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Art Donovan Was Both a Football and an American Hero (VIDEO)

Posted on August 05, 2013 by Dean Hybl
Art Donovan was one of the great characters in NFL history.

Art Donovan was one of the great characters in NFL history.

The sports world lost one of the great characters of all-time with the passing on Sunday of football Hall of Fame defensive lineman Art Donovan at the age of 89. Not only was Donovan a Hall of Fame football player, but he was also an American Hero as he served with distinction during World War II.

The son of Hall of Fame boxing referee Art Donovan Sr., Art Jr. originally attended Notre Dame for one semester before leaving school in 1942 to enlist in the Marines. Stationed in the Pacific, he served as an anti-aircraft gunner on the USS San Jacinto during the assault on Leyte in the Philippines.

He later volunteered for the Fleet Marine Force, which landed him in the middle of combat on Okinawa. His citations, which included the Asiatic Pacific Area Ribbon and the Philippine Liberation Ribbon, are a major reason he was the first pro football player selected for the U.S. Marine Corps Sports Hall of Fame.

After the war, Donovan played college football at Boston College before being drafted by the New York Giants as the 204th pick of the 1947 NFL Draft.

He did not actually make his NFL debut until 1950 playing for the original Baltimore Colts. After the team, which also included future Hall of Fame quarterback Y.A. Title folded, he then spent the next two seasons playing for the New York Yanks and the Dallas Texans. As luck would have it, both of those teams also failed and in 1953 he returned to Baltimore with the reincarnated Baltimore Colts.

With the new Colts, Donovan emerged as one of the top defensive linemen in the league. He was a Pro Bowl selection in 1953 and from 1954-57 was a first team All-Pro each season. He was a member of the championship teams for the Colts in 1958 and 1959.

Donovan remained with the Colts through the 1961 season and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1968.

On the field Donovan was just another faceless lineman performing the grunt work in the trenches. But after his retirement, Donovan was anything but quiet and anonymous. His book Fatso was a best seller and he made many appearances on late night television with Johnny Carson and David Letterman. He was also featured one year in ESPN football ads and was prominent in some great NFL Films programs that remembered football in the 1950s and 1960s.

Below are a few of the great video clips featuring this American original. Enjoy!

 


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