Fred Dean

Last updated

Fred Dean
No. 71, 74
Position: Defensive end
Personal information
Born:(1952-02-24)February 24, 1952
Arcadia, Louisiana, United States
Died:October 14, 2020(2020-10-14) (aged 68)
Jackson, Mississippi, United States
Height:6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Weight:230 lb (104 kg)
Career information
High school: Ruston (Ruston, Louisiana)
College: Louisiana Tech
NFL Draft: 1975  / Round: 2 / Pick: 33
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Games played:141
Games started:83
Player stats at  ·  PFR

Frederick Rudolph Dean (February 24, 1952 October 14, 2020) was an American professional football player who was a defensive end in the National Football League (NFL). A two-time first-team All-Pro and a four-time Pro Bowler, he won two Super Bowls with the San Francisco 49ers. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2008.


Dean played college football for the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs and earned All-American honors as a senior. He was selected in the second round of the 1975 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers (now the Los Angeles Chargers). He was traded to San Francisco in 1981 due to a contract dispute. He is a member of both the Chargers and 49ers Hall of Fame.

Early life

Dean was born in Arcadia, the seat of Bienville Parish in north Louisiana. He grew up 20 miles (32 km) east in Ruston, where he graduated from Ruston High School. [1]

College career

Dean was a standout at Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, having spurned an opportunity to play for legendary coach Eddie Robinson at nearby Grambling State University, which at the time was sending African American players to the NFL on a yearly basis. [2] Playing mostly as an end, [3] Dean excelled as a defensive lineman for the Bulldogs and was a four-time all-conference selection and two-time conference defensive player of the year in the Southland Conference. [4] [5] He was an All-American as a senior in 1974. [5]

NFL career

San Diego Chargers

Dean was selected by the San Diego Chargers in the second round of the 1975 NFL Draft with the 33rd overall pick. Chargers coach Tommy Prothro initially projected him as a linebacker but eventually relented to Dean's wish to remain a lineman. [3] As a rookie, he had seven sacks and registered his career-high of 93 tackles. [6] He recorded 15 12 sacks in 1978. [3] In 1979, the Chargers won the AFC West division while leading the AFC in fewest points allowed (246). [7] Dean had nine sacks in 13 games and was named to the All-AFC team. [8] [9]

The Chargers again won the AFC West in 1980, with Dean teaming with fellow 1975 Charger draftees Gary "Big Hands" Johnson and Louie Kelcher as the Chargers led the NFL in sacks (60). [10] [11] Dean had missed the first two games of the season after not reporting, but still finished the season with 10 12 sacks. [12] He and Johnson were named first-team All-Pro, with Kelcher being named second-team All-Pro. The trio along with Leroy Jones formed a defensive front that was nicknamed the Bruise Brothers. [10] [11]

San Francisco 49ers

In 1981, Dean was traded to the San Francisco 49ers due to a contract dispute with Chargers' ownership. [13] He complained that he was the lowest-paid sixth-year defensive lineman in 1980 and that his salary was below the average of all defensive linemen. [14] [15] Dean contended that he was making the same amount of money as his brother-in-law who was a truck driver. [16] Originally set to make $75,000 that season, [17] the 49ers renegotiated his contract to reportedly near $150,000 a year. [18] The Chargers' defense would not be the same afterwards, and Don "Air" Coryell's Chargers teams are now most remembered for its high-scoring, pass-oriented offense that did not have enough defense to make it to a Super Bowl. In 2013, U-T San Diego called the Chargers trading Dean "perhaps the biggest blunder in franchise history". [19] "I can't say how much it affected us, because we did make it to the AFC championship game," said Johnson of the Chargers without Dean. "But I could say if we had more pass rush from the corner, it might've been different". [3]

With San Francisco, Dean was used as a pass-rush specialist, playing only when the 49ers switched from a 3–4 defense to a 4–3 or a 4–2 nickel. [17] [20] He joined the team mid-season for Game 6 against the Dallas Cowboys. [21] After only a couple of practices, he played and was still able to record two sacks and apply pressure and repeatedly hurry Danny White in a 45–14 win by the 49ers. His performance was noted by author Tom Danyluk as "the greatest set of downs I have ever seen unleashed by a pass rusher". [22] In what had been a game of possum, Bill Walsh, the 49er head coach, said to John Madden, who covered the game, "Fred (Dean) just got here... If he plays, he won't play much". [23] But he played the whole game. [24]

Two weeks later at home against the Los Angeles Rams, the 49ers won 20–17 for their first-ever win against the Rams at home in Candlestick Park, as Dean sacked Pat Haden 4 12 times. [17] Dean was named the UPI NFC Defensive Player of the Year with 12 sacks while playing in 11 games for the 49ers. [25] The 49ers went on to win Super Bowl XVI that year, and Steve Sabol (NFL Films) is quoted in 2006 as saying that Dean's acquisition was the last meaningful in-season trade, in that it affected the destination of the Lombardi Trophy. [8] San Francisco, which was 3–2 when Dean arrived, won 13 of their final 14 games, including the playoffs. [26]

In 1983, Dean recorded a career-high 17 12 sacks to lead the NFC and recorded a then-NFL record of six in one game, setting that mark during the 49ers’ 27–0 shutout of the New Orleans Saints on November 13, 1983. [27]

Dean was also a key player on the 1984 squad than won Super Bowl XIX. He was reunited with his former Charger teammates Johnson, Kelcher and Billy Shields, who were acquired by the 49ers. [13]


Dean's uniform with the San Francisco 49ers at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Pro Football Hall of Fame (24937975708).jpg
Dean's uniform with the San Francisco 49ers at the Pro Football Hall of Fame

Dean ended his NFL career with 93 unofficial sacks, according to the Professional Football Researchers Association. [28] Dean was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2008, [27] when his bust, sculpted by Scott Myers, was unveiled. [29] [30] [31] He was also named to both the Chargers' 40th and 50th anniversary teams and inducted into the Chargers Hall of Fame. [32] [33] [34]

Dean was inducted into the Louisiana Tech University Athletic Hall of Fame in 1990 and the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 1995. [4] [35] In 2009, Dean was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame. [5]

Later years

After his football career, Dean was a minister in his hometown, Ruston. [36]

On October 14, 2020, Dean died from complications from COVID-19 during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mississippi while being airlifted from a hospital in West Monroe, Louisiana to Jackson, Mississippi. [20] [37]

Related Research Articles

Bill Walsh (American football coach) American football coach

William Ernest Walsh was an American professional and college football coach. He served as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers and the Stanford Cardinal, during which time he popularized the West Coast offense. After retiring from the 49ers, Walsh worked as a sports broadcaster for several years and then returned as head coach at Stanford for three seasons.

Los Angeles Chargers National Football League franchise in Los Angeles, California

The Los Angeles Chargers are a professional American football team based in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. The Chargers compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the league's American Football Conference (AFC) West division. The Chargers play their home games at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, which the club shares with the Los Angeles Rams.

Super Bowl XXIX

Super Bowl XXIX was an American football game between the American Football Conference (AFC) champion San Diego Chargers and the National Football Conference (NFC) champion San Francisco 49ers to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion for the 1994 season. The 49ers defeated the Chargers by the score of 49–26, becoming the first team to win five Super Bowl championships. The game was played on January 29, 1995 at Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami, Florida.

Dan Fouts American football quarterback

Daniel Francis Fouts is an American former football quarterback for the San Diego Chargers of the National Football League (NFL) from 1973 to 1987. He led the NFL in passing yards four straight years from 1979 to 1982 and became the first player in history to throw for 4,000 yards in three consecutive seasons. The Chargers advanced to the AFC Championship Game twice during his career, but never reached the Super Bowl.

Charles B. Joiner Jr. is an American former professional football player who was a wide receiver in the American Football League (AFL) and National Football League (NFL) for 18 seasons. He is best known for his career with the San Diego Chargers, with whom he spent 11 seasons. Before joining the Chargers, he played for the Houston Oilers and Cincinnati Bengals each for four seasons. He retired with the most career receptions, receiving yards, and games played of any wide receiver in NFL history. Joiner was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1996.

Chris Doleman American football player

Christopher John Doleman was an American professional football player who was a defensive end in the National Football League (NFL). He spent the majority of his career with the Minnesota Vikings, and also played for the Atlanta Falcons and San Francisco 49ers. Doleman was an eight-time Pro Bowl selection and a three-time first-team All-Pro, recording 150.5 career sacks. He is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2012.

William Stanley Humphries is a former professional American football quarterback. He played for the Washington Redskins and San Diego Chargers of the National Football League. He played high school football at Southwood High School and college football at Northeast Louisiana. He was selected by the Redskins in the sixth round of the 1988 NFL Draft.

Lawrence Guy American football defensive tackle

Lawrence Thomas Guy is an American football defensive tackle for the New England Patriots of the National Football League (NFL). Prior to being drafted by the Green Bay Packers, Guy played college football at Arizona State University. He has also played with the Indianapolis Colts, Baltimore Ravens, and San Diego Chargers.

Gary "Big Hands" Johnson

Gary Lynn "Big Hands" Johnson was an American professional football player who was a defensive tackle in the National Football League (NFL). He was a four-time All-Pro and a four-time Pro Bowl selection. He played the majority of his NFL career with the San Diego Chargers, and he was inducted into the Chargers Hall of Fame.

Louis James Kelcher is an American retired professional football player who was a defensive tackle in the National Football League (NFL), spending most of his career with the San Diego Chargers. He was a four-time All-Pro and a three-time Pro Bowl selection. His outstanding performance made him one of the team's most popular players from 1975 through 1983. Kelcher was inducted into the San Diego Chargers Hall of Fame, and is a member of the franchise's 40th and 50th Anniversary Teams. He was a graduate of Southern Methodist University and French High School in Beaumont, Texas.

Don Coryell

Donald David Coryell was an American football coach, who coached in the National Football League (NFL) first with the St. Louis Cardinals from 1973 to 1977 and then the San Diego Chargers from 1978 to 1986. He was well known for his innovations to football's passing offense. Coryell's offense was commonly known as "Air Coryell". Coryell was the first coach ever to win more than 100 games at both the collegiate and professional level. He was inducted into the San Diego Chargers Hall of Fame in 1986. Coryell is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. The Professional Football Researchers Association named Coryell to the PFRA Hall of Very Good Class of 2010.

Jerry Smith (American football coach)

Jerome Anthony Smith was an American football player and coach. Jerry was born in Dayton, Ohio and attended Chaminade High School, graduating in 1948. At Chaminade he played tight end and later in 1982 was elected to the school's Athletic Hall of Fame.

The 1961 National Football League draft took place at the Warwick Hotel in Philadelphia on December 27–28, 1960. The league would later hold an expansion draft for the Minnesota Vikings expansion franchise, and the Vikings were also awarded the first selection position in this draft. This draft was also the first regular draft for the Dallas Cowboys as they had only participated in the 1960 NFL expansion draft that year. The Cowboys held the worst record in the NFL the previous season, but selected second in this draft because of the entry of the Vikings into the league.

Epic in Miami American football playoff game in 1982

The Epic in Miami was the National Football League AFC divisional playoff game between the San Diego Chargers and Miami Dolphins that took place on January 2, 1982 in the Miami Orange Bowl. The game, won by the Chargers in overtime, 41–38, is one of the most famous in National Football League lore because of the conditions on the field, the performances of players on both teams, and the numerous records that were set. Many former players, coaches and writers assert it as one of the greatest games in NFL history. It was also referred to in the Miami Herald as the "Miracle That Died", while Sports Illustrated dubbed it the "Game No One Should Have Lost". The game aired on NBC with Don Criqui and John Brodie calling the action and Bryant Gumbel serving as the anchor, one of his final assignments for NBC Sports as he began co-hosting Today two days after the game. NFL 100 Greatest Games rated this game as the 4th greatest game.

The 1962 National Football League draft was held on December 4, 1961 at the Sheraton Hotel in Chicago, Illinois.

Cedrick Hardman

Cedrick Ward Hardman was an American Football defensive end who played for the National Football League's San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders and the United States Football League's Oakland Invaders. Hardman's thirteen-year professional football career lasted from 1970 to 1981 in the National Football League and ended as a player/coach in 1983 with the USFL's Oakland Invaders. Hardman held the record for most sacks in a season for the 49ers recording 18 sacks in only 14 games during his 1971 Pro Bowl season with the 49ers until 2012, when it was broken by Aldon Smith with 19.5.

History of the San Diego Chargers Sports team history

The professional American football team now known as the Los Angeles Chargers previously played in San Diego as the San Diego Chargers from 1961 to 2017 before relocating back to Los Angeles where the team played their inaugural season. The Chargers franchise relocated from Los Angeles to San Diego in 1961. The Chargers' first home game in San Diego was at Balboa Stadium against the Oakland Raiders on September 17, 1961. Their final game as a San Diego-based club was played at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego at the end of the 2016 season against the Kansas City Chiefs, who defeated them 37–27.

Leroy Jones is an American former professional football player who was a defensive end. He played the majority of his 10-year career with the San Diego Chargers in the National Football League (NFL).

The Bruise Brothers were a group of American football players who played on the defensive line for the San Diego Chargers in the National Football League (NFL). The foursome, consisting of Fred Dean, Gary Johnson, Louie Kelcher, and Leroy Jones, formed one of the most dominant lines of their era. The Chargers selected Johnson, Kelcher, and Dean in the first two rounds of the 1975 NFL Draft, and they traded for Jones the following year. They helped San Diego lead the league in sacks in 1980.


  1. "Fred Dean Enshrinement speech". August 2, 2008. Retrieved October 15, 2020.
  2. "Dean Readies for the Hall". July 26, 2008. Retrieved October 15, 2020.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Thomas, Jim (July 30, 2008). "Fred Dean: Situational pass-rusher made most of his opportunities". The State Journal-Register. Archived from the original on September 19, 2016.
  4. 1 2 "La. Tech to retire Fred Dean's number". Shreveport Times. July 11, 2017. Retrieved October 16, 2020.
  5. 1 2 3 "2009 Divisional College Football Hall of Fame Class Announced". National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame. May 12, 2009. Retrieved October 16, 2020.
  6. "Hall of Fame Class of 2007". Associated Press. February 3, 2007. Retrieved October 16, 2020.
  7. Center, Bill (July 1, 2010). "Don Coryell, ex-Chargers, Aztecs coach, dies at 85". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved October 16, 2020.
  8. 1 2 Thomas, Jim (July 30, 2008). "Fred Dean: Trade to 49ers proves beneficial for player and team". The Patriot Ledger. Retrieved July 31, 2017. It’s been called the trade of all in-season football trades by NFL Films’ Steve Sabol.
  9. "Fred Dean's Career Highlights". Retrieved October 16, 2020.
  10. 1 2 "Grambling State University Loses Two Football Legends". Fox Sports Interactive Media, LLC. August 11, 2010. Archived from the original on August 19, 2010.
  11. 1 2 "No. 16: Chargers' best draft class". March 28, 2009. Retrieved May 27, 2011. The 2001 class was good, but the 1975 class ranks the best. San Diego had four of the first 33 picks in the draft, and the Chargers selected three defensive linemen that would form the nucleus of "The Bruise Brothers" and once formed three-fourths of the AFC Pro Bowl defensive line.(subscription required)
  12. Smith, Rick (1981). 1981 San Diego Chargers Facts Book. San Diego Chargers. p. 28.
  13. 1 2 "Say It Ain't So". January 28, 2001. Archived from the original on April 3, 2013.
  14. "Dean Goes to Chargers". The New York Times. October 3, 1981. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
  15. "Chargers six-year defensive end Fred Dean, complaining his salary..." United Press International. September 30, 1981. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
  16. Wilson, Bernie (July 31, 2008). "Charger-turned-Niner Fred Dean answers Hall's call". USA Today. Retrieved November 3, 2008.
  17. 1 2 3 Zimmerman, Paul (November 2, 1981). "The 49ers Are Really Panning Out". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved October 16, 2020.
  18. Pomerantz, Gary (November 10, 1981). "Quarterbacks Facing 49ers Make the Dean's List". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
  19. Krasovic, Tom (June 5, 2013). "Chargers had a Fearsome Foursome, too". U-T San Diego. Archived from the original on August 1, 2017.
  20. 1 2 Traub, Alex (October 17, 2020). "Fred Dean, Sack Specialist Who Ignited 49ers Dynasty, Dies at 68". New York Times. ISSN   0362-4331 . Retrieved October 17, 2020.
  21. Killion, Ann (October 11, 2020). "Keep 49ers great Fred Dean in your thoughts as he battles coronavirus". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
  22. Danyluk, Tom; Zimmerman, Paul (January 1, 2005). The Super '70s. Mad Uke Publishing. ISBN   9780977038305.
  23. Madden, John; Anderson, Dave (October 1, 1987). One knee equals two feet: (and everything else you need to know about football). Jove Books. ISBN   9780515091939.
  24. Conetzkey, Chris (August 1, 2008). "Defensive end Fred Dean: In the words of ..." ESPN. Retrieved July 31, 2017. 10 or 12 plays turned into a whole game against the Dallas Cowboys
  25. Gay, Nancy (February 3, 2008). "49ers' Dean is headed to Hall of Fame". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved October 16, 2020.
  26. Branch, Eric (October 15, 2020). "49ers' Hall of Fame pass rusher Fred Dean dies at 68 after coronavirus infection" . San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved October 16, 2020. In 1981, the 49ers, coming off a 6-10 season, acquired Dean in a trade from San Diego when they were 3-2. They proceeded to win 13 of their last 14 games, including the Super Bowl.
  27. 1 2 "Fred Dean | Pro Football Hall of Fame Official Site". Retrieved April 12, 2016.
  28. Magee, Jerry (February 2, 2008). "Dean awaits call from Canton". The San Diego Union-Tribune. p. D-3. During a career made up of six seasons in San Diego and five in San Francisco, he had 93 sacks, by the count of John Turney of the Pro Football Researchers Association.
  29. Price, Taylor (December 2, 2008). "Fred Dean: Life After the Hall of Fame". Retrieved July 31, 2017.
  30. Gosset, Brian (July 27, 2015). "Granbury sculptor says making Hall of Fame bust of Haley 'special'". Star-Telegram. Retrieved July 31, 2017.
  31. "Fred Dean with his wife Pam, and his bust". August 3, 2008. Archived from the original (Photo) on August 1, 2017. Retrieved July 31, 2017.
  32. "Chargers 50th anniversary team". The Press-Enterprise. Archived from the original on December 18, 2009.
  33. "Chargers Honor Lincoln". Lewiston Tribune. October 24, 2000. Archived from the original on February 9, 2013. Retrieved March 8, 2013.
  34. 2010 San Diego Chargers Media Guide (PDF). San Diego Chargers. 2010. p. 231. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 14, 2011.
  35. "Fred Dean". Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame. Retrieved October 16, 2020.
  36. Krasovic, Tom (October 15, 2020). "Fred Dean led 49ers' Super Bowl run after Chargers' Klein wouldn't pay star wages". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved October 16, 2020.
  37. Crabtree, Curtis. "Reports: Hall of Fame defensive end Fred Dean dies of COVID-19 at 68". NBC Sports. Retrieved October 15, 2020.