Thursday, September 21, 2017

Bernie Casey Has Died

Bernie Casey, one of the NFL’s fastest receivers in the 1960s and an actor and artist who gained fame in the 1970s and 1980s, has died at the age of 78.

Born in the small town of Wyco, West Virginia, Casey became a college football and track star at Bowling Green. In 1959 he was a key player on the 9-0 Bowling Green team that was voted the small college national champion. One of Casey’s college teammates was Jack Harbaugh, who later became a coach and is the father of Jim and John Harbaugh.

Casey was an outstanding all-around athlete who finished sixth in the 110-meter hurdles at the 1960 U.S. Olympic trials, and at 6-foot-4 he was a matchup nightmare for opposing defensive backs. Loving that talent, the 49ers selected Casey with the ninth overall pick in the 1961 NFL draft.

A man who understood that players could control their careers long before the players won the right to free agency, Casey was traded from the 49ers to the Falcons in 1967, but he refused to go to Atlanta. Casey knew he wanted to explore acting, and so he told the Falcons they’d have to trade him again, this time to the Los Angeles Rams. The Falcons, knowing Casey wouldn’t budge, obliged.

In an eight-year NFL career, Casey finished in the Top 10 in receiving four times. His best season came in 1967 with the Rams, when he was chosen to the Pro Bowl and scored the game-winning touchdown in the final minute of a key late-season win over the Packers, helping the Rams earn a playoff berth.

When Casey announced his retirement in 1969 at the age of 29, he said he had other things he wanted to do with his life. He had already written and starred in one-man plays, and he intended to paint and have a book of poetry published as well. In 1977, when a New York Times interviewer asked if he had any thoughts on football, Casey answered, “Actually, I’m working on a volume of love poetry now.”

Casey’s first movie role came in Guns of the Magnificent Seven, a sequel to the classic The Magnificent Seven. He suited up as a football player one more time to appear in Brian’s Song, and he later had roles in the James Bond movie Never Say Never Again, and in 1980s comedies like Revenge of the Nerds and Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. In Bill & Ted, Casey played a teacher who asked Ted (Keanu Reeves) who Joan of Arc was, eliciting the response, “Noah’s wife?”


Sd Auntie said...

Brian's song was so popular when I was growing up!! What a fantastic career he had!! RIP

Scandi Sanskrit said...

RIP. ♥

Funny line about Joan the Arc being Noah's wife. �������� Bless the souls of people who make us laugh...


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