NFL Hall of Famer Art Donovan died on Sunday at the age of 89. During his time in the NFL, Donovan played as a defensive tackle for the Baltimore Colts, now the Indianapolis Colts.
Daughter Kelly Donovan-Mazzulli announced that her father passed away from a respiratory ailment shortly before 8 pm. He was surrounded by 15 to 20 family members, including his wife Dorothy.
Along with his career in the NFL, Donovan was also known for his storytelling, reports The Baltimore Sun. He appeared on Late Night with David Letterman 10 times to talk about growing up in the Bronx, his time in the Marines during World War II, and his experiences in the NFL.
An his stories were often laced with self-depreciating humor. Born Arthur James Donovan Jr., the NFL Hall of Famer was the son of a famous boxing referee.
But rather than following his father into the world of boxing, Donovan forged his own path. Despite an average career in high school, he was awarded a scholarship to the University of Notre Dame. But he left after one year to join the Marines.
After the war, he returned to college and ended up being drafted by the Colts in the 1950 NFL Draft. But the team folded at the end of the season, sending Art Donovan to The New York Yanks, then the Dallas Texans.
He finally returned to the Colts in 1953 and stayed there until he retired. USA Today notes that Hall of Famer Jim Ringo once called Donovan “one of the greatest people I played against all my life.”
Art Donovan also played in the 1958 championship game between the Colts and the New York Giants. The event has long been called The Greatest Game Ever Played by many football historians.
Along with his wife, Art Donovan is survived by a sister, a son, three daughters, and seven grandchildren. Funeral services are currently pending.