View full sizeThis Jan. 14, 1959 file photo shows Art Donovan, defensive tackle for the Baltimore Colts.
Donovan, the Hall of Fame defensive lineman who spent much of his 12-year career with the Baltimore Colts, has dead.
Donovan died Sunday Aug. 4, 2013 at 7:20 p.m. at Stella Maris Hospice in Baltimore, according to Kevin Byrne, senior vice president of the Baltimore Ravens.
Back in the day when NFL players made little money, the 6-foot-3, 265-pound Donovan
played for the love of the game and the thrill of winning.
helped the Colts win championships in 1958 and 1959. (AP Photo/File)
BALTIMORE - Art Donovan, the lineman whose hilarious stories about his football career enabled him to maintain his popularity long after his election into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, died Sunday night.
Donovan died at 7:20 p.m. at Stella Maris Hospice in Baltimore, according to Kevin Byrne, senior vice president of public and community relations for the Baltimore Ravens.
made a name for himself as a feisty defensive tackle for the Baltimore Colts
, helping the team to world championships in 1958 and 1959.
also spent single seasons with the New York Yanks and Dallas Texans in a career that lasted from 1950 through 1961.
Voted into the Hall of Fame in 1968, Donovan was an outstanding lineman and an even better storyteller.
Long after his
career was over, Donovan
made a living on the talk-show circuit, weaving yarns about the NFL's good old days - as he
put it, "When men were, well, men."
was much like Bob Uecker, who also became popular on late-night talk shows through his stories about sports.
performed on the football field as well as anyone at his
position, even though he
once said the only weight he
ever lifted was a beer can.
"Some of the greatest football ever played by a defensive tackle was played by Art Donovan
," said Hall of Fame center Jim Ringo, who died in 2007.
played in the 1958 championship game between the Colts and New York Giants, a contest that was decided in overtime and ultimately tabbed by some football historians as "The Greatest Game Ever Played.
The winner's share was $4,700; the most Donovan ever earned in one season was $22,000.
got a million dollars' worth of memories and more than enough material for storytelling.
filled a hotel shower stall with water and went for a dip.
Things went swimmingly until the shower door burst open, flooding his
room and the one below it.
had a thousand more stories like that, many of which were chronicled in his
autobiography, appropriately titled, "Fatso.
liked to say he
was a light eater - "When it got light, I started eating."
Donovan's father was Arthur J. Donovan Sr.
, arguably the most famous fight referee of all time.
The elder Donovan
was the third man in the ring at 19 of Joe Louis' title fights and some 150 championship bouts in all.
When the younger Donovan
grew up and left the tough New York neighborhood of his
fought in World War II and played college football at Notre Dame and Boston College
was on the football field, he
would just as soon step on a guy's hand than shake it.
Off the field, however, he
was nothing more than a big teddy bear.
The late John Steadman, a sportswriter for The (Baltimore) Sun who covered the Colts in their glory years, once said, "Art
is a tremendous example for everyone, a wonderful Santa Claus-type individual."
often played the role of Saint Nick at the team's annual Christmas party.
good cheer was no act.
goes, people always crowd around him and he
makes them laugh," former Colt Dick Syzmanski once said.
"Isn't that a gift?"
broke into professional football in 1950 with the Colts, who folded after his
played with the Yanks in 1951 and Texans in 1952 before the Dallas franchise moved to Baltimore and became the second version of the Colts.