PORTLAND, Ore. -- Lyle Alzado, the brawling defensive lineman who played in two Super Bowls and two Pro Bowls during a 15-year NFL career, died Thursday of inoperable brain cancer. He was 43.
Alzado died at 8:28 a.m. PDT at his home in Portland, officials at the Oregon Health Sciences University Hospital said. His wife, Kathy, was at his side and said he died peacefully.
'It was very peaceful,' said Dr. Thomas DeLoughery, Alzado's attending physician. 'He had all his faculties until the end, he was at home with his wife, always interacting and truly enjoying sports, particularly the basketball playoffs.'
Alzado was discharged from the hospital April 23 after going through aggressive chemotherapy treatments and being treated for pneumonia, a common complication of chemotherapy.
'He had recovered from his pneumonia when he left the hospital and was really enjoying life,' Dr. DeLoughery said.
The ex-football star's doctor announced in April 1991 that Alzado was suffering from the cancer shortly after a Los Angeles County marshal -- a 5-foot-5, 110-pound woman -- alleged that Alzado assaulted her when she tried to serve legal papers on him at his Southern California home.
He had been diagnosed three weeks before the April 16 incident.
Alzado was featured in the July issue of Sports Illustrated in a cover story headlined, 'I Lied.' In the article, he acknowledges using steroids and human growth hormones throughout his career.
Alzado, looking somewhat gaunt and his hairless head swathed in a bandana in a picture in the magazine, blamed the drugs for his cancer. However, his doctor Robert Huizenga said at the time there was no evidence linking steroids to his condition.
Dr. DeLoughery added that while there are no known cases of steroids causing the type of large brain tumor Alzado had, steriods have caused other cancers.
'I can't say conclusively one way or the other,' the doctor said. 'But this should really cause people to look at other people who have used anabolics and see what strange effects do occur. People have not been as honest as Mr. Alzado and ... there's a gap in our knowledge.'
'I don't think anybody knows what those high doses and combinations do over a period of time,' said Deloughery, referring to the amount of steroids the former Raider admitted taking. 'It was a very unusual tumor.'
Alzado was always an imposing sight -- whether dirty, bloody and snarling in his black and silver Raiders uniform, or resplendent in a full-length mink coat and towering over his sleek, red Ferrari. He was 6-3 and 265 pounds in his prime, and played for the Denver Broncos, Cleveland Browns and Los Angeles Raiders in a career that spanned 1971- 85.
In a game often likened to warfare, the All-Pro defensive end was a warrior -- a violent man in a violent game.
'If it takes a street fight to get something done, that's what I'm going to do,' he told UPI in a 1984 interview. 'I don't care what the rules are.
'I am, as you know, an emotional player. Head-slapping, punching ... . It's a violent game.'
The Raiders issued a statement calling Alzado 'a consummate warrior, great friend and an excellent player in a long line of excellent Raider players. The Raiders were always gratified that in the late years of his great career he wore the silver and black. Our hearts go out to his family, his wife Kathy and his son Justin. Our friend will be missed.'
There were no rules against steroids when Alzado started his NFL career, and the drugs probably helped make Alzado mean and nasty. In 1986, a man claimed Alzado jumped into his car and beat him up. The man sued Alzado and the Raiders, alleging the team gave Alzado drugs that made him more aggressive and violent and increased his size.
Alzado fought on the field, in the streets, and even in the ring. He was a Golden Gloves champion and fought an eight-round exhibition in 1979 against Muhammad Ali, but decided against becoming a pro boxer.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., to a hard-drinking, brawling Spanish-Italian father and a Jewish mother, Alzado came out of tiny Yankton (S.D.) College and began his NFL career as a fourth-round draft choice of Denver in 1971. He spent seven years with the Broncos, helping them to the Super Bowl in 1978. Alzado played in the Pro Bowl after the 1977 and 1978 seasons.
Traded to Cleveland, he played three seasons for the Browns before signing with the Raiders in 1982 in another of owner Al Davis's vaunted rescue operations involving players thought to be past their primes.
The Raiders had a reputation as a bunch of tough, intimidating misfits, and one NFL coach reacted to the union of Alzado and the Raiders as 'the perfect marriage -- the kind they make in hell.'
Alzado became an integral part of a Raiders defense that helped them win the Super Bowl in 1983.
Suffering with an Achilles tendon injury, Alzado retired in 1986, two weeks short of his 37th birthday. Davis called him '... one of the greatest players ever to wear silver and black.'
After opening a nightspot in West Hollywood, he attempted a comeback in 1990 at age 41 but was released in training camp.
Alzado's first wife, Cynthia, sued for divorce in 1985, accusing him of failing to pay support for her or their son, Justin Alexander, in the four months since they had separated.
Alzado remarried in March 1991, just a short while before his illness was diagnosed. It was Kathy who insisted that the doctors re-examine him after a series of dizzy spells were blamed on a virus.
Hospital officials said Alzado's family planned to hold a private memorial service Friday in Portland and asked that contributions in his honor be sent to charities that serve disadvantaged or disabled children.
Alzado's death was the third to strike the Raiders since June 1989. John Matusek, a defensive lineman in the Alzado mold from 1976-82, died in his Los Angeles home June 17, 1989, of a heart attack caused primarily by what was ruled an accidental overdose of a prescription painkiller.
Safety Stacey Toran was killed two months later in an alcohol-related car accident in Los Angeles at the age of 27.