Mel Farr, the former NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year who rushed more than 3,000 yards in seven pro seasons with the Detroit Lions, has died at the age of 70.
Farr, who played the position of running back at UCLA before entering the NFL, finished seventh in the voting for the 1966 Heisman Trophy.
He was drafted in 1967 in the first round by the Lions and ran for 860 yards in 13 games as a rookie. He spent his entire career with Detroit from 1967 to 1973.
“The entire Lions family is saddened by the passing of Mel Farr,” Lions President Tom Lewand said in a statement to the AP on Tuesday. “As both a player and a businessman, Mel was blessed with many talents and a personality to match. His energetic presence in Detroit, both on the field during his playing career and off the field for decades after, was unique and unmistakable. Mel truly lived a life of distinction and will be missed.”
Mr. Farr led Detroit in rushing as a rookie and tallied 197 yards in a game against Minnesota. He scored six touchdowns that season, and also caught 39 passes for 317 yards.
In 1970, Farr rushed for 717 yards, and vastly contributed to the Lions reaching the playoffs for the first time since 1957. Farr was also selected to star in the 1968 and 1971 NFL Pro Bowls.
Farr finished his career in pro sports with 3,072 yards on 739 carries. He would go on to a second career, having opened several dealerships in the Detroit area.
At one point, the former pro athlete owned roughly one dozen dealerships in several states. He appeared in TV commercials wearing a cape, earning him the nickname of “Mel Farr Superstar.”
Remaining close to the Lions decades after his retirement, Farr was a founding member of the Detroit Lions Alumni Association and an active participant in the team’s community and philanthropic initiatives, the Detroit Free Press reports.
Farr also sang backup in 1971 on Marvin Gaye’s hit single, “What’s Going On.”
In addition to his sons, Farr is survived by his wife, Jasmine, and two daughters, Monet and Milan.
Our condolences go out to Mr. Farr’s loved ones at this time.