Professional football hall of fame Fred Dean died late Wednesday night. He was 68 years old.
“The entire Pro Football Hall of Fame family is mourning the death of Fred Dean,” said David Baker, president and CEO of the Hall of Fame. “He has shown many of the values he has learned from this great game – commitment, integrity, courage – throughout his life. Our thoughts and prayers are with Fred’s wife, Pam and their entire family. We will forever keep his legacy alive to serve as an inspiration for future generations. “
After a remarkable collegial career as a linebacker for Louisiana Tech, Dean entered the NFL as the second round of then-chargers in San Diego in 1
Dean played for the Chargers until 1981, when he joined the San Francisco 49ers through a second-round selection trade. Known for his combination of speed and power, Dean made an immediate strike for the Niners, collecting 11 sacks (unofficially, as the sacks did not become official statistics until 1982) in 11 games and winning an All-Pro nod as the Niners won the Super Bowl XVI .
Two years later, Dean had his best season in the NFL, finishing with 17.5 sacks, the most in the NFC. That included a record of six NFL games against the New Orleans Saints when he won his fourth and final Pro Bowl.
In 1985, Dean and Niners won another championship, defeating the Miami Dolphins in the Super Bowl XIX.
“I might think he was born from chargers, but I have a renewed life with 49,” Dean said in a speech at the Hall of Fame. “And when I was with the 49ers, I found that on the other side of this bridge, on the other side is my rainbow, the real end of the rainbow. Not financially, but with all the people there.”
Dean retired after the 1985 season after playing 141 games in 11 seasons. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on August 2, 2008. Former Niners owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr. introduced Dean to the intervention and often called him one of the missing figures that put the 49ers on top.
“While it can’t be said that Fred Dean’s greatness as an NFL player began when he came to the 49ers in 1981, I can say as a team owner that the 49ers’ greatness began with the arrival of Fred Dean in San Francisco, ”DeBartolo said then.
Dean was born on February 24, 1952 in Arcadia, Louisiana and attended Ruston High before arriving at Louisiana Tech. He was a four-time All-Southland Conference selection for the Bulldogs, which won the Division II National Championship in 1973, and four consecutive Southland Conference titles with Dean, who had 392 career fights. He was inducted into the National Football Foundation’s Hall of Fame in 2009 and the Louisiana Tech Athletic Hall of Fame in 1990.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.