Bubba Smith

Charles Aaron "Bubba" Smith (February 28, 1945 – August 3, 2011) was an American professional football player, who starred as a defensive end in both college and the NFL before becoming an actor following his retirement from the sport.

Smith first came into prominence at Michigan State University, where he twice earned All-American honors on the Spartans football team. He had a major role in a 10–10 tie with Notre Dame in 1966 that was billed as "The Game of the Century." He is one of only three players to have his jersey number retired by the program. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1988.[1]

The first selection of the 1967 NFL Draft, Smith played nine years in the National Football League (NFL) with the Baltimore Colts (1967–1971), Oakland Raiders (1973–1974), and Houston Oilers (1975–1976). He was the Colts' starting left defensive end for five seasons, playing in Super Bowls III and V. He was named to two Pro Bowls and was a First-Team All-Pro in 1971.[2] He had tremendous quickness despite being 6 feet 7 inches (2.01 meters) tall and weighing 265 pounds, (120.20 kilograms),[3] a combination which usually earned him a double-team.[2]

During his acting career, Smith specialized in comedic roles in film, television, and television advertising. For about a decade following his retirement from football, he appeared in various commercials for Miller Lite. His best-known role was as Moses Hightower in the first six Police Academy movies.[4]

Smith was posthumously diagnosed with CTE, a neurological condition generally related to concussion and sub-concussive head trauma.

Bubba Smith
refer to caption
Smith in 2009
No. 78, 77
Position:Defensive end
Personal information
Born:February 28, 1945
Orange, Texas
Died:August 3, 2011 (aged 66)
Los Angeles, California
Height:6 ft 7 in (2.01 m)
Weight:265 lb (120 kg)
Career information
High school:Charlton-Pollard High School
Beaumont, Texas
College:Michigan State
NFL Draft:1967 / Round: 1 / Pick: 1
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Games played:111
Fumble recoveries:4
Player stats at NFL.com
Player stats at PFR

Early life

Smith was born on February 28, 1945 in Orange, Texas, to Willie Ray Smith Sr. and Georgia Oreatha Curl Smith, and raised in nearby Beaumont. His father, Willie Ray Smith, Sr., was a football coach who earned 235 victories at three high schools in the Beaumont area. Bubba had the opportunity to play for his father at Charlton-Pollard High School in Beaumont.[2] He developed into one of the state's best-ever high school football players.[5] Smith's younger brother Tody Smith played collegiately for the University of Southern California, and professionally for the Dallas Cowboys, Houston Oilers and Buffalo Bills

Football career


Smith originally had hopes of playing college football at the University of Texas. Even though Longhorns head coach Darrell Royal regarded him as worthy of an athletic scholarship, Royal was unwilling to offer one in the face of racial segregation which prevailed throughout the Southern United States at the time. Texas was then a member of the Southwest Conference (SWC), which began to integrate in 1967. The university's football program lagged behind, before acquiescing in 1970.

The situation at UT motivated Smith to become a much better player[5] at Michigan State University, where he was an All-American in both 1965 and 1966. He was a popular athlete at Michigan State, earning the arresting fan chant of "Kill, Bubba, Kill."

His final game at Michigan State was a 10–10 tie with Notre Dame at Spartan Stadium on November 19, 1966.[6] With both teams undefeated, untied and ranked atop the national polls going in (The Fighting Irish were ranked #1 at 8–0–0, the Spartans #2 at 9–0–0), the match-up was hyped as the college "Game of the Century".[7] Early in the first quarter, Smith tackled Notre Dame starting quarterback Terry Hanratty, who suffered a separated left shoulder. Hanratty was replaced for the remainder of the game by Coley O'Brien. Smith, who admitted that Hanratty's injury actually backfired on the Spartans, stated, "That didn't help us any. It just let them put in that O'Brien who's slippery and faster and gave us more trouble. The other guy just sits there and waits, and that's what we wanted."[8] Michigan State finished second behind Notre Dame in the final voting for the national championship.[7]

In 1988, Smith was enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame. Michigan State retired his number 95 jersey on September 23, 2006, prior to the Spartans' home game against Notre Dame, amid repeated cheers of his old slogan from the student section. This game also celebrated the 40th anniversary of the "Game of the Century."


Smith was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1967 NFL draft, taken by the Baltimore Colts with a selection originally held by the expansion New Orleans Saints, which had been traded for quarterback Gary Cuozzo. Smith's Michigan State teammate, running back Clint Jones, followed him as the #2 pick. To date, Smith is the only Michigan State player to be taken #1 overall.

Smith spent nine seasons in the NFL as a defensive end and played in the Super Bowl twice in his first five seasons. The heavily-favored Colts lost Super Bowl III to the New York Jets and won Super Bowl V two years later following the 1970 season. It was Smith's only Super Bowl ring. However, in interviews, Smith stated that he would never wear the ring, out of a sense of disappointment that he and his teammates were unable to win Super Bowl III.[9] He was injured in the 1972 preseason when he ran into a solid steel pole the NFL was using at the time to mark yardage and missed the season. He was traded to the Oakland Raiders after the 1972 season, and finished his career with the Houston Oilers. He was selected All-Pro one year, All-Conference two years, and went to two Pro Bowls.

Acting career

After retiring from professional football, Smith began acting in small movie and television roles in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He is perhaps best known for his role as Moses Hightower in the Police Academy movie series, a role he reprised in all but one of the Police Academy sequels.

Smith starred in the short-lived television series Blue Thunder, partnering with Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive star Dick Butkus, with whom he frequently costarred in advertisements for Miller Lite beer.[10] Among other television series Smith appeared in were Good Times, The Odd Couple, Taxi, Hart to Hart, MacGyver, Married... with Children and Family Matters.

Smith was the longtime spokesman of Baltimore-area law firm Cohen, Snyder, Eisenberg & Katzenberg.

Personal life

In 1983, Smith published an autobiography entitled "Kill, Bubba, Kill", in which he stated he felt it was possible Super Bowl III had been rigged to enable the Jets to win in order to ensure the 1970 AFL-NFL Merger proceeded smoothly.[11]

Smith was found dead in his Los Angeles home by his caretaker on August 3, 2011. He died from acute drug intoxication and heart disease. Phentermine, a weight-loss drug, was found in his system. His heart weighed more than twice that of an average similar male. He was 66 years old.[12][13][14]

CTE diagnosis

On May 24, 2016, it was announced that Smith had suffered from the brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a neurodegenerative illness afflicting unknown numbers of former athletes in contact sports. The findings were confirmed by researchers affiliated with the Department of Veterans Affairs, Boston University and the Concussion Legacy Foundation, and released with the permission of the executor of Smith's estate.[15][16][17][18]

Smith is the 90th former NFL player found to have had CTE by the researchers at the Boston University brain bank; they have examined 94 former pro players. According to the Concussion Legacy Foundation, On a scale of 1 to 4 used by the neuropathologist who examined Smith's brain, Smith had Stage 3 CTE, with symptoms including cognitive impairment and problems with judgment and planning.[15][18]


Year Title Role Notes
1979 A Pleasure Doing Business Joe Marsh
1981 Escape from DS-3 Mac
1983 Stroker Ace Arnold
1984 Police Academy Moses Hightower
Blue Thunder Lyman 'Bubba' Kelsey TV Series, 11 episodes
1985 Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment Officer Moses Hightower
1986 Black Moon Rising Johnson
Police Academy 3: Back in Training Sgt. Moses Hightower
1987 Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol
The Wild Pair Benny Avalon
1988 Police Academy 5: Assignment Miami Beach Sgt. / Lt. Moses Hightower
1989 Police Academy 6: City Under Siege
1990 Gremlins 2: The New Batch Himself
1991 Married With Children "Spare Tire" Dixon TV Series, 1 episode
1992 My Samurai Reverend George
The Naked Truth The Cop
1993 Fist of Honor Detective Johnson
1994 The Silence of the Hams Olaf
1995 Drifting School Peter Jackson
2000 Down 'n Dirty Det. Jerry Cale
The Flunky Himself
2004 The Coach Hulk Referee Short
2006 Full Clip Sleepy
2008 Breaking the Huddle: The Integration of College Football Himself TV movie
2010 Blood River Harold
2016 DaZe: Vol. Too (sic) - NonSeNse Himself (final film role)


  1. ^ "Former Two-Time All-American Bubba Smith Passes Away At Age 66". msuspartans.com. Retrieved January 20, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c "Local football legend Bubba Smith dies at 66". Beaumont Enterprise. Retrieved January 20, 2015.
  3. ^ "Bubba Smith". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved January 20, 2015.
  4. ^ "Bubba Smith obituary: NFL player turned beer pitchman dies at 66". Los Angeles Times. August 4, 2011. Retrieved January 20, 2015.
  5. ^ a b "Justice: Bubba Smith made his mark in unique way". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved January 20, 2015.
  6. ^ 2011 Michigan State University Football Media Guide.
  7. ^ a b "The Game of the Century"; #1 Notre Dame 10, #2 Michigan State 10; November 19, 1966. Archived July 20, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "Bleacher Report". Bleacher Report. Retrieved January 20, 2015.
  9. ^ "America's Game". NFL Films. Retrieved October 14, 2012.
  10. ^ Alfano, Peter (October 9, 1983). "Athletes Advertising Images: Bullies to 'Beefcake'". The New York Times. Retrieved April 8, 2018.
  11. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/1983/09/29/sports/super-bowl-fix-hinted.html
  12. ^ "Bubba Smith, NFL star and 'Police Academy' actor, found dead at home", Los Angeles Times, August 3, 2011, accessed August 3, 2011.
  13. ^ "Bubba Smith Dead — 'Police Academy' Star Dies at 66". tmz.com. August 3, 2011. Retrieved August 3, 2011.
  14. ^ "Bubba Smith dies of drug intoxication, coroner says". latimes.com. November 2, 2011. Retrieved November 2, 2011.
  15. ^ a b Belson, Ken (May 24, 2016). "Bubba Smith, N.F.L. Star and Actor, Had C.T.E." New York Times. Retrieved May 24, 2016.
  16. ^ Perez, A.J (May 24, 2016). "Former NFL player Bubba Smith had brain disease CTE when he died". USA Today. Retrieved May 24, 2016.
  17. ^ "Concussion group says Bubba Smith had CTE". Associated Press. May 24, 2016. Retrieved May 24, 2016.
  18. ^ a b Vinton, Nathaniel (May 24, 2016). "NFL great Bubba Smith, who played Hightower in 'Police Academy' movies, had stage 3 CTE". NY Daily news. Retrieved May 24, 2016.

External links

1965 All-Big Ten Conference football team

The 1965 All-Big Ten Conference football team consists of American football players chosen by various organizations for All-Big Ten Conference teams for the 1965 Big Ten Conference football season. Players receiving All-Big Ten honors in 1965 included six players who were also recognized as consensus All-Americans: Aaron Brown, Jim Grabowski, Bob Griese, Bubba Smith, George Webster, and Bill Yearby. Eleven players from the 1965 Michigan State Spartans football team received first- or second-team All-Big Ten honors.

1965 College Football All-America Team

The 1965 College Football All-America team is composed of college football players who were selected as All-Americans by various organizations that chose College Football All-America Teams in 1965.

The NCAA recognizes six selectors as "official" for the 1965 season. They are (1) the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), (2) the Associated Press (AP), (3) the Central Press Association (CP), (4) the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA), (5) the Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA), and (6) the United Press International (UPI). Four of the six teams (AP, UPI, NEA, and FWAA) were selected by polling of sports writers and/or broadcasters. The CP team was selected with input from the captains of the major college teams. The AFCA team was based on a poll of more than 500 coaches. Other notable selectors, though not recognized by the NCAA as official, included The Football News (FN), a weekly national football newspaper, Time magazine, The Sporting News (TSN), and the Walter Camp Football Foundation (WC).Three players were unanimously selected as first-team players by all six official selectors as well as the four unofficial selectors. They are: (1) USC running back Mike Garrett who led the NCAA with 1,440 rushing yards and won the 1965 Heisman Trophy; (2) Tulsa end Howard Twilley who in 1965 set an NCAA record with 1,779 receiving yards, a single-season record that stood for 30 years; and (3) Illinois fullback Jim Grabowski who was second in the NCAA with 1,258 rushing yards and won the 1965 Chicago Tribune Silver Football trophy after breaking the Big Ten Conference career rushing record. Garrett, Twilley, and Grabowski also finished first, second, and third in the 1965 Heisman Trophy voting with 926, 528, and 481 points, respectively. All three were later inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

The 1965 Michigan State Spartans football team were ranked #1 in the final UPI Coaches Poll and led the country with eight players receiving at least one first-team All-American designation. The Spartans' first-team honorees were: defensive back George Webster (AFCA, AP, NEA, UPI, FN, WC); defensive end Bubba Smith (AFCA, UPI, WC); end Gene Washington (CP, FN); quarterback Steve Juday (AP); running backs Clinton Jones (FWAA) and Bob Apisa (FN); middle guard Harold Lucas (NEA); and linebacker Ron Goovert (FWAA).

Purdue, ranked No. 13 in the final UPI Coaches' Poll, finished second with four first-team honorees: quarterback Bob Griese (AFCA, CP, NEA, UPI, FN, WC); defensive tackle Jerry Shay (AFCA, FN); offensive tackle Karl Singer (AP); and offensive end Bob Hadrick (FN). Notre Dame, Arkansas, and Nebraska tied for third place, each with three first-team selections.

1965 Michigan State Spartans football team

The 1965 Michigan State Spartans football team represented the Michigan State University in the 1965 Big Ten Conference football season. The Spartans won the Big Ten Championship and competed in the 1966 Rose Bowl, losing to UCLA. Despite the loss, the Spartans shared the national championship with Alabama. Michigan State was selected national champion by UPI/coaches, Berryman, Billingsley, DeVold, Dunkel, FB News, Helms, Litkenhous, NFF, Poling, Sagarin, and Sagarin (ELO-Chess) and also co-national champion by FW. Both Alabama and Michigan State were Consensus National Champions for the season.

1966 Big Ten Conference football season

The 1966 Big Ten Conference football season was the 71st season of college football played by the member schools of the Big Ten Conference and was a part of the 1966 NCAA University Division football season.

The 1966 Michigan State Spartans football team, under head coach Duffy Daugherty, won the Big Ten football championship, compiled a 9–0–1 record, and was ranked No. 2 in the final AP Poll. Four Spartans' players were among the first eight selections in the 1967 NFL/AFL Draft: defensive tackle Bubba Smith (first); running back Clinton Jones (second); linebacker George Webster (fifth); and flanker Gene Washington (eighth).

The 1966 Purdue Boilermakers football team, under head coach Jack Mollenkopf, finished in second place with a 9–2 record and was ranked No. 7 in the final AP Poll. The Boilermakers received the conference's berth to play in the 1967 Rose Bowl because of the Big Ten's "no-repeat" rule and defeated USC, 14–13. Purdue quarterback Bob Griese led the conference in passing yards and total yards and won the Chicago Tribune Silver Football as the Big Ten's most valuable player and the Sammy Baugh Trophy as the nation's top collegiate passer. Griese also finished second behind Steve Spurrier in the voting for the 1966 Heisman Trophy.

1966 College Football All-America Team

The 1966 College Football All-America team is composed of college football players who were selected as All-Americans by various organizations that chose College Football All-America Teams in 1966.

The NCAA recognizes six selectors as "official" for the 1966 season. They are (1) the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), (2) the Associated Press (AP), (3) the Central Press Association (CP), (4) the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA), (5) the Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA), and (6) the United Press International (UPI). Four of the six teams (AP, UPI, NEA, and FWAA) were selected by polling of sports writers and/or broadcasters. The Central Press team was selected with input from the captains of the major college teams. The AFCA team was based on a poll of coaches. Other notable selectors, though not recognized by the NCAA as official, included Time magazine, The Sporting News (TSN), and the Walter Camp Football Foundation (WCFF).The undefeated Notre Dame and Michigan State teams finished the season ranked #1 and #2, played to a 10-10 tie in the 1966 Notre Dame vs. Michigan State football game, and dominated the 1966 All-America selections. Notre Dame had six players who received first-team honors: guard Tom Regner (AFCA, AP, CP, NEA, UPI, Time, TSN, WCFF); back Nick Eddy (AFCA, AP, CP, FWAA, NEA, UPI, WCFF); defensive end Alan Page (CP, FWAA, NEA, Time, TSN, WCFF); linebacker Jim Lynch (AFCA, AP, CP, FWAA, NEA, UPI, Time, TSN, WCFF); and defensive tackles Pete Duranko (AFCA, UPI) and Kevin Hardy (Time, TSN). Michigan State had five: defensive end Bubba Smith (AFCA, AP, CP, FWAA, NEA, UPI, Time, TSN, WCFF); offensive end Gene Washington (AFCA, UPI, Time, TSN); running back Clint Jones (AP, CP, NEA, Time, TSN, WCFF); defensive back/linebacker George Webster (AFCA, AP, CP, FWAA, NEA, UPI, Time, TSN, WCFF); and tackle Jerry West (NEA).

1971 All-Pro Team

The following is a list of players that were named to the Associated Press All-Pro Team, the Newspaper Enterprise Association All-Pro team and the Pro Football Writers Association, and Pro Football Weekly All-Pro teams in 1971. Both first- and second- teams are listed for the NEA, and PFWA teams. These are the four All-Pro teams that are included in the Total Football II: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League and compose the Consensus All-pro team for 1971.

20th GMA Dove Awards

The 20th Annual GMA Dove Awards were held on April 13, 1989, recognizing accomplishments of musicians for the year 1988. The show was held in Nashville, Tennessee.

Blue Thunder (TV series)

Blue Thunder is an American drama series based on the movie of the same title that aired on ABC from January 6 until April 16, 1984 featuring the Blue Thunder helicopter.The series uses the converted Aérospatiale Gazelle helicopter and large portions of stock footage from the 1983 film. A ground unit named "Rolling Thunder" backed up the helicopter in the television series. This was a large support van with a desert camouflage off-road vehicle stored inside.

The television series cast includes James Farentino, Dana Carvey, and former professional American football players Bubba Smith and Dick Butkus. The series was canceled by ABC after they felt the similar Airwolf on CBS would win the ratings battle. Also, the series aired at the same time as the CBS soap opera Dallas on Friday nights, and lost.

Eleven episodes were made before the series was cancelled.

Down 'n Dirty

Down 'n Dirty is an action movie starring Fred Williamson as Dakota Smith. It also stars Bubba Smith, Gary Busey, Tony Lo Bianco, Beverly Johnson, Randy J. Goodwin, David Carradine and Charles Napier.

Full Clip

Full Clip is a 2003 action film starring Busta Rhymes, Xzibit, Bubba Smith, Tiny Lister and Mark Boone Junior. It is directed by mink and written by Kantz.

Gary Cuozzo

Gary Samuel Cuozzo (born April 26, 1941) is a former professional American football player. An undrafted quarterback from the University of Virginia, Cuozzo played in 10 NFL seasons from 1963 to 1972. He began his NFL career on the Baltimore Colts as a backup to Johnny Unitas. When Unitas was injured in 1965, Cuozzo replaced him until getting sidelined by injury as well, forcing coach Don Shula to use running back Tom Matte as an emergency quarterback.

He was traded to the expansion team New Orleans Saints in 1967, where he was the first starting quarterback in the franchise's history. However, the trade was disastrous for New Orleans, which gave away the first overall pick in the 1967 NFL draft to the Colts, who used it to select Michigan State All-American Bubba Smith, who became an All-Pro and was Baltimore's starting left defensive end in Super Bowl III and V.

After losing the Saints' starting job later in 1967 to Billy Kilmer, he was traded to the Minnesota Vikings. He became the Vikings' starting quarterback in 1970 when Joe Kapp, the team's Most Valuable Player in 1969, held out and was traded to the Boston Patriots. Cuozzo was named NFC Player of the Week for leading the Vikings to a 27-10 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in a rematch of Super Bowl IV in the season opener.

The 1970 Vikings posted the NFL's best regular season record at 12-2, but lost in an NFC Divisional playoff game to the San Francisco 49ers at home. In 1971, Cuozzo could not hold on to his starting job, sharing duties with Norm Snead and Bob Lee. The Vikings went 11-3 in the regular season and lost in the divisional playoffs at home to the eventual Super Bowl champion Dallas Cowboys.

After the 1971 season, the Vikings reacquired Fran Tarkenton from the New York Giants, with Snead and the Vikings' leading receiver from 1971, Bob Grim, going to the Big Apple. Tarkenton played his first six seasons (1961-66) in Minnesota, coinciding with the Vikings' first six seasons in the NFL.

Cuozzo was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals in the deal which sent fleet wide receiver John Gilliam to the Vikings. Cardinals coach Bob Hollway was familiar with Cuozzo, having served as Minnesota's defensive coordinator under Bud Grant prior to leaving for St. Louis in 1971.

Cuozzo was part of a chaotic four-quarterback rotation with Jim Hart, Pete Beathard, and Tim Van Galder in 1972, but when Don Coryell took over as Cardinals coach in 1973, he named Hart the undisputed starter, and he would hold the job into the 1980s.

Following his retirement in 1973, Cuozzo moved to Middletown Township, New Jersey, to start an orthodontics practice.

In 1990, his oldest son Gary Jr., a/k/a Chip, was murdered in Miami during a drug deal, and Cuozzo gave talks to teens about avoiding drugs. He served as national chairman of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes from 1995 to 1998.Cuozzo played high school football at Glen Ridge High School in Glen Ridge, New Jersey.

Leslie Kelley

Leslie Howard Kelley (born December 9, 1944) is a former American football fullback/linebacker in the National Football League for the New Orleans Saints. He played college football at Alabama and played just 3 seasons in the NFL without ever starting.

He was the first ever draft choice of the Saints, taken with the final pick of the first round in the 1967. The Saints originally had the #1 overall pick in that draft, but traded it to the Baltimore Colts for quarterback Gary Cuozzo. The Colts selected Michigan State All-America defensive end Bubba Smith with the traded pick.

List of Police Academy cast members

This is a list of actors and voice actors who appeared in one or more installments of the Police Academy film and television series.

Tom McHugh (American football)

Thomas McHugh (born c. 1932) is a former college baseball coach and American football player and coach. He was a standout player at the University of Notre Dame where he was a member of the undefeated 1953 Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team under head coach Frank Leahy.McHugh was selected by the Chicago Cardinals in the 1954 NFL Draft.As a high school coach at Toledo's Central Catholic High School, he coach future Michigan State and NFL star Bubba Smith. He is the brother of former Toledo, Ohio mayor John McHugh.He served as the head football coach at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio from 1978 to 1982, compiling a record of 18 wins and 27 losses. He served as the head baseball coach at Kenyon from 1968 to 1983.


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