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Art Donovan, NFL Hall of Famer, dies at 89

As pro football celebrates with the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, it mourns the passing of one its own Sunday night.

Jason Miller

With a large number of its members gathered in Canton, Ohio this weekend to celebrate the induction of its 50th anniversary class, the Pro Football Hall of Fame is mourning the loss of one of its own on Sunday night.

Baltimore Colts defensive tackle Art Donovan, Class of 1968, died Sunday night of a respiratory ailment at the age of 89.

A larger-than-life personality known as much for his talk as his game, "The Bulldog" helped shape the Colts into a football dynasty during the late 1950s. Along with fellow Hall of Famers Johnny Unitas, Lenny Moore and Raymond Berry, Donovan and the Colts captured consecutive league titles in 1958 and '59.

Donovan was on the original Baltimore Colts team in 1950, and made five straight Pro Bowls heading into 1958. That season culminated in the Colts' victory in the championship game over the New York Giants in what came to be known as "The Greatest Game Ever Played."

"Fatso," as he was affectionately known by others, was much more than a football player. He left his gridiron career at Notre Dame behind in 1942 to become an anti-aircraft gunner with the Marines during World War II. He would earn multiple citations for his service, which included taking part in the invasion of Okinawa.

Donovan is survived by his wife, sister and three children. Always one for humor, Donovan once told The Baltimore Sun that "If my wife don't send me off with a case of Schlitz in the coffin, I'm gonna haunt her."

Let's hope she has some bottles ready.

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