On a weekend where the Pro Football Hall of Fame inducted seven new members, it also lost one. Art Donovan, a 1968 Hall of Fame inductee, died in Baltimore on Sunday at the age of 89, the Baltimore Ravens announced.
"We lost a friend, one of the finest men and one of the greatest characters we were fortunate to meet in this community and in this business," Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Biscotti said in a statement. "Baltimore is now without one of its best and someone who was a foundation for the tremendous popularity of football in our area. The world is not as bright tonight because we lost someone who could make us all smile."
Colts owner Jim Irsay tweeted out his sentiments.
Art Donovan..RIP..what a colorful,big-hearted man n Baller! Tremendous contributor to early building of the greatest league n all of sports— Jim Irsay (@JimIrsay) August 5, 2013
Donovan spent 12 seasons in the NFL and won two world championships with the Baltimore Colts, where he spent most of his career. As a rookie in 1950, Donovan broke into the league with the Colts. After the original Colts franchise folded, Donovan spent the next two seasons playing for the New York Yanks and the Dallas Texans.
"I helped kill three teams," Donovan said of his first three seasons in the league, via the Baltimore Sun.
In 1953, Donovan returned to Baltimore to play for the new Colts franchise, a moved that worked out for all involved. Donovan spent the final nine years of his career in Baltimore, winning world titles with the Colts in 1958 and 1959.
Donovan was tough, something his Colts Hall of Fame teammate Gino Marchetti could attest too, "One game, he and [49ers tackle] Don Campora were going at it, calling each other an s.o.b.," Marchetti said. "All of a sudden, Artie gave him a shot and I looked over there and Artie had a whole handful of the guy's teeth. The referee came over but didn't do anything because when Campora tried to tell him what Artie had done, he couldn't talk right."
Despite his numerous on-the-field accomplishments, Donovan may actually be known better for what he did off-the-field. And what he did off-the-field was tell entertaining stories about his days on-the-field.
Affectionately nicknamed 'Fatso,' Donovan appeared on both Late Night with David Letterman and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Fatso would entertain people with stories of his drinking, his eating and his football career.
Donovan also joked about something else once: his death. "If my wife don't send me off with a case of Schlitz in the coffin, I'm gonna haunt her."