The Tragic Death of Former Colts Star Bubba Smith

Before the Indianapolis Colts relocated to Indiana, they played in Maryland and were the Baltimore Colts. One player that had a lot of success playing in Baltimore was Bubba Smith. The defensive end had a lot of success during his time with the Colts.

During his career, he took many shots to the head. In 2011, Smith passed away, and that was a massive blow to the football world.

Bubba Smith was a standout in college

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Before he entered the league, Smith had a lot of success in college. He played at Michigan State University. A native of Texas, he originally wanted to play for the University of Texas. Texas head coach Darrell Royal did not want to offer Smith a scholarship because of the racial segregation in the south.

So Smith decided to attend Michigan State, and he made a good decision to go there. At Michigan State, he was a two-time All-American in 1965 and 1966. During his last football game at Michigan State, Smith played in an exciting game. Michigan State was ranked the No. 2 team in the nation, and they took on Notre Dame, the No. 1 team in the nation. Both teams went into the game undefeated, and the game ended in a 10-10 tie. 

Michigan State finished second behind Notre Dame in the final voting for the national championship. Smith was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, and Michigan State retired his No. 25 jersey in 2006. After a successful college career, Smith put himself in a good position to become a top pick in the NFL draft.

Bubba Smith was the top pick by the Colts in the NFL draft

In the 1967 NFL draft, the Baltimore Colts selected Smith with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. Smith is the only Michigan State player to be selected first overall in the NFL draft. During his second season in 1968, Smith became a starter, and he made an impact on the field. He was a second-team All-Pro selection and helped lead the Colts to the NFL championship.

In his first five seasons with the Colts, he played in two Super Bowls, winning it in 1970 after defeating the Dallas Cowboys. During the 1970 season, Smith was selected to his first Pro Bowl, and he was a second-team All-Pro selection for the second time in his career. He spent five seasons with the Colts, and after not playing during the 1972 season, he was traded to the Oakland Raiders in 1973. Smith spent two seasons with the Raiders, and he played his final two seasons for the Houston Oilers.

Bubba Smith was diagnosed with CTE after his tragic death

After his football career, Smith became an actor. As an actor, he appeared in movies, television, and television advertising. He appeared in many commercials for Miller Lite, and he appeared in the first six Police Academy movies. Smith was also a spokesman for the Baltimore-area law firm Cohen, Snyder, Eisenberg & Katzenberg.

In 2011, Smith was found dead in his LA home by his caretaker. According to an article from, the official cause of death was acute drug intoxication and other conditions. There was an autopsy done on Smith, and the article stated that Smith had the weight-loss drug phentermine in his system. Smith also suffered from heart disease and high-blood pressure, according to the coroner. The article stated that a report noted that Smith’s heart was nearly twice the weight of a normal heart, and some vessels were nearly blocked.

A few years after his death, it was discovered that Smith suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy when he died. In an article from, it stated that researchers at the VA-BU-CLF Brain Bank said Smith had Stage 3 CTE when he passed away at the age of 66. During his career, Smith took many shots to the head as a defensive end, which would have a significant impact on his life.