Hall of Fame defensive end Willie Davis, who thrived with the Green Bay Packers during the Vince Lombardi era, died Wednesday at age 85.
Davis’ wife, Carol, said her husband had been hospitalized for about a month with kidney failure and died peacefully
Davis was part of five championship teams, including the first two Super Bowls.
He was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1981 and into the Black College Football Hall of Fame in 2011 to commemorate his career at Grambling State.
Hall of Famer and @packers Legend Willie Davis has passed away at the age of 85.
More: https://t.co/zyH0XgGuNi pic.twitter.com/y5kT1uJWUi
— Pro Football Hall of Fame (@ProFootballHOF) April 15, 2020
“It is with great sadness that the entire Pro Football Hall of Fame family mourns the passing of Willie Davis,” Hall of Fame president David Baker said in a statement. “Willie’s extraordinary athleticism was an undeniable factor in Green Bay’s winning tradition of the 1960s under Coach Lombardi. He helped the Packers through an unprecedented championship run and to two Super Bowl victories. Willie was a man of true character on and off the field. The Hall of Fame will forever keep his legacy alive to serve as inspiration to future generations.”
Davis entered the NFL as a 15th-round pick of the Cleveland Browns, who traded him to the Packers in 1960. Davis was drafted in 1956 but served in the Army for two years before making his NFL debut.
In 10 seasons with the Packers, he appeared in every game and was the first African American captain in team history, according to Packers historian Cliff Christl.
The Packers tweeted condolences Wednesday.
#Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy on the passing of Willie Davis.
Read more: https://t.co/x5uPYnpnCb pic.twitter.com/ToXLqvlQVj
— Green Bay Packers (@packers) April 15, 2020
Davis played before sacks were an official NFL statistic. It is believed he would’ve recorded well over 100 sacks during his career. He would have been credited with five sacks in the first two Super Bowls combined, including three in Super Bowl II.
Later, Davis became a successful businessman in the Milwaukee area, owning several radio stations.
He also served as an NBC analyst on NFL games from 1970 to 1975 and on the Packers’ board of directors from 1994 to 2005.
According to the Packers, Davis died Wednesday morning in a Santa Monica, California, hospital.