Joe Fortunato: Chicago Bears former star linebacker dead at 87

By Alex Butler  |  Nov. 10, 2017 at 5:54 PM
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Nov. 10 (UPI) -- Former Chicago Bears linebacker Joe Fortunato died Monday. He was 87-years-old.

Fortunato was a seventh-round pick by the Bears in the 1952 NFL Draft. The VMI and Mississippi State product spent his entire 12-year NFL career with the Bears. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 1958, 1962, 1963, 1964 and 1965. Fortunato was named an All-Pro three times.

The defender did not join the Bears until the 1955 season due to military commitment. Fortunato has 16 interceptions and 22 fumble recoveries in 155 career games. After retiring, he spent to seasons as an assistant for the Bears. He worked as linebackers coach in 1967 and defensive coordinator in 1968.

The Bears released a statement on his passing Thursday.

"Joe Fortunato was not only a great player for the Chicago Bears, including being a part of our 1963 championship at Wrigley Field, he was a key figure in one of the greatest linebacker trios in Bears history alongside Hall of Famers Bill George and Larry Morris," Bears chairman George H. McCaskey said in a statement. "The Chicago Bears family extends our condolences to the Fortunato family on the passing of Joe."

Fortunato died in Mississippi.

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