Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive end Fred Dean died late Wednesday night. He was 68.
“The entire Pro Football Hall of Fame family mourns the passing of Fred Dean,” Hall of Fame president and CEO David Baker said in a statement. “He exemplified many of the values learned from this great game — commitment, integrity, courage — over the course of his life. Our thoughts and prayers are with Fred’s wife, Pam, and their entire family. We will forever keep his legacy alive to serve as inspiration for future generations.”
A two-time first team All-Pro and two-time Super Bowl champion with the San Francisco 49ers, Dean entered the NFL as a second-round pick of the then-San Diego Chargers in 1975.
Dean earned Pro Bowl selections in 1979 and 1980 with the Chargers before being traded to the 49ers during the 1981 season. He then helped San Francisco to the franchise’s first Super Bowl title following the 1981 season.
Dean also earned Pro Bowl nods in 1981 and 1983 and played a role in the 49ers’ Super Bowl championship following the 1984 season.
Dean had an NFC-best 17.5 sacks in 1983, including a then-NFL-record six in a game versus the New Orleans Saints.
Dean recorded 13 fumble recoveries and one interception in 141 career games (82 starts) with the Chargers (1975-81) and 49ers (1981-85). Former Niners owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr. presented Dean for induction into the Hall of Fame in 2008.
The 49ers issued a statement upon learning of Dean’s passing.
“The 49ers family is heartbroken to learn of the passing of one of the game’s all-time greats, Fred Dean,” the team said. “Fred not only impacted countless opposing quarterbacks throughout his career, but also the future of the game of football as one of the NFL’s first true pass rushing specialists.
“… One of the most feared defenders in the game, he is remembered as a quiet, fun-loving, sincere, country gentleman. Fred’s accolades were numerous, but his love for the game, his teammates and those close to him are what endeared him to so many.”
Chargers owner Dean Spanos also issued a statement on behalf of his team.
“Fred was one of the most feared defenders to ever play the game and yet, off the field, you would be hard pressed to find a kinder human being,” Spanos said. “He was a gentle giant with a smile matched only by his own sheer size. Everyone who knew Fred was better for it, and we are all terribly saddened by his loss. Our hearts and prayers are with his wife Pam and the entire Dean family.”