves an incredible legacy as one of the best football coaches in collegiate history, he also will be remembered for his great faith, his love of family and his mentorship of countless young people. He will be profoundly missed.”

Current Seminoles coach Mike Norvell also honored Bowden for his qualities as a man, not just as a great football coach.

“Coach Bowden was one of the greatest coaches ever, but more than that he was an incredible man,” Norvell said in a statement. “He was a special human being who earned an enduring legacy because of his wonderful heart, faith and values he lived. It was the honor of my lifetime to know him and beyond anything I could dream to have a relationship with him.”

Former Florida coach Urban Meyer, one of Bowden’s coaching rivals, shared his condolences over social media.

“Today, we lost a legend. Bobby was a great friend and mentor to me, and his impact transcended the coaching profession in so many ways,” Meyer wrote on Twitter. “Sending love to Ann and the entire Bowden family. Rest In Peace Coach Bowden.”

Bowden served as the coach at West Virginia from 1970-75 before joining the Florida State program in 1976. He posted a 315-98-4 record with the Seminoles and guided the school to two national titles (1993, 1999) and 12 ACC championships (1992-2000, 2002-03, 2005).

Bowden was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2006.

–Field Level Media

Aug 1, 2019; Canton, OH, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterbacks coach Greg Knapp reacts  during the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game against the Denver Broncos at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Jets assistant Greg Knapp dies from bike accident injuries

Longtime NFL assistant coach Greg Knapp died Thursday from injuries he sustained in a bike accident last weekend. He was 58 years old.

Knapp’s agent Jeff Sperbeck and his friend, Chicago Bears assistant coach Clancy Barone, delivered the news.

Knapp was biking near his home in Danville, Calif., on Saturday afternoon when he was struck by a vehicle at a busy intersection. He suffered major head and body injuries and never regained consciousness.

He died at the John Muir Health Medical Center in Walnut Creek, Calif.

“We’ll miss him,” Barone told the Sacramento Bee. “Knapper was so sincere in everything he did. … I know Knapper. He wouldn’t want any of us to feel sorry for him, to slow down. He’d demand that we continue, that we live life and that when you go out to dinner, order the most expensive steak and the best bottle of wine because that’s the Knapper charm and life is good.”

Knapp was preparing to report to his first training camp with the New York Jets as their passing game coordinator.

Knapp was a member of the Denver Broncos’ coaching staff in 2015 when Peyton Manning guided the franchise to a Super Bowl victory.

Knapp has also worked for the Texans, 49ers, Falcons, Seahawks and Raiders in a 25-year NFL career that stretches back to 1997.

–Field Level Media

Jan 2, 2020; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; NFL former running back Floyd Little is honored prior to the game between the Tennessee Volunteers and the Indiana Hoosiers at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Hall of Fame Broncos RB Little dies at 78

Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Floyd Little died on Friday night at the age of 78.

Little, who starred at Syracuse then played nine seasons with the Denver Broncos, reportedly had been battling a rare form of cell cancer.

“Floyd Little was a true hero of the game. He was a man of great integrity, passion and courage. His contributions off the field were even greater than his amazing accomplishments he did on it. Floyd’s smile, heart and character epitomized what it meant to have a Hall of Fame life,” Hall of Fame President and CEO David Baker said in a statement.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Floyd’s wife, DeBorah, and their entire family. We will forever keep his legacy alive to serve as inspiration for future generations. The Hall of Fame flag will be flown at half-staff in Floyd’s memory.”

His former college teammate, Patrick Killorin, publicly revealed in May that Little had been diagnosed with cancer. He organized a GoFundMe drive for Little and had kept fans updated about the former running back’s condition.

Little was a three-time All-American at Syracuse and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, in 2010. He also is enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame.

“Floyd Little is a Syracuse treasure,” Syracuse athletic director John Wildhack said. “The legacy that he leaves here is so much more than just one who wore No. 44, was an All-American, was in the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

“Floyd’s legacy is that he was a wonderful, wonderful person. He treated everyone with genuine care and respect and was always there for people. His impact as a person is those that he impacted. He was always willing to share his time, his wisdom, his support. … It is a legacy that will last forever and will never be replaced. He is someone who leaves a legacy of pure class in every single respect. There was only one Floyd Little and there will never be another one like him.”

Little played for the Broncos from 1967-75 and was a five-time Pro Bowl selection and first-team All-Pro in 1969. In 1971, when the NFL played 14-game seasons, he led the league with 284 rushes and 1,133 yards, as well as 1,388 yards from scrimmage.

In 117 career games, he gained 8,741 yards from scrimmage and scored 52 touchdowns.

In three seasons at Syracuse (1964-66), he ran for 2,750 yards and 35 touchdowns. He also had 591 receiving yards and four more TDs.

The Broncos selected him No. 6 overall in the 1967 draft.

–Field Level Media

Aug 17, 2017; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Baltimore Ravens running back Lorenzo Taliaferro (34) warms up before a game against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Former Ravens RB Taliaferro dies at 28

Former Baltimore Ravens running back Lorenzo Taliaferro has died at age 28, the team announced Thursday.

Taliaferro passed away in his hometown of Williamsburg, Va. A family member told WBFF-TV in Baltimore that Taliaferro died of a heart attack.

“We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Lorenzo Taliaferro,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said in a statement. “Lorenzo was a kind, smart, respectful and determined young man — someone always committed to his teammates and well-liked by everyone in our organization. We extend our heartfelt condolences to Lorenzo’s family.

“May he rest in peace.”

Taliaferro had 82 carries for 339 yards and five touchdowns in 19 career games over three seasons with the Ravens (2014-16). He was selected by Baltimore in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft out of Coastal Carolina, where he recorded 27 touchdowns and was named the Big South Offensive Player of the Year.

Taliaferro was waived before the start of the 2017 season.

–Field Level Media

Aug 8, 2019; Green Bay, WI, USA; The NFL logo on goal post padding prior to the game between the Houston Texans and Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Pro Football Hall of Fame CB Adderley dies

Pro Football Hall of Fame cornerback Herb Adderley, who played in four of the first six Super Bowls, passed away Friday at the age of 81.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced Adderley’s passing, but did not divulge a cause of death.

Adderley returned an interception 60 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter to help the Green Bay Packers post a 33-14 victory over the then-Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl II.

“The entire Pro Football Hall of Fame family mourns the passing of Herb Adderley,” Pro Football Hall of Fame President and CEO David Baker said. “He was a great player and an even greater man. Herb left an indelible mark on the Game and was respected tremendously by players and personnel across the league.”

A five-time Pro Bowl selection and four-time All-Pro, Adderley was selected by the Packers with a first-round pick in the 1961 NFL Draft out of Michigan State.

Although he began his career at running back, Adderley was shuffled to cornerback by coach Vince Lombardi after Green Bay’s Hank Gremminger was injured during a Thanksgiving Day game against Detroit.

Adderley played for the Packers in both Super Bowls I and II and suited up for the club through 1969 before being traded to the Dallas Cowboys, with whom he played in Super Bowls V and VI.

He elected to retire after the Cowboys traded him to the Rams. He was chosen to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1980.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Herb’s wife, Brenda, and their entire family. We will forever keep his legacy alive to serve as inspiration for future generations,” Baker said. “The Hall of Fame flag will be flown at half-staff in Herb’s memory.”

–Field Level Media