View Full Version : Bubba Smith dead at 66

08-03-2011, 09:57 PM

Bubba Smith, an outsize presence in the National Football League who went on to a prolific career in television and the movies, was found dead on Wednesday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 66.

The cause was not yet known, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County coroner’s office said, adding, “There is no indication of anything other than natural death.”

A 6-foot-7 (or possibly 6-8), nearly 300-pound behemoth of a man, Smith, a defensive lineman, was the No. 1 draft pick for the Baltimore Colts in 1967. He spent nine seasons in the N.F.L., playing on two Pro Bowl teams, in 1970 and 1971. In 1971 he helped propel the Colts to a 16-13 victory over the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl V.

Traded to the Oakland Raiders before the start of the 1972 season, Smith played two seasons with them before winding up his career with the Houston Oilers. He retired after the 1976 season.

Afterward, Smith made a career of playing rather large men on film and television. He was best known for his role as Moses Hightower, the mild-mannered florist-turned-lawman in the film comedy “Police Academy” (1984) and many of its sequels.

He starred in the short-lived TV crime series “Blue Thunder” (1984) and had roles on many other shows, including “Good Times,” “Charlie’s Angels,” “Semi-Tough,” “Hart to Hart,” “Married With Children” and “Family Matters.”

He was also seen in a well-known series of Miller Lite commercials — “Tastes Great; Less Filling” — in the 1970s and ’80s.

Charles Aaron Smith, known since childhood as Bubba, was born in Beaumont, Tex., on Feb. 28, 1945. His father coached the high school football team on which he played; the elder man’s techniques, Bubba Smith told The New York Times in 1971, included whacking his son with a board he took to the field for that purpose. What redeemed these episodes, the son said, was that “he didn’t holler.”

Smith played defensive end at Michigan State, where his size and prowess gave rise to the chant “Kill, Bubba, Kill,” which emanated frequently from the stands. He was named an all-American in 1965 and 1966.

As a senior, Smith took part in what came to be called the “game of the century” — one of several games so designated in the annals of college football — played at home against Notre Dame on Nov. 19, 1966. Smith sacked and knocked out Notre Dame quarterback Terry Hanratty in the first quarter, and the game ended in a 10-10 tie.

Smith was the author, with Hal DeWindt, of the book “Kill, Bubba, Kill!,” published by Simon & Schuster in 1983. In it, Smith intimated that Super Bowl III — in which his highly favored Colts lost to the upstart Jets under Joe Namath — was fixed, although he supplied no evidence. Smith’s assertion drew fire in the news media.

Information on Smith’s survivors was not available. (His brother Tody played for the Dallas Cowboys, the Oilers and the Buffalo Bills.)

Smith was named to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1988. Michigan State retired his number, 95, in 2006.

For all his acclaim, Smith, drawing on the teachings of his father, was philosophical about his abilities.

“He taught us to be humble off the field,” Smith told The 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.”

Sarah Maslin Nir contributed reporting.

08-03-2011, 11:21 PM
Sad. 66 is way to young. RIP Bubba.

08-03-2011, 11:21 PM
RIP Bubba. :Beer


08-04-2011, 08:36 AM
This will be held up as another example of what the NFL does to players by cutting their lives short in court cases.

08-04-2011, 03:38 PM
Appreciating Bubba Smith’s place in football history

Posted by Michael David Smith on August 4, 2011


Bubba Smith, the former NFL defensive lineman who died this week at the age of 66, was a very good professional football player who made two Pro Bowls and won a Super Bowl ring. But he was a great college football player, and also a greatly influential college football player.

It’s Smith’s influence on the game of college football that is explored in the HBO documentary Breaking the Huddle: The Integration of College Football, which HBO is re-airing on Monday at 7 p.m.

Smith grew up in Texas and was widely acclaimed as a dominant high school football player, but the major colleges in Texas wouldn’t offer him a scholarship because he was black.

“I just wanted to go to Texas,” Smith says in Breaking the Huddle. “I called Darrell Royal and asked, ‘Coach, can I come to the University of Texas?’ He said, ‘Uh, Bubba, I could probably get you a scholarship . . . but I don’t know when the football program is gonna integrate.’”

Segregation in the South forced Smith to choose Michigan State, where he became an All-American, and great African-American players like Smith eventually made Southern schools realize they couldn’t compete on the highest levels of college football unless they integrated. That may be Smith’s most important legacy.

http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/20 ... l-history/ (http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2011/08/04/appreciating-bubba-smiths-place-in-football-history/)