Former NFL linebacker Mike Lucci dies at 81

Cleveland Browns v Detroit Lions
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Mike Lucci, who played nine seasons with the Lions, died Tuesday, according to the Associated Press. Lucci was 81.

Lucci died in Boca Raton, Florida, after an extended illness.

The Browns drafted Lucci in the fifth round in 1961. He played three years in Cleveland and nine years in Detroit.

“Many will remember Mike for his toughness as a player during his nine seasons with the Lions, earning Pro Bowl honors in 1971 and being named the team’s defensive MVP three times,” Lions owner Sheila Ford Hamp said in a statement.

During the 1964 NFL championship game won by the Browns, Lucci played special teams. It was his final game with Cleveland.

The Browns traded him to the Lions, where he played 117 games with 106 starts.

Lucci made 21 interceptions in his career. In a preseason game in 1971, Lucci intercepted Joe Namath, who injured his knee while trying to tackle Lucci and was lost for the season.

After his NFL career, Lucci was a radio and TV broadcaster and businessman. He was president of Bally’s Total Fitness and co-owned 19 Burger Kings in Michigan and Illinois.

Lucci appeared in the 1968 movie “Paper Lion” about writer George Plimpton’s tryout with the Lions.

4 responses to “Former NFL linebacker Mike Lucci dies at 81

  1. He was a fantastic middle linebacker, and it sounds like he kept achieving greater success after football.

  2. 19 Burger Kings AND a fitness center….who says the two can’t mesh. RIP Mike…heck of a life!

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