‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund – January 2nd. Aged 76.
Okerlund was a professional wrestling announcer, host, and interviewer, that become a legendary staple of the rise of professional wrestling in the 80’s and 90’s for WCW and WWF. ‘Mean Gene’ is one of the most identifiable personalities in wrestling history, and his voice is synonymous with the often outrageous showmanship of sports entertainment. Okerlund died from complications relating his kidney disease, and had a history of alcohol abuse.
Frank Robinson – February 7th. Aged 83
The 14-time All-Star was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame after finishing with 586 home runs, two MVP’s, and a Triple Crown in 1966. Robinson would later win AL Manager of the Year with the Baltimore Orioles. Robinson died of bone cancer.
Don Newcombe – February 19th. Aged 92
The four-time All-Star for the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers became the first player in league history to win the Cy Young and MVP in the same season. He won the Rookie of the Year in 1951 and was a member of the Dodgers’ first ever World Series championship team in 1955. Newcombe died of natural causes.
Ted Lindsay – March 4th. Aged 93
Lindsay was a Hall of Fame left-winger for the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks during the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s, and was recently named one of the ‘100 Greatest NHL Players’ in history. In 2010, the NHL named its award given to the league's most outstanding player in the regular season the 'Ted Lindsay Award'. Lindsay died at his home from natural causes.
John Havlicek – April 25th. Aged 79
A linchpin of the legendary Boston Celtics teams of the 60’s and 70’s, Havlicek won 8 NBA Finals titles and went to 13 consecutive All-Star Games from 1966 to 1978. Havlicek ended his career averaging 20.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 4.8 assists, and was named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996. Havlicek would die from Parkinson’s disease.
Harold Lederman – May 11th. Aged 79
The iconic boxing judge and analyst was the face of HBO’s boxing coverage from the 80’s all the way into the 2010’s. Lederman was widely known for his role reading off his own unofficial scorecard to host Jim Lampley on air between rounds during PPV bouts. Lederman passed away from cancer.
Bart Starr – May 26th. Aged 85
The legendary Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame quarterback died at the age of 85 after a long period of deteriorating health. Starr was a 2-time Super Bowl champion and two-time Super Bowl MVP, won 5 NFL Championships in the 60’s before the merger, and led the NFL in passer rating five times.
Bill Buckner – May 27th. Aged 69
Despite being one of the most infamous athletes in sports history for his part in the iconic 1986 World Series where he let a ball go between his legs to allow the Mets to capture Game 6 versus the Red Sox, people forget Bucker finished his career with 2,715 hits and won the NL batting crown in 19080 with the Cubs. Bucker died from Lewy body dementia.
Tyler Skaggs – July 1st. Aged 27
Skaggs' death was ruled an accident after an autopsy revealed Skaggs had choked on his own vomit and died from asphyxia as a result. Skaggs was under the influence of painkillers fentanyl and oxycodone, and had alcohol in his system as well. Skaggs was a former first round pick of the Angels in 2009 and at one time was one of the most highly prized pitching prospects in the MLB. Skaggs finished his career 28-38 with a 4.41 ERA in seven seasons.
Jared Lorenzen – July 3rd, Aged 38
The ‘Hefty Lefty’ was one of the most memorable college football players of the late 90’s for his rare athleticism and rocket arm as a 300-pounder. Lorenzen broke all of Tim Couch’s records at Kentucky, finishing his career with 10,354 passing yards and 78 touchdowns. Lorenzen threw for just 28 yards in the NFL, but did win a ring as a backup quarterback to Eli Manning on the 2008 New York Giants Super Bowl team who beat undefeated New England. Lorenzen died from an acute infection, relating to heart and kidney problems.
Pernell Whitaker – July 14th. Aged 55
One of the most recognizable boxers of the 80’s and 90’s, Whitaker won four titles as a lightweight, light welterweight, welterweight, and light middleweight, and had memorable rivalries with Oscar De La Hoya, Felix Trinidad, Julio Cesar Chavez, and Jose Luis Ramirez. Whitaker was hit by a car while crossing the street in Virginia Beach and died from his injuries.
Cedric Benson – August 17th. Aged 36
The former Texas Longhorns All-American running back died in a motorcycle accident. Benson won the Doak Walker Award in 2004, awarded to college football’s best running back. He rushed for 5,550 yards in four years at Texas before playing 8 years in the NFL. Benson had three straight 1,000-yard seasons with the Bengals from 2009-2011.
Jevan Snead –September 21st. Aged 32
Snead’s mysterious death has been speculated to be the result from suicide or drug overdose. Snead’s family suspected the former college football player suffered from CTE. Snead was most recognized for his play as the quarterback of the Ole Miss Rebels in 2008 and 2009. Snead’s Rebels won back to back Cotton Bowls, and at one time were ranked number 8 in the nation during the 2009 season.
Willie Brown – October 21st. Aged 78
The Hall of Fame cornerback won three Super Bowls with the Oakland Raiders in the late 70’s and early 80s and was recently named to the NFL’s 100th Anniversary All-Time Team. The cause of Newcombe’s death were never readily made public.
Charles Rogers – November 11th. Aged 38
The former electrifying Michigan State wide receiver died of liver cancer. Rogers spent two years at Michigan State and was one of college football’s most dominant wideouts, posting 2,821 receiving yards and 27 touchdowns in 2001 and 2002. Was an All-American in 2002 and won the Biletnikoff Award in 2002 awarded to the nation’s best WR.