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Bubba Smith dies at 66

Charles Aaron “Bubba” Smith, the No. 1 overall pick in the 1967 NFL draft who later found fame as an actor, has died at the age of 66.

After ending an All-American career at Michigan State in 1966, Smith was taken first in the draft by the Baltimore Colts. He played on Baltimore’s defensive line for five years, then was traded to the Oakland Raiders, where he played in 1973 and 1974, and finished his career with the Houston Oilers in 1975 and 1976.

The 6-foot-7, 265-pound Smith was one of the biggest players of his era. He won a ring at Super Bowl V and went to two Pro Bowls.

After retiring, Smith became an actor. He was best known for playing Moses Hightower in the first six Police Academy movies.

No cause of death has been determined, but officials said they believe Smith died of natural causes.

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53 Responses to “Bubba Smith dies at 66”
  1. dawkinseffect says: Aug 3, 2011 6:30 PM

    Sad to see someone die of “Natural Causes” at 66. He will be missed

  2. drbengolfing says: Aug 3, 2011 6:31 PM

    RIP I loved your work on the field and on the screen. I hope it was a peaceful passing.

  3. hobartbaker says: Aug 3, 2011 6:34 PM

    Charles Aaron completely changed the perception of “Bubba” in the mind of America.

  4. tfbuckfutter says: Aug 3, 2011 6:35 PM


    It shoulda been Guttenberg.

  5. jersey73 says: Aug 3, 2011 6:38 PM

    Sad. A great football player, a fun actor…and according to teammates, one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet.

  6. thereisalwaysnextyear says: Aug 3, 2011 6:40 PM

    ” He was best known for playing Moses Hightower in the first six Police Academy movies.”

    Good lord how many of those freaking movies did they make?

  7. dogsweat1 says: Aug 3, 2011 6:45 PM

    Taste Great or Less Filling?

    Anybody remember him doing the Lite Beer ads?

  8. johnnycamparm says: Aug 3, 2011 6:45 PM

    What a shame. I’m way to young to have watched him play football, but I love Police Academy. He was such a lovable character, and seemed like an all around nice guy. R.I.P Bubba.

  9. newagerocker says: Aug 3, 2011 6:46 PM

    RIP Bubba

    LOL @tfbuckfutter

  10. 1bigtex says: Aug 3, 2011 6:46 PM

    My grandparents taught school in the same town where Bubba’s dad was a high school coach. Willie Sr. was highly respected. Bubba’s oldest brother, Willie Jr., was Gale Sayers blocking back at Kansas and was well on his way to a pro career himself until a knee injury took him out. 66 is way too young to be checking out. Vaya con dios.

  11. mempusa says: Aug 3, 2011 6:48 PM

    I just looked him up on Sunday.
    Rest in Peace Hightower!!!

  12. quizguy66 says: Aug 3, 2011 6:49 PM

    😦 RIP Bubba – he was great in those movies!


  13. The Buffer Zone says: Aug 3, 2011 6:50 PM


    Growing up in Baltimore in the 80s, he was such a figure from hearing stories about him playing before i was born and watching him on the Police Academy movies and local commercials…definitely sad…especially at 66…

  14. slickster35 says: Aug 3, 2011 6:52 PM

    RIP big Bubba.

    The good die young.

  15. broncotis3000 says: Aug 3, 2011 6:53 PM

    Too bad…One of the dominant players of his time..R.I.P Hightower…

  16. pooflingingmonkey says: Aug 3, 2011 6:53 PM

    @jersey73 says: Aug 3, 2011 6:38 PM

    “Sad. A great football player, a fun actor…and according to teammates, one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet.”

    I’ll second that. I met Smith in LA in the late eighties at a charity function, He was friendly, smart and very soft spoken.

    Great guy.

  17. iflounder says: Aug 3, 2011 6:53 PM

    that’s too bad. he was also in one of my favorite episodes of married with children. that showdown with him and al was tv at its best.

  18. seneca1ss says: Aug 3, 2011 6:59 PM

    All the chemicals in our food and water and they consider that “Natural Causes” (Fleeced by the U.S. Gov’t)

  19. Robert Chandler says: Aug 3, 2011 7:07 PM

    I was in awe of him when he was in his prime. And I’ll never forget his terribly unfortunate injury, when he ruined his knee by crashing into the first down marker. I believe that gruesome injury prompted the NFL to change the poles from metal to a more flexible plastic. I saw that game live and all these years later, still cringe when I recall that freak incident. He returned to play at a high level, but was never the same.

  20. jebdamone says: Aug 3, 2011 7:07 PM

    RIP officer hightower. loved you, both on the field and in your movie and television appearances.

  21. daviddmsvcp says: Aug 3, 2011 7:14 PM

    My condolences. He was a sports hero to a lot of people. A great player from a great era of the NFL.

  22. timegambit says: Aug 3, 2011 7:20 PM

    He motivated me to read his book, “Kill, Bubba, Kill!” from cover to cover. A feat that scores of teachers after that failed to accomplish.

    I loved the scene in Police Academy where they had to remove the front seat of a car so he could fit in it.

  23. duckman62 says: Aug 3, 2011 7:21 PM

    He was one of the main reasons I played football in High School and College. Both he and Lyle Alzado were the people I so wanted to be like. Thank you for giving me (and all of us who enjoyed all you did on the field and off the field!) so much!

  24. radrntn says: Aug 3, 2011 7:24 PM

    he was favorite of mine as a kid..,…..big ol bubba

  25. mr4thand1 says: Aug 3, 2011 7:28 PM

    Rest In Peace, Bubba……you will be missed.

    “Tastes great, Less filling!”

  26. ryanw822 says: Aug 3, 2011 7:34 PM

    Bubba Smith!

    Billy Martin!

  27. democratsarestupid says: Aug 3, 2011 7:45 PM

    R.I.P to one of the true Colts

  28. 8man says: Aug 3, 2011 8:06 PM

    Damn. More and more of those champion Baltimore Colts passing. It’s a sad day.

    And what a personality Smith had! Great player and great all around guy.

  29. oldpeteman says: Aug 3, 2011 8:11 PM

    “I also like the easy opening can” great commercial from a great D lineman.

  30. bcjim says: Aug 3, 2011 8:15 PM

    It is sad, couple of those pa movies were pretty funny. Not like 66 is that young though.

  31. duncanthecat says: Aug 3, 2011 8:16 PM


  32. peanutbutter&jelly says: Aug 3, 2011 8:18 PM

    there are great people and there are geat players. bubba smith was both. sorry you had to check out so early the world lost a great human being. rip bubba

  33. dansnyder says: Aug 3, 2011 8:25 PM

    I just watched police academy the other day. I’m glad to have enjoyed it one more time before he passed. RIP

  34. Dave H says: Aug 3, 2011 8:30 PM

    Bubba went to my gym and loved to talk football. He was always surrounded by guys that wanted to talk to him about his days playing ball and get his opinions about the upcoming games. He will be missed. A real nice guy. He told once he could see the fear in the eyes of the man trying to block him. Awesome!

  35. ladymacesq says: Aug 3, 2011 8:56 PM

    You didn’t hit the brakes!

    You didn’t tell me to.

    RIP, Bubba Smith. You will be missed.

  36. coseybedaman says: Aug 3, 2011 8:58 PM

    Wow this is a real sad shocker. Bubba not only was too young to pass on, but the man looked like he could still play football. I never in my wildest dreams thought Bubba Smith was close to passing away. Ive met him numerous times, and one of the nicest, kindest athletes in NFL history. True class act. Its horribly sad, but if we could all pass away in the kind of condition Bubba was in I would say we were pretty lucky.

  37. whatwouldlombardido says: Aug 3, 2011 9:09 PM

    RIP Big Fella.

  38. goawayeverybody says: Aug 3, 2011 9:10 PM

    RIP Bubba! You are missed.

  39. vahawker says: Aug 3, 2011 9:15 PM

    Great player…I still have that card from when I opened that pack with the powdered stale gum in it.

  40. gdeli says: Aug 3, 2011 9:42 PM

    RIP hightower. Too damn early and right before football season. damn.

  41. thetooloftools says: Aug 3, 2011 9:48 PM

    WOW… Bubba was so cool.
    All our bestest.

  42. tomsd1 says: Aug 3, 2011 9:59 PM

    The 1966 Michigan St-Notre Game – perhaps the best college game ever played. More pros came out of that game than any other.

    And sadly – Bubba was never as dominant after wrecking his knee on the first down marker.

  43. randysavage4ever says: Aug 3, 2011 10:36 PM

    Once a Raider, always a Raider.

    Love you, may the lord rest your soul in heaven.

  44. hammertoe11 says: Aug 3, 2011 10:40 PM

    I learned some thing here tonight. 1. I didn’t know he played for the Colts before moving here to Indiana, 2. I sure in the hell Charles Aaron “Bubba” Smith played the role of hightower. I was a kid when he played football. But he is a good actor though. Loved the movies.

  45. North American Bowl says: Aug 3, 2011 10:53 PM

    Somewhere Carey Mahoney is upset..

    The “Blue Oyster Bar” is closed..

    Here is a Miller Lite to you Bubba!!

    It tastes great!

  46. bubbasmithguy says: Aug 3, 2011 10:55 PM

    RIP Bubba. He was one of the first players I followed as a youngster.

  47. deadeye says: Aug 3, 2011 10:58 PM

    He’s really not dead as long as we can find a way to remember him.

  48. ikie12pts says: Aug 3, 2011 11:21 PM

    RIP Bubba. One of the last of the truly GREAT players and great gentlemen. I’m so fortunate to have seen you play.

  49. thermalito says: Aug 3, 2011 11:23 PM

    Another guy dead young from the NFL steroid era.

  50. CKL says: Aug 4, 2011 1:27 AM

    So sad and YES 66 is young to die of “natural causes.”

    “Says here the name’s…Bubba Smith”. Wish that wasn’t the obits. 😦

    As an aside I will never understand how any post that expresses sincere condolences gets thumbs down. WTF?

  51. gregcon says: Aug 4, 2011 1:38 AM

    I received an electric football game under the Christmas tree in 1971. Baltimore Colts v Dallas Cowboys. Possibly the best Christmas present I ever received. I still have the Baltimore Colts pennant that was included. Bubba was a prominent member of that Baltimore Colts team. RIP.

  52. godofwine330 says: Aug 4, 2011 9:12 AM

    A great guy from what I hear. Sad to hear of his passing. Though undeniably sad, it is something that we all have to do. Unfortunately, no one leaves this rock alive.

  53. Deb says: Aug 4, 2011 1:26 PM

    So sorry to hear this. RIP, Bubba.

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