Thursday, August 4, 2011

Remembering Bubba Smith, the Football Player

A few thoughts about Bubba Smith, who died yesterday at 66. He may be best remembered today as an actor and television pitchman. But he made his name on the football field, first at Michigan State, then as a Baltimore Colt. Andy Barall writes about pro football history for The Fifth Down.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, there wasn't a more imposing sight in football than Charles Aaron Smith, better known as Bubba. Before a terrible knee injury in 1972, Smith was one of the N.F.L.'s best all-around 4-3 defensive ends. When he wanted to, he could dominate.

Smith was a two-time all-American for the powerhouse Michigan State teams of the mid-60s. The Baltimore Colts, with a pick acquired in a trade with the expansion New Orleans Saints, made him the first overall selection of the 1967 draft. Three of his college teammates, Clint Jones, George Webster and Gene Washington, were also among the first eight picks that year.

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