Lyle Alzado

Last updated

Lyle Alzado
LyleAlzadoPic.jpg
No. 77
Position: Defensive end
Personal information
Born:(1949-04-03)April 3, 1949
Brooklyn, New York
Died:May 14, 1992(1992-05-14) (aged 43)
Portland, Oregon
Height:6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Weight:255 lb (116 kg)
Career information
High school: Cedarhurst (NY) Lawrence
College: Yankton
NFL Draft: 1971  / Round: 4 / Pick: 79
Career history
 * Offseason and/or practice squad member only
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Sacks:23
Fumble recoveries:20
Safeties:3
Player stats at NFL.com
Player stats at PFR

Lyle Martin Alzado (April 3, 1949 – May 14, 1992) was a professional All Pro American football defensive end of the National Football League, famous for his intense and intimidating style of play. [1]

American football Team field sport

American football, referred to as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangular field with goalposts at each end. The offense, which is the team controlling the oval-shaped football, attempts to advance down the field by running with or passing the ball, while the defense, which is the team without control of the ball, aims to stop the offense's advance and aims to take control of the ball for themselves. The offense must advance at least ten yards in four downs, or plays, and otherwise they turn over the football to the defense; if the offense succeeds in advancing ten yards or more, they are given a new set of four downs. Points are primarily scored by advancing the ball into the opposing team's end zone for a touchdown or kicking the ball through the opponent's goalposts for a field goal. The team with the most points at the end of a game wins.

Defensive end defensive position in the sport of American and Canadian football

Defensive end (DE) is a defensive position in the sport of American and Canadian football.

National Football League Professional American football league

The National Football League (NFL) is a professional American football league consisting of 32 teams, divided equally between the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC). The NFL is one of the four major professional sports leagues in North America, and the highest professional level of American football in the world. The NFL's 17-week regular season runs from early September to late December, with each team playing 16 games and having one bye week. Following the conclusion of the regular season, six teams from each conference advance to the playoffs, a single-elimination tournament culminating in the Super Bowl, which is usually held in the first Sunday in February, and is played between the champions of the NFC and AFC.

Contents

Alzado played 15 seasons, splitting his time among the Denver Broncos, the Cleveland Browns, and finally the Los Angeles Raiders with whom he won a championship in Super Bowl XVIII. [2]

Denver Broncos National Football League franchise in Denver, Colorado

The Denver Broncos are a professional American football franchise based in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos compete as a member club of the National Football League (NFL)'s American Football Conference (AFC) West division. They began play in 1960 as a charter member of the American Football League (AFL) and joined the NFL as part of the merger in 1970. The Broncos are owned by the Pat Bowlen trust and currently play home games at Broncos Stadium at Mile High. Prior to that, they played at Mile High Stadium from 1960 to 2000.

Cleveland Browns National Football League franchise in Cleveland, Ohio

The Cleveland Browns are a professional American football team based in Cleveland, Ohio. The Browns compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the American Football Conference (AFC) North division. The Browns play their home games at FirstEnergy Stadium, which opened in 1999, with administrative offices and training facilities in Berea, Ohio. The Browns' official colors are brown, orange, and white. They are unique among the 32 member franchises of the NFL in that they do not have a logo on their helmets.

Oakland Raiders National Football League franchise in Oakland, California

The Oakland Raiders are a professional American football franchise based in Oakland, California. The Raiders compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the league's American Football Conference (AFC) West division. Founded on January 30, 1960, they played their first regular season game on September 11, 1960, as a charter member of the American Football League (AFL) which merged with the NFL in 1970.

Early life

He was born in Brownsville, Brooklyn, New York, to an Italian-Spanish father, Maurice, and a Jewish mother with a Russian family background, Martha Sokolow Alzado, and was Jewish. [3] [4] [5] His last name was pronounced, Al-Zah-Doe, but became known as Al-Zay-Doe, during his pro football career. When he was 10, the family moved to Cedarhurst, Long Island. His father, whom Alzado later described as "a drinker and street fighter," left the family during Alzado's sophomore year at Lawrence High School. [6] He played high school football and was a Vardon Trophy Candidate (defense) in high school for three years. [5]

Brownsville, Brooklyn Neighborhood of Brooklyn in New York City, New York

Brownsville is a residential neighborhood located in eastern Brooklyn in New York City. The 1.163-square-mile (3.01 km2) area that comprises Brownsville has 58,300 residents as of the 2010 United States Census. The neighborhood's boundaries are unclear, but it is generally bordered by Crown Heights to the northwest; Bushwick and Cypress Hills to the north; New Lots to the east; Canarsie to the south; and East Flatbush to the west.

New York (state) State of the United States of America

New York is a state in the Northeastern United States. New York was one of the original Thirteen Colonies that formed the United States. With an estimated 19.54 million residents in 2018, it is the fourth most populous state. To distinguish the state from the city in the state with the same name, it is sometimes called New York State.

Cedarhurst, New York Village in New York, United States

Cedarhurst is a village in Nassau County, on the South Shore of Long Island, New York, in the USA. The population was 6,730 according to the 2017 United States Census estimates with a population increase of +2.2% since 2010 The village is named after a grove of trees that once stood at the post office.

College

Following his failure to receive a college scholarship offer, Alzado played for Kilgore College, a junior college in Kilgore, Texas. After two years, he was asked to leave the team, he later contended, for befriending a black teammate. [6] From Texas, Alzado moved on to the now-defunct Yankton College in South Dakota. [1] [5] [7] Though playing in relative obscurity in the NAIA, Alzado nonetheless gained notice by the NFL when a scout for the Denver Broncos, having been taken off the road by automobile trouble, decided to pass the time by screening a film of Montana Tech, one of Yankton's opponents. [5] Impressed by the unknown player squaring off against Montana Tech's offense, the scout passed back a favorable report to his team. [6] The Broncos ultimately drafted Alzado in the fourth round of the 1971 draft. [5] Alzado went back to Yankton after his rookie season to get his college degree. He received a B.A. in physical education with an emphasis in secondary education. During his college years, Alzado participated in amateur boxing, and made it to the semi-finals of the 1969 Midwest Golden Gloves Boxing Tournament, held in Omaha.

Kilgore College

Kilgore College (KC) is a community college in Kilgore, Texas. It has an annual enrollment in excess of 5,000 students, and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award the Associate's Degree. The school was established in 1935 at the height of the East Texas oil boom, and as such, is home to the East Texas Oil Museum which houses a large collection of memorabilia documenting this period of Texas history.

Kilgore, Texas City in Texas, United States

Kilgore is a city in Gregg and Rusk counties in the eastern part of the U.S. state of Texas. Over three-fourths of the city limits is located in Gregg County, the remainder in Rusk County. Kilgore was the childhood residence from age six of the noted classical pianist Van Cliburn, the namesake for Van Cliburn Auditorium on the Kilgore College campus. The population was 12,975 at the 2010 census; a July 2015 estimate placed it at 14,947.

Yankton College

Yankton College was a small liberal arts college in Yankton, South Dakota, United States, affiliated with the Congregational Christian Churches.

NFL career

Denver Broncos

When the Broncos' starting right defensive end Rich "Tombstone" Jackson was injured in 1971, Alzado took over the job and went on to make various All-rookie teams for his contributions of 60 tackles and 8 sacks. The following year, Alzado began to get national attention as he racked up 10½ sacks to go with his 91 tackles. In 1973, Alzado posted excellent numbers as the Broncos had a winning record for the first time in team history with a 7–5–2 mark.

Richard Samuel Jackson is a former American football player. He played college football for Southern University. Jackson played for the American Football League's Oakland Raiders in 1966 and the AFL Denver Broncos from 1967 through 1969. He played for the NFL Broncos in 1970 through 1971, and the NFL Cleveland Browns in 1972. Jackson was All-Pro in 1969 and 1970.

In 1974, Alzado gained more notice as one publication named him All-AFC, with his 13 sacks and 80 tackles (eight for a loss) he was recognized as one of the NFL's top defensive ends, along with Elvin Bethea, Jack Youngblood, L. C. Greenwood, Claude Humphrey, and Carl Eller; Bethea, Youngblood, Humphrey and Eller are enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Denver Broncos posted their second consecutive winning season, going 7–6–1.

Elvin Bethea American football player

Elvin Lamont Bethea is a former American football defensive end who played his entire career with the Houston Oilers. He played for North Carolina A&T State University and was the first person from that school to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, having been inducted in 2003.

Jack Youngblood American football player, defensive end, Pro Football Hall of Fame, College Football Hall of Fame

Herbert Jackson Youngblood III is an American former college and professional football player who was a defensive end for the Los Angeles Rams of the National Football League (NFL) for fourteen seasons during the 1970s and 1980s. He was a five-time consensus All-Pro and a seven-time Pro Bowl selection and was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Before playing professionally, Youngblood played college football for the University of Florida, and was recognized as an All-American. He is considered among the best players Florida ever produced—a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and one of only six Florida Gators to be named to the Gator Football Ring of Honor.

L. C. Greenwood American football player

L. C. Henderson Greenwood was an American football defensive end for the Pittsburgh Steelers of the National Football League (NFL).

The 1975 season brought change, as Alzado moved to defensive tackle. He responded with 91 tackles and 7 sacks. Alzado took a step backward as did the Broncos with a 6–8 record. On the first play of the 1976 season, Alzado blew out a knee and missed that campaign. The Broncos were 9–5 but SPORT magazine reported that 12 players, including Alzado, did not think the team could reach the playoffs with coach John Ralston. Ralston was replaced as coach by Red Miller for the 1977 season.

The 1977 season was the most successful in franchise history to that point; the Broncos had one of the NFL's best defenses, went 12–2 and then beat Pittsburgh Steelers and Oakland Raiders, the team with which he would later star, in the playoffs to reach Super Bowl XII. In that game, played in New Orleans, they were beaten soundly 27–10 by the Dallas Cowboys. Still, the year was a big success for Alzado, who was voted consensus All-Pro and consensus All-AFC as well as winning the UPI AFC Defensive Player of the Year. He also led the Broncos in sacks with 8, while making 80 tackles. [1]

In 1978, the Broncos again went to the AFC playoffs, but lost the rematch in the first round to the eventual champion Pittsburgh Steelers. Alzado had 77 tackles and 9 sacks and recorded his first NFL safety. (Alzado would record two more in his career, which places him as tied for second place all-time). He was 2nd team All-Pro and a consensus All-AFC pick. In 1979, he had a contract dispute, and the Broncos traded him to the Cleveland Browns. [1]

Cleveland Browns

Alzado played well with the Browns, making second team All-AFC in 1979 while playing defensive end. He had 80 tackles that year to go with his seven sacks. [1] The following year, the Browns won the AFC Central division, losing to the Raiders in the Divisional round. Alzado led the Browns in sacks with nine, and was All-Pro and All-AFC. In 1981, he suffered some injuries, and at times his focus on football was diminished because of problems in his private life.[ citation needed ] Still, he recorded 83 tackles and led the Browns in sacks with 8½. However, the Browns, who fell from 11-5 in 1980 to 5-11 in 1981, traded him to the Oakland Raiders in 1982. [7] [8]

Los Angeles Raiders

Being discarded by the Browns rekindled a fire in Alzado, and he worked out with a vengeance. By the time Alzado joined the Raiders, the team had relocated to Los Angeles. In 1982, he was voted the NFL Comeback Player of the Year. [8] Although he played a full season in 1981, his play was seemingly so superior in 1982 that he garnered the award. In the strike-shortened 1982 season of 9 games, Alzado recorded 7 sacks and 30 tackles while being voted All-AFC. [8] This was the sixth season out of his first 12 campaigns that he received some sort of post-season honor.

He continued to perform well for the Raiders in the 1983 season, helping lead them to a Super Bowl victory while recording 50 tackles and 7½ sacks. Alzado started at right end opposite future Hall of Fame inductee Howie Long.

He also had an outstanding 1984 season with 63 tackles and 6 sacks, but the next year his tackle and sack totals dipped to 31 and 3 following a mid-season injury. [8]

Alzado retired at the end of the 1985 season. [8] He attempted a comeback in 1990, [9] but injured a knee during training camp and was released. In 196 career games, he racked up 112.5 sacks, 24 forced fumbles, and nearly 1,000 tackles, while earning Pro Bowl honors in 1977 and 1978. Following his retirement from playing, Alzado worked as a part-time color analyst for NBC's NFL coverage in 1988–89.

Style of play

Indeed, the man whom ESPN would later find a "violent, combative player known for his short temper" inspired the league rule against throwing a helmet after having done so himself to an opponent's helmet. [6] Peter Alzado, Lyle's brother, later identified the years of their youth—marked by an absent, alcoholic father and an over-worked mother—as the crucible for Alzado's unremittingly fierce style of play. "That violence that you saw on the field was not real stuff," his brother held. "Lyle used football as a way of expressing his anger at the world and at the way he grew up." [6] Defensive end Greg Townsend, a teammate on the Raiders, contended that the savagery for which Alzado became noted represented only part of a "split personality." "Off the field," remembered Townsend, "he was the gentle giant. So caring, so warm, so giving." [6]

Outside football

Steroid use and death

Alzado was one of the first major US sports figures to admit to using anabolic steroids. In the last year of his life, as he battled against the brain tumor that eventually caused his death, Alzado asserted that his steroid abuse directly led to his fatal illness. [13] Alzado recounted his steroid abuse in an article in Sports Illustrated ,

I started taking anabolic steroids in 1969 and never stopped. It was addicting, mentally addicting. Now I'm sick, and I'm scared. Ninety percent of the athletes I know are on the stuff. We're not born to be 300 lb (140 kg) or jump 30 ft (9.1 m). But all the time I was taking steroids, I knew they were making me play better. I became very violent on the field and off it. I did things only crazy people do. Once a guy sideswiped my car and I beat the hell out of him. Now look at me. My hair's gone, I wobble when I walk and have to hold on to someone for support, and I have trouble remembering things. My last wish? That no one else ever dies this way. [14]

The role that anabolic steroids may have played in Alzado's death has been the subject of controversy. The lymphoma of the brain that took his life has not been associated clinically with steroid use. The claim was denounced as a myth in the 2008 documentary Bigger, Stronger, Faster and Wisconsin pediatrician and steroid expert Norm Fost but not proven 100% percent.

Lyle Alzado died on May 14, 1992 at age 43 after a battle with brain cancer. He was buried at River View Cemetery in Portland, Oregon. [15]

See also

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  7. 1 2 Tom Flores's Tales from the Raiders Sidelines. 2003. Retrieved January 13, 2011.
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