Walt Sweeney Dies: Former Lineman Loses Cancer Battle
Walt Sweeney died on Saturday from pancreatic cancer complications. Sweeney was a standout offensive lineman who played for the San Diego Chargers in the 1960s and 1970s.
The football star was a second-round pick from Syracuse in the AFL draft of 1963, reports The Washington Post.
He stayed with the Chargers through the 1970 merger with the NFL and was eventually named to the team’s Hall of Fame for his work.
Sweeney spent 11 seasons with the Chargers, as well as two with the Washington Redskins. During his career, he played in either the AFL’s All Star Game or the Pro Bowl for nine straight seasons. He also played in 181 consecutive games.
The Chargers website adds that Sweeney was also a member of the Bolts’ 50th anniversary team. He was considered an “ironman” for the time. The team adds that the former lineman was “one of the greatest Chargers in franchise history.”
Sweeney sued the NFL in 1997, claiming that the drugs his teams gave him made him an addict. A judge ruled in his favor, ordering the league to give him $1.8 million in disability.
The ruling was later overturned on an appeal. Syracuse.com also notes that Walt Sweeney was named a member of Syracuse University’s All-Century Team. He was a native of Cohasset, Massachusetts. While he was talented on the football field, he suffered problems off of it.
He was a self-confessed alcoholic and drug addict. Sweeney spoke about his life in San Diego last November, saying:
“I’ve led an interesting life, sure. But not a good one … I feel pretty good, and that’s amazing when you consider what I’ve done to this body.”
He added, “Look, I did all of that crazy stuff. I shot that gun six times in training camp. I ran around. I drank. I did drugs. I got in trouble. I did it all. But I was a pretty good football player.” Walt Sweeney’s death is the end of another great football legacy.