On Tuesday night, Spartan Nation lost a player not only known for being one of the best Spartans of all time, but being a great person as well. Bubba Smith was found “unresponsive” in his Los Angeles home and was pronounced dead by the police unit that arrived at his house.
His legacy on the gridiron will be mostly remembered in the NFL, but those who reside in East Lansing will reminisce on his historic seasons at Michigan State.
In 1965 and 1966, he was unquestionably put on the All-American list as a ferocious pass-rusher that led the Spartans to a National Championship in 1966.
The National Championship, however, was a split vote between them and Notre Dame after a tied game left both teams at 9-0-1. “The Game of the Century” had its share of controversy though due to the fact that Notre Dame head coach Ara Parseghian decided to run out the clock rather than go for the win at the end.
With the time ticking Bubba Smith made his voice heard by shouting at the sidelines in between every snap and told Parseghian, and this is paraphrasing, that he is a coward by not going for the win.
With the way Smith could have pulverized his quarterback and changed the game even with time expiring, who can blame the coach for settling with a tie?
Smith had his number, 95, retired at the 40th anniversary of the historical game at halftime in which the student section brought back the “kill, Bubba, kill” chant that was heard through the mid-60’s at Spartan Stadium.
Bubba Smith went on to have an excellent nine-year NFL career after being selected as the first overall pick in 1967. Bubba Smith reached the pinnacle of his career when he won his one and only Super Bowl ring with the Colts in 1970.
Bubba refused to wear the ring on a count of “sloppy play” and didn’t feel like he deserved to wear it.
Smith used his congeniality and wonderful personality to get him a spot on many TV shows and movies. His most notable stint was with the series Police Academy, in which he played the character of Moses Hightower.
Bubba Smith will be missed by the football and acting world, but most importantly his family and friends that surrounded him for 66 years.
Bubba held upright respect for his parents and his peers and displayed that role wherever he went. That reason and the memories he left on the field are why the loss of Bubba Smith will be mourned by many people.
Rest in peace, Bubba, we all miss you, and thank you for the wonderful memories.