The Hall of Fame announced Dean's death Thursday ,a day after he died. Dean's former teammate, Dwight Hicks, posted Oct. 8 on social media that Dean was on a ventilator and in intensive care due to COVID-19.
"The entire Pro Football Hall of Fame family mourns the passing of Fred Dean," Hall of Fame president David Baker said in a statement. "He exemplified many of the values learned from this great game -- commitment, integrity, courage -- over the course of his life.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with Fred's wife, Pam, and their entire family. We will forever keep his legacy alive to serve as inspiration for future generations. The Hall of Fame flag will be flown at half-staff in Fred's memory."
"I'm so heartbroken," Dean's former Chargers teammate Hank Bauer wrote Thursday on Facebook. "Fred was a dear friend and teammate.
"Spent his last years as a minister in his hometown of Ruston, La. Rest in peace, my friend. Hall of Fame life lived!"
Dean was born in Arcadia, La. He played ball at Ruston High School and starred at Louisiana Tech. The Chargers then selected Dean in the second round of the 1975 NFL Draft.
Dean went on to become a four-time Pro Bowl selection, a two-time All-Pro and a two-time Super Bowl champion. He was traded to the 49ers in 1981 and teamed up with Joe Montana, Ronnie Lott and other franchise legends to win championships in 1982 and 1985.
Dean played from 1975 through 1985. He had 17.5 sacks in 1983 and 28 quarterback takedowns for his career, but the statistic didn't start being recorded until the 1982 season. Dean appeared in 141 games.
The star defensive end was enshrined into the Hall of Fame in 2008.