CNN — Baltimore Colts defensive tackle Art Donovan, a hall of famer who spent his later years regaling television audiences with amusing anecdotes about his time in the NFL, has died. He was 88.
“The world is not as bright tonight because we lost someone who could make us all smile,” Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti said Sunday night.
Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay also weighed in.
“Art Donovan..RIP..what a colorful,big-hearted man n Baller!” Irsay said in a post to his official Twitter account. “Tremendous contributor to early building of the greatest league n all of sports.”
The Colts moved from Baltimore to Indianapolis in 1984.
The cause of Donovan’s death was not immediately disclosed.
Donovan played in the NFL for 12 seasons, starting at age 26 after serving in World War II. He led the Colts to the world championship in 1958 and 1959. The 340-pound defensive lineman also laced up his football cleats for the New York Yankees and Dallas Texans, both now defunct.
Donovan played in five Pro Bowls and was selected All-NFL five consecutive years –1954 through 1958. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1968.
“The Pro Football Hall of Fame is saddened to learn of the passing of Baltimore Colts great Art Donovan,” said Steve Perry, hall of fame president and executive director. “Art was a true legend of professional football and he will be deeply missed.”
Jovial and straightforward, Donovan appeared in TV commercials and co-wrote a book in 1987 with Bob Drury called “Fatso: Football When Men Were Really Men.”
During the book tour, Donovan appeared on “Late Night with David Letterman” in 1988.
“Have your read the book?” Letterman asked.
“No, not really,” Donovan admitted to chuckles from the audience.
“Would you recommend that people buy this book?” Letterman continued.
“I don’t know, I guess so,” the affable Donovan deadpanned.
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