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Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 57

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This is the grave of Lyle Alzado.

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Born in Brooklyn, Lyle Alzado loved football but was not seen as a college prospect. Thus he traveled to faraway Texas to play at Kilgore College, a 2-year school. He then transferred to Yankton College in South Dakota, a school that has since been turned into a federal prison. He was noticed by a scout watching film of an opposing player at equally obscure Montana Tech. The Denver Broncos drafted him in the 4th round in 1971, where he played until 1978. He soon became an excellent defensive linemen. A contract dispute led Denver to send him to the Browns, who traded him to the Raiders in 1982. By this time, he was playing with utter angry abandon, known for his enforcer style that fit Al Davis’ teams of the time. At one point, he threw his helmet at an opposing player, leading the NFL to create the Alzado Rule that banned players from using their helmets as weapons. He retired in 1985 with 112.5 sacks. In order to keep up this intense style of play and physical regimen, he shot himself full of a shocking amount of steroids. Many claimed that Alzado’s death from cancer at the age of 43 in 1992 was due to his chemical regime, but that’s probably not true.

As a child, rooting for the Seahawks in the early 80s, there was only one player I hated more than Alzado. That was Horseface Elway.

It does not seem that anyone has ever played Lyle Alzado in the movies or TV. But Alzado himself appeared on the screen many times. He was in episodes of True Blue, Top Cops, Trapper John MD, MacGyver, and many other fine shows of the 1980s and early 1990s. He was also in Ernest Goes to Camp and Who’s Harry Crumb.

Lyle Alzado is buried in River View Cemetery, Portland, Oregon.

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  • Denverite

    That was Horseface Elway.

    That turned out well for you.

    I always had a fondness for Dave Krieg because he looked (and probably still looks) just like my dad. Actually, checking, my dad’s 4.5 years older.

    • Krieg really is an underrated QB in the annals of the game. Not a great QB mind you. But he really was quite good.

    • Dennis Orphen

      And this is where Milton College is mentioned on this blog, for the first and the last time.

  • Bootsie

    He then transferred to Yankton College in South Dakota, a school that has since been turned into a federal prison.

    Yeah that sounds like South Dakota.

    • Bill Murray

      Yankton College was a private school affiliated with the Congregational Church, so that could have happened anywhere. Now USD-Springfield which was closed to make a state prison is very South Dakota

      • Denverite

        I’m just shocked that Yankton isn’t a made up place from Deadwood.

        • mikeSchilling

          You never heard of the Yankton Cocksuckers?

          • Denverite

            Can’t say I’ve heard of those fuckers. Whoever they are, I hear Wu’s got some pigs he wants them to meet.

        • mikeSchilling

          I don’t think Deadwood made up any places; Yankton was the territorial capital and Spearfish is a real place too. And of course Bullock, Star, Farnum, and Swearengen were all real people, though not identical to their portrayals.

          • Bill Murray

            all true. My family lived in Spearfish when I was born, although I was born in Deadwood

    • Dennis Orphen

      Now that’s how you do the school to prison pipeline right!

    • Mike G

      Turning a college into a prison, sounds like a Trump voter’s wet dream.

  • Bill Murray

    I met Lyle Alzado when he came back to Yankton to talk to my 4th Grade class after his first NFL season. I don’t remember much, if anything, of what he said. I think it likely there was some work hard, persevere and things will turn your way.

    He seemed reasonably nice and was happy to talk to bunch of dumb kids. I always liked him better than Elway.

    Also, with respect to Yankton College, I had a friend a couple of years younger than me who went to Yankton College the year before they closed down. This was after the previous year attending USD-Springfield which was closed to become a state prison. So two years, two colleges closed to become prisons. It’s good thing international prisons weren’t a thing or MountMarty College might have gone down too

  • Erik visited Riverview Cemetery and didn’t bother to see the grave of Batman? Scandalous!

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/travels_of_a_taphophile/1929286319

    • Dennis Orphen

      While he is from the Pacific Northwest, and I believe one of his nieces lives in Portland, Adam West is still alive and well. That’s not The Batman.

      But awesome and thanks.

    • wjts

      Batman sought land grants in the Western Port area, but the New South Wales colonial authorities rejected this. So, in 1835, as a leading member of the Port Phillip Association he sailed for the mainland in the schooner Rebecca and explored much of Port Phillip.

      When he found the current site of central Melbourne, he noted in his diary of 8 June 1835, “This will be the place for a village.”[2][4][19] and declared the land “Batmania”.[20][21]

  • wjts

    Your list of his cinematic and televisual triumphs omitted his turn in the title role of Destroyer.

    • Downpuppy

      Of all the 1980s slasher monsters, that’s the only one I remember that wasn’t part of a series. Big, scary, energetic.

      The long history of football players turning into actors seems to have hit a deadspot. I blame the Boz.

      • Hopefully the old days when any random player on the Rams could find consistent offseason work in Hollywood revives now that they are back in LA. And with Jeff Fisher’s offense, these are some exciting potential stars!

        • socraticsilence

          It would give Jared Goff something to do.

  • Murc

    God, I loved Ernest Goes to Camp as a child.

    Really, I love moves about going to camp in general. And TV shows. Any kind of camp. I love the movie space camp. And god bless them, Rooster Teeth just made Camp Camp, which I also loved.

    • Norrin Radd

      Band Camp 3–you should’ve seen it!

  • CrunchyFrog

    Many claimed that Alzado’s death from cancer at the age of 43 in 1992 was due to his chemical regime, but that’s probably not true.

    One of those people was Alzado himself.

    http://www.si.com/vault/1991/07/08/124507/im-sick-and-im-scared-the-author-a-former-nfl-star-has-a-dread-disease-that-he-blames-on-his-use-of-performance-enhancing-drugs%255D

  • Mudge
  • Dilan Esper

    You left out the most amazing part of his bio. He fought Ali in Mile High Stadium.

  • osceola

    Erik, you didn’t cite North Dallas Forty. perhaps the best pro football movie ever. He had the best line in that, when he tells a front office guy, “Whenever we call it a game, you call it a business. But whenever we call it a business, you call it a game.”

    • Downpuppy

      Probably because Alzado wasn’t in ND40, & John Matuszak got the line.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6mpHW3SMcc

      • Dennis Orphen

        John Matuszak died in 1989 at the age of 49 and is buried in the Holy Sepulcher Cemetery in Cudahy, Wisconsin. Too much darvocet.

      • osceola

        oops, sorry….. (hangs head in nerd shame)

        Tooz was a wild man, too.

    • joejoejoe

      This 1981 Pete Dexter piece on John Matuszak captures a lot about that era in football and the Raiders.

  • osceola

    Erik, you left out North Dallas Forty, perhaps the best pro football movie ever. He had the best line when he told a front office guy, “when we call it a GAME, you call it a BUSINESS. But when we call it a BUSINESS, you call it a GAME!”

    (Sorry about the repost, but my first post timed out during te edit. But this is the one I want to stand.)

    • burnspbesq

      Film doesn’t come close to doing the novel justice.

  • BiloSagdiyev

    Well, I sure missed the news of his death. My life was a sewy-hole back in 1992, very busy and stressed.

    Since you’re making fun of Elway’s horsie face, I shall post this old gem of a joke by Emo Phillips.
    _____________________________________________

    I was in San Francisco once, walking along the Golden Gate Bridge, and I saw this guy on the bridge about to jump. So I thought I’d try to stall and detain him, long enough for me to put the film in.

    I said, “Don’t jump!” and he turns… You’ve heard of the elephant man. He was kind of like that, he had a, well, you could say he had the head of a horse. And my heart went out to him. I said, “Why the long face?”

    He said, “‘Cause all my life people have called me mean names like horses-head or Flicka or chess-piece or Trigger…”

    I said, “Well, don’t worry about it, Ed. It can’t be that bad.”

    He said, “My girlfriend’s suing me!”

    I said, “For palomino?”

    He said, “Why was I put on this Earth?”

    I said, “My friend, anywhere else you wouldn’t stand a chance.”

    He said, “Nobody loves me.”

    I said, “God loves you, you silly ninny.”

    He said, “How do you know there’s a God?”

    I said, “Of course there’s a God. Do you think that billions of years ago a bunch of molecules floating around at random could someday have had the sense of humor to make you look like that?”

    He said, “I do believe in God.”

    I said, “Are you a Christian or a Jew?”

    He said, “A Christian.”

    I said, “Me too. Protestant or Catholic?”

    He said, “Protestant.”

    I said, “Me too! What franchise?”

    He says, “Baptist.”

    I said, “Me too! Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist?”

    He says, “Northern Baptist.”

    I said, “Me too! Northern Conservative Baptist or Northern Liberal Baptist?”

    He says, “Northern Conservative Baptist.”

    I say, “Me too! Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist or Northern Conservative Reform Baptist?”

    He says, “Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist.”

    I say, “Me too! Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist Great Lakes Region or Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist Eastern Region?”

    He says, “Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist Great Lakes Region.”

    I say, “Me too! Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879 or Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912?”

    He says, “Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912.”

    I said, “Die, heretic!” And I pushed him over!

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