Former NFL defensive end and longtime television and movie actor Charles Aaron "Bubba" Smith was found dead in his Los Angeles home on Wednesday. Coroner's reports have not yet been released, but according to the Los Angeles Times, it is believed that Smith died of natural causes.
Smith attended Michigan State, where he was one of the most dominant collegiate defensive linemen of all time. He won All-America honors in 1965 and 1966, and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1988.
Selected first overall in the 1967 NFL draft by the Baltimore Colts, Smith soon became, along with Deacon Jones, one of the first truly modern-style pass-rushers and sack artists. He played long before sacks were first tabulated as an official NFL statistic in 1982, but he was known from the start of his professional career to be nearly impossible to block.
He played for three teams — the Colts, Oakland Raiders and Houston Oilers, appeared in two Pro Bowls and was named First-Team All-Pro in 1971. Smith played in two Super Bowls — Super Bowl III, which the Colts lost to the New York Jets in an enormous upset, and Super Bowl V, which the Colts won with a last-second field goal against the Dallas Cowboys. Smith retired after the 1976 season, having played in 111 regular-season games.
After his football career ended, Smith became perhaps even more well-known as an actor. He struck gold in the "Police Academy" series of movies, playing the hyper-strong Moses Hightower and providing a series of riotous slapstick scenes.
Smith was also a very successful pitchman for Lite beer.
We always liked the easy-opening can, too. Godspeed, Mr. Smith.
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