Fred Dean, a former San Diego Charger and member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, died Wednesday, Hall of Fame officials announced.
He was 68. The San Francisco Chronicle reported Sunday that former teammate Dwight Hicks said Dean had COVID-19.
“He exemplified many of the values learned from this great game – commitment, integrity, courage – over the course of his life,” the Hall’s president and CEO, David Baker, said in a statement. “… We will forever keep his legacy alive to serve as inspiration for future generations.
He added that the Hall of Fame’s flag will be flown at half-staff to honor Dean. The Hall of Fame inducted Dean in 2008.
Everyone who knew Fred was better for it.
Our hearts are with the Dean family
— Los Angeles Chargers (@Chargers) October 15, 2020
The Chargers selected Dean in the second round – the 33rd player overall – in the 1975 NFL Draft. He started 13 of 14 games in his rookie year and went on to play in 11 pro seasons.
As a rookie for the Chargers in 1975, Dean recorded seven sacks and 93 tackles, while recovering four fumbles.
In 1978, Dean had 15.5 sacks as the Chargers posted a winning record for the first time since the 1969 season. He followed by adding nine sacks in 1979 and 10.5 in 1980 as San Diego claimed two consecutive AFC Western Division championships.
Dean appeared in the Pro Bowl following both seasons and was named All-Pro in 1980.
The entire Pro Football Hall of Fame family mourns the passing of Fred Dean. He exemplified many of the values learned from this great game – commitment, integrity, courage – over the course of his life.#HOFForever | @Chargers | @49ers pic.twitter.com/4rbBD3vy2i
— Pro Football Hall of Fame (@ProFootballHOF) October 15, 2020
He opened the 1981 season with the Chargers but was traded to the San Francisco 49ers after five games.
In his Hall of Fame enshrinement speech, Dean said he considered himself “born with the Chargers” and that he enjoyed a “renewal life” with the 49ers.
Two seasons after the trade, in 1983, he led the NFC with a career-high 17.5 sacks. Included in that total – a then-NFL record six sacks in one game during the 49ers’ 27-0 shutout of the New Orleans Saints.
Dean played on five division winners, three NFC championship games and in two of San Francisco’s Super Bowl victories, in 1982 and 1984. Dean earned all-conference honors four times – twice with the Chargers and twice with the 49ers. He was named to four Pro Bowls, from 1980-1982, and 1984.
Eddie DeBartolo Jr., when he presented Dean at his enshrinement, called him a “quiet giant.”
“When the defense needed him to make a big play … (he) never let us down.”
The former 49ers owner also considered Dean a member of the NFL’s “Mount Rushmore of pass rushers,” along with Reggie White, Deacon Jones and Lawrence Taylor.
With Dean’s passing, only Taylor remains.
– Staff reports