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Friday, January 4, 2013

In Memoriam 2012

Every year the sports world says goodbye to people that made differences in the games that entertain us. The Daily Hat Trick looks back at 12 people that passed away last year who won't soon be forgotten by sports fans who remember them at their most influential.


Joe Paterno

Joe Paterno died this past January 22 of lung cancer at age 85, though most believed a broken heart hasted his passing. One of the greatest coaches in the history of college football, Paterno won more games as Head Coach than any other coach in the history of Football Bowl Subdivision NCAA college football. Paterno won two National Championships, in 1982 and 1986. He led the Penn State Nittany Lions to perfect seasons in 1968, 1969, 1986, and 1994.

On the Penn State coaching staff during 62 seasons, Paterno spent 56 seasons at Head Coach. Paterno was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2007. His tenure came to an abruptly in 2011. He was quickly fired on November 8, 2011, three days after longtime defensive assistant Jerry Sandusky was indicted on dozens of counts of child sexual abuse.

The NCAA erased any evidence of Paterno's existence from 1998 through his termination in 2011 even though the world was there to witness it. This officially dropped Paterno to out of the top 10 winningest coaches in FBS history, though he was on the sidelines during 409 different contests in which the team he coaches had the higher score at the end of the game. 


Gary Carter

Gary Carter died this past February 16 of brain cancer. He was 57. Carter played catcher for 18 years in Major League Baseball, most with the Montreal Expos. He was an 11 time All-Star, three time Gold Glove winner, and finished third in National League MVP voting in 1986.

Carter will probably be best remembered for his heroics with the World Series winning 1986 New York Mets. Carter was the starting catcher on that team. His hit in the bottom of the 10th inning of Game 6 of the 1986 world Series against the Boston Red Sox started the rally that ended with the infamous Bill Buckner error that kept the Mets alive and enabled them to win the series in seven games.

March 2012

Julio Cesar Gonzalez

Julio Cesar Gonzalez died this past March 10 in a motorcycle accident. He was 35. The Mexican fighter won 41 fights in his professional career. He lost by decision to Roy Jones, Jr. in a fight for the undisputed light heavyweight championship in 2001. Gonzalez won the WBO light heavyweight championship in 2003, losing it in his first defense of the title to Zsolt Erdei in 2004. He would unsuccessfully challenge in three more IBF title fights. His last fight was in September of 2011.     

April 2012

Ray Easterling

Easterling with the Atlanta Falcons in 1978. 4
Ray Easterling died this past April 19 of a self inflicted gunshot wound. He was 62. Easterling played safety with the Atlanta Falcons for 8 years in the NFL, from 1972 through 1979. While his playing career was longer than average, it was otherwise unremarkable. Easterling's death is significant because his suicide was the latest in a disturbing pattern of retired NFL players taking their lives while suffering from symptoms of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), damage caused from repeated blows to the head. Easterling was suffering from dementia and chronic depression at the time of his death. Easterling was part of the class action lawsuit by retired players against the NFL filed by former Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon and others.

May 2012

Junior Seau

Junior Seau died this past May 2 of a self inflicted gunshot wound. He was 43. Seau was the fifth pick in the 1990 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers. He played for 20 seasons at linebacker in the NFL, including 13 with the Chargers. The future Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee was a 12 time Pro Bowler, 8 time Associated Press First Team All Pro, played in two Super Bowls (XXIX, XLII), and is a member of the NFL's 1990s All Decade Team.

Less than two years before his death, Seau drove his car off of a 100 foot cliff in California. Seau said he fell asleep at the wheel. He suffered minor injuries. Seau's family dontated his brain tissue for research after his death. While the results were never made public, it was reported that he suffered from symptoms of CTE.

June 2012

Vladimir Krutov

Vladimir Krutov died this past June 6 of a stomach ailment. He was 52. Krutov, a member of the International Hockey Federation Hall of Fame and three Soviet Olympic hockey teams, was considered one of the best wingers of his time. He won two Olympic Gold gold medals (1984, 1988) and a silver medal (1980). He was among the first wave of Soviet players to play in the NHL, joining the Vancouver Canucks during one season in 1989.

The event that Americans may best remember associated with Krutov is the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" game against the United States in Lake Placid, New York. Krutov scored a goal early in the game, but committed a penalty in the third (and final) period of the game that resulted in a power play in which the USA was able to tie the score before going ahead to win.

July 2012

Ben Davidson

Ben Davidson died this past July 2 of prostate cancer. He was 72. At 6 feet 8 inches tall, the defensive lineman was one of the original "Big Bens" of pro football. Davidson played for 11 years between the NFL and AFL, playing eight years for the Oakland Raiders. Davidson was a three time AFL All-Star and a member of the Raiders 1967 AFL Championship team that lost to the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl II.

August 2012

Steve Van Buren

Steve Van Buren died this past August 23 of pneumonia. He was 91. Van Buren was the fifth pick in the 1944 NFL draft out of LSU. He played for eight seasons, all with the Philadelphia Eagles. Van Buren was a seven time All-Pro selection, won the rushing title four times in five years (1945, 1947-1949), is a two time NFL champion (1948, 1949) and retired after the 1951 season as the NFL's all time leading rusher. Van Buren is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

September 2012

Art Modell

Art Modell died this past September 6 after a long history of heart disease. He was 87. Modell was the owner of the Cleveland Browns franchise from 1961 through the end of the 1995 season. The NFL officially recognized the Modell's franchise as the Baltimore Ravens, a new entity, beginning in the 1996 season. Modell owned the Ravens until 2004.

Under Modell's ownership, the Browns were NFL champions in 1964 and the Ravens won Super Bowl XXXV during the 2000 NFL season. Modell will be remembered as a hero in Baltimore and a reviled villain in Cleveland for moving his franchise from Cleveland to Baltimore after the 1995 season, citing financial distress.

October 2012

Alex Karras

Alex Karras died this past October 10 of kidney failure. He was 71. Karras was the 10th pick in the 1958 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions. He played defensive tackle for 12 seasons with the Lions, playing his last game in his only career playoff game in a loss to the Dallas Cowboys in the 1970 season. Karras was a four time Pro Bowler and a three time First Team All Pro. He is a member of the NFL's 1960's All Decade Team and the College Football Hall of Fame. Karras was also well known for playing the father on the popular television sitcom, "Webster" in the 1980s.

November 2012

Marvin Miller

Marvin Miller died this past November 27 of liver cancer. He was 95. Miller, by most informed accounts, is one of the five most influential people in Major League Baseball in the last 100 years. He was the Executive Director of the Major League Baseball Players Association from 1966 until 1982. During that time, the MLBPA evolved into one of the most powerful labor unions in America.

Miller negotiated the first MLBPA collective bargaining agreement with MLB in 1968. In 1974, he helped implement the strategy that led to the end of Major League Baseball's reserve clause, ushering in the beginning of unrestricted free agency in baseball. Player salaries increased 25-fold during Miller's tenure.

December 2012

Jerry Brown


Jerry Brown died this past December 8 from injuries sustained in an automobile accident. He was 25. Brown was a linebacker on the Dallas Cowboys' practice squad at the time of his death. He was a passenger in a car driven my his teammate and best friend, Josh Brent. Brown played in one NFL regular season game earlier this season with the Indianapolis Colts. Brown also played in the Arena Football League and Canadian Football League. Brown was an Arena Bowl XXIV champion with the Jacksonville Sharks in the 2011 AFL season.

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