On the field he was a force. Off of it, Bubba Smith was a gentle giant who was soft spoken and cared for his teammates and others. The former NFL star for the Baltimore Colts and actor died Wednesday of what appeared to be natural causes. He was 66.
Los Angeles County coroner’s spokesman Ed Winter said Smith was found dead at his Baldwin Hills home. Winter said he didn’t know the circumstances or cause of death.
The top overall pick in the 1967 draft out of Michigan State, Smith spent five seasons with the Colts and two seasons each with the Raiders and Houston. He won a Super Bowl with the Colts, topping the Cowboys in Super Bowl V, and made two Pro Bowls as a defensive end.
Smith also was enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame in 1988.
As an actor his most memorable role was playing Moses Hightower, the soft-spoken officer in the “Police Academy” series. He was also a regular in the ground-breaking Miller Lite commercials featuring retired players.
“I’m saddened. I remember my first training camp in 1972 in Golden, Colo. I spent a lot of time with him. He was a great guy. He was a giant, the biggest player on the field,” Colts owner Jim Irsay said.
Smith was part of two of the most famous football games ever played. In 1966, he was at Michigan State when the Spartans and Notre Dame, both undefeated, played to a 10-10 tie. In January 1969, he played for the Colts against the New York Jets in Super Bowl III. Led by Joe Namath, the Jets of the AFL upset the NFL champion Colts 16-7 in Miami.