Rusty Hilger, a quarterback who spent time with the Raiders, Lions, Colts and Seahawks in the 1980s and 1990s, has died at the age of 57.
Hilger had battled cancer for several years, according to News 9 in Tulsa.
Born and raised in Oklahoma City, Hilger became the starting quarterback at Oklahoma State in 1981 and led the Cowboys to some of their most successful seasons in school history. In his final season, in 1984, he played in one of the biggest games in the state’s history, with No. 3 Oklahoma State at No. 2 Oklahoma. Hilger threw a 77-yard touchdown pass that gave Oklahoma State a 14-7 lead early in the game but was hit so hard on that play that he said later he had no further recollection of anything that happened in a game his team would end up losing.
“I shouldn’t even have been in the game,” Hilger told the Tulsa World in 2004. “I really cannot tell you what happened after I got hit. I’d like to watch the tape sometime.”
The Raiders drafted Hilger in 1985 and he was named their starting quarterback in 1987, but after a good start to that season the NFL players went on strike, and when the players came back he and his Raiders teammates struggled. In 1988 he started nine games for the Lions, but after that he never started another game. He retired after the 1992 season, citing arthritis in his knees.