Lyle Alzado

Lyle Martin Alzado (April 3, 1949 – May 14, 1992) was a professional All Pro American football defensive end of the National Football League, famous for his intense and intimidating style of play.[1]

Alzado played 15 seasons, splitting his time among the Denver Broncos, the Cleveland Browns, and finally the Los Angeles Raiders with whom he won a championship in Super Bowl XVIII.[2]

Lyle Alzado
No. 77
Position:Defensive end
Personal information
Born:April 3, 1949
Brooklyn, New York
Died:May 14, 1992 (aged 43)
Portland, Oregon
Height:6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Weight:255 lb (116 kg)
Career information
High school:Cedarhurst (NY) Lawrence
NFL Draft:1971 / Round: 4 / Pick: 79
Career history
 * Offseason and/or practice squad member only
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Fumble recoveries:20
Player stats at
Player stats at PFR

Early life

He was born in Brownsville, Brooklyn, New York, to an Italian-Spanish father, Maurice, and a Jewish mother with a Russian family background, Martha Sokolow Alzado, and was Jewish.[3][4][5] His last name was pronounced, Al-Zah-Doe, but became known as Al-Zay-Doe, during his pro football career. When he was 10, the family moved to Cedarhurst, Long Island. His father, whom Alzado later described as "a drinker and street fighter," left the family during Alzado's sophomore year at Lawrence High School.[6] He played high school football and was a Vardon Trophy Candidate (defense) in high school for three years.[5]


Following his failure to receive a college scholarship offer, Alzado played for Kilgore College, a junior college in Kilgore, Texas. After two years, he was asked to leave the team, he later contended, for befriending a black teammate.[6] From Texas, Alzado moved on to the now-defunct Yankton College in South Dakota.[1][5][7] Though playing in relative obscurity in the NAIA, Alzado nonetheless gained notice by the NFL when a scout for the Denver Broncos, having been taken off the road by automobile trouble, decided to pass the time by screening a film of Montana Tech, one of Yankton's opponents.[5] Impressed by the unknown player squaring off against Montana Tech's offense, the scout passed back a favorable report to his team.[6] The Broncos ultimately drafted Alzado in the fourth round of the 1971 draft.[5] Alzado went back to Yankton after his rookie season to get his college degree. He received a B.A. in physical education with an emphasis in secondary education. During his college years, Alzado participated in amateur boxing, and made it to the semi-finals of the 1969 Midwest Golden Gloves Boxing Tournament, held in Omaha.

NFL career

Denver Broncos

When the Broncos' starting right defensive end Rich "Tombstone" Jackson was injured in 1971, Alzado took over the job and went on to make various All-rookie teams for his contributions of 60 tackles and 8 sacks. The following year, Alzado began to get national attention as he racked up 10½ sacks to go with his 91 tackles. In 1973, Alzado posted excellent numbers as the Broncos had a winning record for the first time in team history with a 7–5–2 mark.

In 1974, Alzado gained more notice as one publication named him All-AFC, with his 13 sacks and 80 tackles (eight for a loss) he was recognized as one of the NFL's top defensive ends, along with Elvin Bethea, Jack Youngblood, L. C. Greenwood, Claude Humphrey, and Carl Eller; Bethea, Youngblood, Humphrey and Eller are enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Denver Broncos posted their second consecutive winning season, going 7–6–1.

The 1975 season brought change, as Alzado moved to defensive tackle. He responded with 91 tackles and 7 sacks. Alzado took a step backward as did the Broncos with a 6–8 record. On the first play of the 1976 season, Alzado blew out a knee and missed that campaign. The Broncos were 9–5 but SPORT magazine reported that 12 players, including Alzado, did not think the team could reach the playoffs with coach John Ralston. Ralston was replaced as coach by Red Miller for the 1977 season.

The 1977 season was the most successful in franchise history to that point; the Broncos had one of the NFL's best defenses, went 12–2 and then beat Pittsburgh Steelers and Oakland Raiders, the team with which he would later star, in the playoffs to reach Super Bowl XII. In that game, played in New Orleans, they were beaten soundly 27–10 by the Dallas Cowboys. Still, the year was a big success for Alzado, who was voted consensus All-Pro and consensus All-AFC as well as winning the UPI AFC Defensive Player of the Year. He also led the Broncos in sacks with 8, while making 80 tackles.[1]

In 1978, the Broncos again went to the AFC playoffs, but lost the rematch in the first round to the eventual champion Pittsburgh Steelers. Alzado had 77 tackles and 9 sacks and recorded his first NFL safety. (Alzado would record two more in his career, which places him as tied for second place all-time). He was 2nd team All-Pro and a consensus All-AFC pick. In 1979, he had a contract dispute, and the Broncos traded him to the Cleveland Browns.[1]

Cleveland Browns

Alzado played well with the Browns, making second team All-AFC in 1979 while playing defensive end. He had 80 tackles that year to go with his seven sacks.[1] The following year, the Browns won the AFC Central division, losing to the Raiders in the Divisional round. Alzado led the Browns in sacks with nine, and was All-Pro and All-AFC. In 1981, he suffered some injuries, and at times his focus on football was diminished because of problems in his private life. Still, he recorded 83 tackles and led the Browns in sacks with 8½. However, the Browns, who fell from 11-5 in 1980 to 5-11 in 1981, traded him to the Oakland Raiders in 1982.[7][8]

Los Angeles Raiders

Being discarded by the Browns rekindled a fire in Alzado, and he worked out with a vengeance. By the time Alzado joined the Raiders, the team had relocated to Los Angeles. In 1982, he was voted the NFL Comeback Player of the Year.[8] Although he played a full season in 1981, his play was seemingly so superior in 1982 that he garnered the award. In the strike-shortened 1982 season of 9 games, Alzado recorded 7 sacks and 30 tackles while being voted All-AFC.[8] This was the sixth season out of his first 12 campaigns that he received some sort of post-season honor.

He continued to perform well for the Raiders in the 1983 season, helping lead them to a Super Bowl victory while recording 50 tackles and 7½ sacks. Alzado started at right end opposite future Hall of Fame inductee Howie Long.

He also had an outstanding 1984 season with 63 tackles and 6 sacks, but the next year his tackle and sack totals dipped to 31 and 3 following a mid-season injury.[8]

Alzado retired at the end of the 1985 season.[8] He attempted a comeback in 1990,[9] but injured a knee during training camp and was released. In 196 career games, he racked up 112.5 sacks, 24 forced fumbles, and nearly 1,000 tackles, while earning Pro Bowl honors in 1977 and 1978. Following his retirement from playing, Alzado worked as a part-time color analyst for NBC's NFL coverage in 1988–89.

Style of play

Indeed, the man whom ESPN would later find a "violent, combative player known for his short temper" inspired the league rule against throwing a helmet after having done so himself to an opponent's helmet.[6] Peter Alzado, Lyle's brother, later identified the years of their youth—marked by an absent, alcoholic father and an over-worked mother—as the crucible for Alzado's unremittingly fierce style of play. "That violence that you saw on the field was not real stuff," his brother held. "Lyle used football as a way of expressing his anger at the world and at the way he grew up."[6] Defensive end Greg Townsend, a teammate on the Raiders, contended that the savagery for which Alzado became noted represented only part of a "split personality." "Off the field," remembered Townsend, "he was the gentle giant. So caring, so warm, so giving."[6]

Outside football

Steroid use and death

Alzado was one of the first major US sports figures to admit to using anabolic steroids. In the last year of his life, as he battled against the brain tumor that eventually caused his death, Alzado asserted that his steroid abuse directly led to his fatal illness.[13] Alzado recounted his steroid abuse in an article in Sports Illustrated,

I started taking anabolic steroids in 1969 and never stopped. It was addicting, mentally addicting. Now I'm sick, and I'm scared. Ninety percent of the athletes I know are on the stuff. We're not born to be 300 lb (140 kg) or jump 30 ft (9.1 m). But all the time I was taking steroids, I knew they were making me play better. I became very violent on the field and off it. I did things only crazy people do. Once a guy sideswiped my car and I beat the hell out of him. Now look at me. My hair's gone, I wobble when I walk and have to hold on to someone for support, and I have trouble remembering things. My last wish? That no one else ever dies this way.[14]

The role that anabolic steroids may have played in Alzado's death has been the subject of controversy. The lymphoma of the brain that took his life has not been associated clinically with steroid use. The claim was denounced as a myth in the 2008 documentary Bigger, Stronger, Faster and Wisconsin pediatrician and steroid expert Norm Fost but not proven 100% percent.

Lyle Alzado died on May 14, 1992 at age 43 after a battle with brain cancer. He was buried at River View Cemetery in Portland, Oregon.[15]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e Kardiac kids: the story of the 1980 Cleveland Browns. Kent State University Press. 2003. Retrieved January 13, 2011.
  2. ^ "Jewish Sports Hall of Fame picks honorees". Jewish Journal. December 27, 2007. Retrieved January 13, 2011.
  3. ^ 77: Denver, The Broncos, and a Coming of Age - Terry Frei - Google Books
  4. ^ Raiders Terror Lyle Alzado Never Walks Away from a Fight—On or Off the Football Field |
  5. ^ a b c d e "Lyle Alzado Hits Only on Sunday", Daytona Beach Sunday News-Journal, October 15, 1978
  6. ^ a b c d e f "ESPN Classic bio of Alzado". Espn. Retrieved January 13, 2011.
  7. ^ a b Tom Flores's Tales from the Raiders Sidelines. 2003. Retrieved January 13, 2011.
  8. ^ a b c d e Biographical dictionary of American sports: 1992-1995 supplement for baseball, football, basketball, and other sports. 1995. Retrieved January 13, 2011.
  9. ^ Springer, Steve (May 11, 1990). "Alzado, Who Misses the Violence, to Try Comeback". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 2, 2010.
  10. ^ Orange Madness, Woodrow Paige, Jr., Thomas Crowwell Publishers, 1978, pg. 99.
  11. ^ "Internet Movie Data Base". IMDB. Retrieved May 14, 2013.
  12. ^ Vaughan, Kevin. "Goodbye, Mile High". Denver Rocky Mountain News. Archived from the original on June 11, 2008. Retrieved March 26, 2008.
  13. ^ Foundations of sport and exercise psychology. 2007. Retrieved January 13, 2011.
  14. ^ "Lyle Alzado and Steroids". Archived from the original on May 20, 2012. Retrieved January 28, 2013.
  15. ^ "River View Cemetery". Archived from the original on June 11, 2011. Retrieved May 18, 2011.

External links

1977 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 1977. Both first- and second- teams are listed for the AP and NEA 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 1977.

1978 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 1978. Both first- and second- teams are listed for the AP and NEA teams. These are the four All-Pro teams that were included in the Total Football II: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League.

Boxing on NBC

Boxing on NBC is the de facto title for NBC Sports' boxing television coverage.

Club Fed (film)

Club Fed is a 1990 comedy film that spoofs the "Club Fed"-type of minimum security prisons where wealthy white-collar criminals are often sent.

Destroyer (1988 film)

Destroyer (also known as Shadow of Death) is a 1988 American slasher film starring retired football lineman Lyle Alzado, Deborah Foreman, and Anthony Perkins.

Exhibition fight

An exhibition fight is a contact sports non-profit event, usually a boxing fight in which participants fight, normally for three rounds. They may wear large gloves to minimize punch harm or impact on the combatants, headgear, and non-boxing related clothing. Many exhibition fights involve popular current or former world champions, and exhibition bouts are usually carried out for charity purposes or for the public's entertainment. Exhibition fights are usually not listed as having taken place on boxer's career records.

In England, such boxers as Jem Mace, Jimmy Wilde and Tommy Farr boxed both official and exhibition bouts at what were called "boxing booths".

In Russia during the early 1890s, aristocrat Mikhail Kister performed at exhibition boxing fights.

Learning the Ropes

Learning the Ropes is a Canadian-produced sitcom that aired on CTV in Canada and in syndication in the United States from September 1988 to March 1989. The series stars Lyle Alzado as Robert Randall, a teacher who works as a professional wrestler in the evening. Although his children knew about Randall's double life, the family was forced to keep it secret at school. The series featured guest appearances by many wrestlers of the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA). The sitcom was shot in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Neon City

Neon City (also known as Anno 2053 in Italy, Neonski Grad in Serbia) is a 1991 Canadian post-apocalyptic science fiction film directed by Monte Markham and written by Jeff Begun and Ann Lewis Hamilton, under the pseudonym Buck Finch. The cast includes Michael Ironside, Vanity, Lyle Alzado, Valerie Wildman, Nick Klar, Juliet Landau, Richard Sanders and Markham.

Oceans of Fire

Oceans of Fire is a 1986 American TV film.

Orange Crush Defense

The Orange Crush Defense was the 3–4 defense of the Denver Broncos during the late 1970s and early 1980s. The team adopted the 3–4 defense during the 1976 season, and the nickname "Orange Crush" for the team's defense was popularized early in the 1977 season by sportswriter/broadcaster Woody Paige.

It was one of the top defenses of its time with linebackers Randy Gradishar and Tom Jackson, with Gradishar as a potential Pro Football Hall of Fame selection. Other key players were defensive linemen Paul Smith (a three-time Pro Bowl selection), Barney Chavous, Lyle Alzado, and Rubin Carter, linebackers Bob Swenson and Joe Rizzo, and defensive backs Billy Thompson and Louis Wright and Steve Foley and Bernard Jackson.

In 1977, coach Ralston stepped down and Red Miller was brought in to guide an already talented team to their first ever playoff berth. The defense was already showing signs of dominance. By Week 7 of the 1977 season, the Broncos were 6-0 and the defense was well known as “The Orange Crush Defense”, giving up a total of 46 points during those games.

The team's coaching staff was led by Joe Collier, who was the defensive coordinator, along with defensive line coach Stan Jones (inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1991), and head coach Red Miller.

In the season the team played in Super Bowl XII, the 1977 Broncos had the National Football League (NFL)'s number-one defense against the rush and were a respectable 11th out of 28 teams against the pass using the NFL Passer Rating score. They allowed only 10.6 points per game, the third fewest in the league.

The team's defensive unit derived the nickname from their orange home jerseys and a popular soft drink, Orange Crush.The use of the term has resurfaced in recent years, most notably in reference to the Broncos' 2015 season.

Raider Nation

The Raider Nation is the official name for fans of the National Football League (NFL)'s Oakland Raiders.

The team's fans devotion is chronicled in Better to Reign in Hell, a book written by San Diego English professor Jim Miller and Kelly Mayhew, who are Raiders fans.

Reggie Kinlaw

Reggie Kinlaw (born January 9, 1957) is a former American football defensive tackle who played college football for the Oklahoma Sooners and for the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders and Seattle Seahawks in the National Football League. He graduated from Miami Springs Senior High School.

Drafted in the final round of the 1979 NFL Draft, Kinlaw soon worked his way into the rotation on the defensive line. He went on to become a mainstay at the nose tackle position, starting on Raider Super Bowl winners following the 1980 and 1983 seasons. He was considered an unsung hero on those defenses, which featured stars like Ted Hendricks, Rod Martin, Matt Millen, and, later, Howie Long, Lyle Alzado, and Greg Townsend. Despite being somewhat undersized at 6-2 and 250 pounds, Kinlaw's quickness demanded double teams, freeing up his teammates to make big plays.

Reggie Kinlaw now coaches the defensive line on the varsity level at St. Francis High School in La Cañada Flintridge, California. His son Reggie Kinlaw, Jr. also coaches defensive line on the Junior Varsity level at St. Francis High School.

River View Cemetery (Portland, Oregon)

River View Cemetery, located in the southwest section of Portland, Oregon in the United States, is a non-profit cemetery founded in 1882. It is the final resting place of many prominent and notable citizens of Oregon, including many governors and U.S. Senators. Other notable burials include Henry Weinhard's family, Lyle Alzado, a football player as well as an actor, and Carl Mays a baseball player, remembered for killing an opposing player with a pitch in a Major League game, and famous western lawman Virgil Earp.

Steroid use in American football

The use of anabolic steroids and performance-enhancing drugs in American football is officially prohibited by virtually

The National Football League (NFL) began to test players for steroid use during the 1987 season, and started to issue suspensions to players during the 1989 season. The NFL has issued as many as six random drug tests to players, with each player receiving at least one drug test per season. One notable incident occurred in 1992, when defensive end Lyle Alzado died from brain cancer, which was attributed to the use of anabolic steroids; however, Alzado's doctors stated that anabolic steroids did not contribute to his death.The use of performance-enhancing drugs has also been found in other levels of football, including college level, and high school. The most recent figures from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) football drug tests (see NCAA drug testing) show that one percent of all NCAA football players failed drug tests taken at bowl games, and three percent have admitted to using steroids overall. In the NCAA, players are subject to random testing with 48 hours notice, and are also randomly tested throughout the annual bowl games. The NCAA will usually take approximately 20 percent of the players on a football team to test on a specific day.Anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs are also used throughout high school football. Steroid use at this level of play doubled from 1991 to 2003, with results of a survey showing that about 6 percent of players out of the 15,000 surveyed had admitted to using some type of anabolic steroid or performance-enhancing drug at one point in their playing time. Other data shows that only 4 percent of high schools have some form of drug testing program in place for their football teams.

Stop the Madness

"Stop the Madness" is an anti-drug music video uniquely endorsed and supported by United States President Ronald Reagan and the Reagan administration in 1985. The video includes Claudia Wells, New Edition, La Toya Jackson, Whitney Houston, David Hasselhoff, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Kim Fields, Herb Alpert, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Darrell Creswell, Tim Feehan, Casey Kasem and Boogaloo Shrimp from the Breakin' franchise. Perhaps the main star of the video was Ronald Reagan's wife, Nancy Reagan, whose main cause as First Lady was speaking out against drugs, and forming the "Just Say No" anti-drug association. Mrs. Reagan appeared twice in Stop the Madness.

The video also featured Stacy Keach, an actor arrested and jailed for possession of cocaine in 1984 immediately prior to the release of the video to American high schools.

The video features an appearance from Los Angeles Raiders defensive end Lyle Alzado, who would later admit to taking steroids and human growth hormones since 1969 in a July 8, 1991 article he wrote for Sports Illustrated. Alzado would die from cancer (brain lymphoma) in 1992 at the age of 43.

The video was created by Tim Reid, who played DJ Venus Flytrap on CBS' WKRP in Cincinnati (Reid was currently co-starring on CBS' Simon & Simon as Lieutenant Marcel Proust "Downtown" Brown when the video was being made. The stars of Simon & Simon, Jameson Parker and Gerald McRaney also make an appearance in the video.) , and Brian Dyak, founding president and CEO of the Entertainment Industries Council, with Dyak serving as the video's executive producer. The song was written by Michael Stokes. It premiered January 17, 1986 on NBC's Friday Night Videos and was in regular airing for over six months.

The song featured in the video was released as a single by MCA Records. The dance version of the song was well received in Europe and played in dance clubs internationally, sparking special anti-drug campaigns in Germany, Italy, and other countries.


Tapeheads is a 1988 comedy film directed by Bill Fishman and starring John Cusack, Tim Robbins, Sam Moore and Junior Walker. The film was produced by Michael Nesmith, who briefly appears as a bottled water delivery man.

The Double McGuffin

The Double McGuffin is a 1979 American mystery film written and directed by Joe Camp. The film starred Ernest Borgnine and George Kennedy, alongside a group of young actors, some of whom later became well-known names in the U.S., including Lisa Whelchel, who would go on to star in the sitcom The Facts of Life.

Elke Sommer and NFL stars Ed 'Too Tall' Jones and Lyle Alzado also appear in smaller roles. The film also included a young Vincent Spano as well as Dion Pride (son of country singer Charley Pride). An opening narration is provided by Orson Welles. The cast included Chicago native Michael Gerard, and Dallas area child actors Greg Hodges and Jeff Nicholson.

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