Former Pro Bowl running back MacArthur Lane dies at 77

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MacArthur Lane, a running back whose NFL career spanned 11 seasons, has died at the age of 77.

Lane died on Saturday in Oakland, where he was born and raised, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

After playing both linebacker and running back at Utah State, Lane was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals with the 13th overall pick in the 1968 draft. His best NFL season came in 1970, when he led the league with 11 rushing touchdowns and was chosen to the Pro Bowl.

In 1972 Lane was traded to the Packers, and he played three seasons in Green Bay before he was traded to Kansas City, playing his final four seasons with the Chiefs. In Kansas City in 1976, he led the NFL with 66 catches.

Teammates called him “Mac the Truck” because he liked to run over tacklers rather than around him. That he lasted 11 NFL seasons came as a surprise to Lane himself, who told Sports Illustrated during his third season that he didn’t think his body could withstand that many years.

“I figure a running back has maybe three, 3½ years to do his number,” Lane said. “Where else do you have so much contact on every play? I’m not complaining. I love to hit, and so does any good back. But if you’re not running into The Pit, you’re blocking on those great big linemen, or else you’re catching a pass right out there where the linebackers have a bite at you. Here’s the thing: anyone who hits you is moving when he hits you—moving fast. And you’re moving fast yourself. I’d like to see some computer figure out what position takes the most foot-pounds of energy on impact per play. Gotta be the set-back.”

Lane always considered himself lucky to make a living playing football, explaining that he and his wife took in her two step-siblings because his football income allowed him to provide for a big family.

“If you can afford it, you gotta help out,” he said in 1970. “I earn $30,000 a year—having asked, of course, for $50,000—and the kids are first-rate. . . . Look at my old man—how many years has he been working at tough jobs, construction, making it for a batch of kids? When the hurts catch up with me, I’ve already got a plan.”

In retirement, Lane managed a rental property he owned and did volunteer work. He is survived by his wife and two daughters.

20 responses to “Former Pro Bowl running back MacArthur Lane dies at 77

  1. Prayers go out for MacArthur Lane, his family, friends and extended football family. This guy was a football player thru and thru. And an outstanding addition to the human race. Enjoyed watching MacArthur Lane play the game at it’s highest level. RIP.

  2. A great runner and a good guy in an otherwise dismal era for Packers football. RIP.

  3. 30k a year? I believe it was a better country when a life insurance salesman, a plumber, and a future Hall of Fame tight end (hint: the other tight end was Tom Mitchell) could live on the same block.

  4. He ran hard on every play, a testament to what it means to be a football player. I admired his style because he didn’t back down from anybody, delivered as much punishment as he received.

    RIP

  5. One of the all time great guys to play in the league. MacArthur worked in a machinery shop for years before going to college and becoming an NFL star and he never forgot his humble roots. And no one was more committed to doing charitable works. MacArthur played football at a high level but he lived to take care of his family and to serve his community. He will be missed. RIP MacArthur.

  6. “I love to hit, and so does any good back.”

    This was a man who didn’t run out of bounds; he ran over defenders. When you ask yourself “What’s different about today’s game?”, today they don’t run like Macarthur Lane did.

  7. “If you can afford it, you gotta help out,” he said in 1970. “I earn $30,000 a year—having asked, of course, for $50,000—and the kids are first-rate. . . . Look at my old man—how many years has he been working at tough jobs, construction, making it for a batch of kids? When the hurts catch up with me, I’ve already got a plan.”

    In retirement, Lane managed a rental property he owned and did volunteer work.
    ————————————-
    Smart man who could have taught a lot of younger guys about life….

  8. Him and John brockington were a pretty formidable duo there for a couple of years in the early 70s.

  9. Always great to read a little about the players from earlier eras. PFT does a nice job with these.

    RIP Mr. Lane.

  10. He and Brock in the same backfield in ’72 were absolutely unstoppable until the ‘skins found a way.

    Rip Mac.

  11. Yup – Brockington and Lane were an incredible duo in the backfield in 72. Then in the playoffs Washington put 5 DLs on the line of scrimmage and dared Green Bay to throw. So much for Dan Devine as a genius NFL coach.

    MacArthur Lane did a fantastic job blocking for Brockington. And on very rare occasion he’d throw a HB option pass (for a TD)!

  12. He taught me how to play baseball at Woodstock park in Alameda. Great guy great teacher…..RIP

  13. One of my heroes. God bless you Mac, it was a pleasure to watch you and Brock growing up in the 70’s!

  14. John Brockington and MacArthur Lane were a great duo in the backfield for the Packers. They were the best tandem in Green Bay since the days of Jimmy Taylor and Paul Hornung. Had the Packers had a passing attack in those days, the Redskins under George Allen wouldn’t have been able to play their whole defense at the line of scrimmage to stop them as he did.
    Rest in peace, MacArthur. I have nothing but great memories of you with the Cards and Packers.
    Notice it says he did volunteer work after he retired. That’s the type of man he was.

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