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Legendary Packers defensive end Willie Davis has died at 85

The Packers family has lost a legendary player, businessman, and gentleman.

Green Bay Packers Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

With the passage of time comes an inevitable truth, and a sad one at that. The Green Bay Packers have lost a legendary player and ambassador for the franchise on Wednesday: Willie Davis has passed away at the age of 85.

The announcement came from the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which enshrined Davis for his playing career in 1981, almost 40 years ago. Davis was a dominant defensive end for the Vince Lombardi-era Packers, and was arguably the top player at his position in his era. During the six-year span from 1962 to 1967, Davis earned five trips to the Pro Bowl and five first-team All-Pro honors. With sacks not becoming an official statistic until well after his retirement, the total number of quarterback takedowns he recorded is lost forever, but some estimates put his totals in the triple digits.

Davis came to the Packers in a trade with the Cleveland Browns, and he was a prominent figure in the team’s locker room. He became the Packers’ first African-American captain and in 1989 he was one of the finalists in the voting to replace Pete Rozelle as NFL Commissioner, a job that went to Paul Tagliabue. Davis also made a name for himself as a businessman after football, owning multiple radio stations and beer distribution networks. He also served for two years in the U.S. Army prior to his NFL career.

Davis leaves behind two children, son Duane and daugher Lori. His grandson Wyatt has followed in Willie’s football footsteps, and is an offensive lineman for Ohio State.