Former NFL defensive end Dee Hardison dies at 61

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Former NFL defensive end Dee Hardison died of heart failure Saturday in North Carolina. He was 61.

The Bills made him a second-round pick in 1978. Hardison spent three years with the Bills, who converted him to an offensive lineman before releasing him late in the 1981 season.

The Giants signed him, and Hardison played in both of their postseason games that season. He played four of 11 seasons with the Giants from 1982-85 before two years with the Chargers and one with the Chiefs.

“In 1983, when I arrived to play football for the New York Giants, the first person I met was Dee and his sidekick, Jerome Sally,” defensive end Leonard Marshall said, via quotes distributed by the team. “Immediately, we began to grow a bond and brotherhood.

“I became a quick study and learning more of the technical aspects of how to play the position of right defensive end by monitoring his movement on the field and his approach to playing a game. It made me work harder to become the starter in my rookie season with the Giants. Dee was a great teammate and one that I will never forget.”

Hardison’s funeral will be Saturday at noon ET at Northwood Temple Church in Fayetteville, North Carolina.