2017 was a hard year for former NFL football personnel. There were a total of 115 NFL players, coaches, and administrators who passed away in 2017. Some were famous, some were guys you may have never heard of, but they all played the country’s toughest sport and helped advance it further making it what it is today.
We are going to look at a few key NFL personalities who passed away last year and what their impact was on the league. Some of these guys were former players while others were coaches or even owners.
Let’s see what kind of impact they had on the league during their careers in the NFL.
Joe Fortunato-LB-87-Bears-Most any fan of football, especially the Chicago Bears, knows who Fortunato was. He was a linebacker for the Chicago Bears back in the 1950’s and 60’s. He helped define the linebacker position and helped the Bears have one of the most feared defenses during the time that he played. Fortunato passed away on November 6th.
Terry Glenn-WR-43-Glenn was a former NFL wide receiver who had played with three NFL teams including the New England Patriots, the Green Bay Packers and the Dallas Cowboys. He was a mainstay on those teams becoming a reliable receiver. His claim to fame was being the first to ever catch a touchdown pass from Tom Brady in the NFL. Glenn was one of the more popular players in the league when he played and one that a lot of younger NFL fans should remember.
Aaron Hernandez-TE-27-Everyone knows what happened to Aaron Hernandez but his death is worth mentioning. The former New England Patriots star was convicted of murder and served time in prison. His trial and conviction were broadcast all over by the media and his sentencing became a hot-button topic among NFL fans. But what wasn’t known, until after his death, was that he suffered from CTE. Hernandez’ may have helped us get a better understanding of what CTE can do to a football player especially one as young as he was.
Michael Jackson-WR-48-I remember Jackson well from his days with the Cleveland Browns. This former college teammate of Green Bay Packer great Brett Favre was drafted by and played for the Cleveland Browns. One of the interesting things Jackson is known for is changing his name during his career from Jackson to Dyson. He may have been the pioneer for name changes (like Chad Ochocinco). He was a steady and consistent player during his career.
Cortez Kennedy-DT-48-Kennedy is one of the most recognized names on this list. He was one of the best players in the history of the Seattle Seahawks. Kennedy was the third pick overall in the 1990 NFL Draft, was named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year in 1992 and received many other honors and accolades for his performance on the field. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012 being just the second Seahawk to make it into the Hall.
Ron Meyer-Coach-76-Anyone who watched the NFL back in the 1980’s will remember Meyer as the head coach of the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts. In the NFL, he may be remembered most for calling a timeout and having a snowplow operator clear a space on the football field of snow to allow his kicker to kick the game-winning field goal in a 3-0 win. Meyer won the AFC Coach of the Year for both teams one time. He had a stint in the Canadian Football League and even coached the Chicago Enforcers of the XFL.
Ara Parseghian-HB-94-Parseghian should be a familiar name to many football fans as he had a remarkable football career almost exclusively as a coach. He was drafted by both the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cleveland Browns and he decided to play for the Browns. Just two years into playing for Cleveland he was seriously injured and could not play football again. Parseghian ended up being one of the most famous coaches in the history of college football as he was the coach for Notre Dame leading them to some championship seasons.
Dan Rooney-Owner-84-Rooney was the beloved owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers when he passed away in 2017. He was a bit of an athlete himself in high school as he played quarterback and even coached an elementary, high school team. Small beginnings for one of the biggest personalities in the NFL. Rooney helped hire famous Steeler’s coach Chuck Noll and went on to run a majority of the Steeler’s operations. He had to endure the whole mess in fighting with his brothers to try to gain control over the team. Rooney was also the US Ambassador to Ireland under the Obama Administration.
Quentin Moses-DE-33-Moses was one of the youngest NFL players to pass away during 2017. He was a college star for the Georgia Bulldogs and then was drafted by the then Oakland Raiders with the first pick in the third round but was cut before the start of the season. He tried out in Arizona and Miami but didn’t catch on in the NFL, so he called it a career. This explosive college athlete left football and went into coaching at Reinhardt University. He died battling a house fire in February of 2017.
Max Runager-P-61-Anyone who was a fan of football in the 80’s will recall former punter Max Runager. Runager played with three teams during his time in the NFL. They were the Philadelphia Eagles, the San Francisco 49ers and the Cleveland Browns. He had the honor of punting in two Super Bowls, one with the Eagles and the other with the 49ers.
Y.A. Tittle-QB-90-Tittle is perhaps one of the most famous football players of all time. He was the sixth overall selection in the 1948 NFL Draft but instead of going to Detroit, he went to play with the Baltimore Colts in the All-American Football Conference. He immediately shined and went on to be the conferences’ Rookie of the Year. When the AAFC folded into the NFL, Tittle went to San Francisco to play with the 49ers.
He has the honor of being the first pro football player to be featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Tittle had great stats, was part of several All-Pro teams and made a name for himself. He ended his career with the New York Giants. He did very well during the 1961 season bringing the Giants all the way to the NFL Championship. Unfortunately, they would lose to the Green Bay Packers. He did it again, but his Giants lost to the Chicago Bears. Tittle proved that you could play a long time and into older age and still be successful. He retired at the age 39.