NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- John Gordy, a former offensive lineman
for the Detroit Lions and University of Tennessee who helped form
the NFL Players' Association, died Friday. He was 73.
The university said in a statement Saturday that Gordy died
Friday in Orange, Calif., after a long battle with cancer.
He was a three-time Pro Bowler with the Lions before a knee
injury led to his retirement in 1967.
The Lions picked him in the second round of the 1957 draft, and
the rookie starter helped the team win the NFL championship, the
last time Detroit claimed the league title.
The Nashville native was named All-Southeastern Conference at
Tennessee and was captain of the team. The Volunteers were SEC
champions that year and went 10-0 before losing to Baylor in the
"All of us who knew John Gordy and were teammates and
colleagues are very deeply saddened by his passing," said former
UT coach Johnny Majors, who played tailback and was alternate
captain the year Gordy was captain. "He was a great friend to
many, was outgoing and an outstanding leader of our football
Gordy served as president and executive director of the NFL
Players' Association and was instrumental in negotiating the first
collective bargaining agreement in major professional sports.
In his retirement hometown of San Clemente, Calif., he became
active with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
A memorial service was planned for Feb. 7 in Irvine, Calif.