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Fred Dean

Fred Dean

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Frederick Rudolph "Fred" Dean (born February 24, 1952) is a former American football
American football
American football is a sport played between two teams of eleven with the objective of scoring points by advancing the ball into the opposing team's end zone. Known in the United States simply as football, it may also be referred to informally as gridiron football. The ball can be advanced by...

 player in the National Football League
National Football League
The National Football League is the highest level of professional American football in the United States, and is considered the top professional American football league in the world. It was formed by eleven teams in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association, with the league changing...

, and a member of the NFL Hall of Fame. His career started with the San Diego Chargers
San Diego Chargers
The San Diego Chargers are a professional American football team based in San Diego, California. they were members of the Western Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League...

 in 1975 and ended with the San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers
The San Francisco 49ers are a professional American football team based in San Francisco, California, playing in the West Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League . The team was founded in 1946 as a charter member of the All-America Football Conference and...

 after the 1985 season. Dean was born in Arcadia
Arcadia, Louisiana
Arcadia is a town in and the parish seat of Bienville Parish in north Louisiana, United States. The population was 3,041 at the 2000 census....

, the seat of Bienville Parish in north Louisiana
Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

. His family moved twenty miles west to Ruston
Ruston, Louisiana
Ruston is a city in and the parish seat of Lincoln Parish, Louisiana, United States. The population was 20,546 at the 2000 census. Ruston is near the eastern border of the Ark-La-Tex and is the home of Louisiana Tech University. Its economy caters to its college population...

, where he graduated from Ruston High School
Ruston High School
Ruston High School is a 4 year public high school located in the Lincoln Parish School District of Ruston, Louisiana, United States. The school has an enrollment of approximately 1200 students with 85 faculty members; the mascot is the bearcat. The school colors are red and white. Black students...

.

College career


Dean was a standout at Louisiana Tech University
Louisiana Tech University
Louisiana Tech University, often referred to as Louisiana Tech, LA Tech, or Tech, is a coeducational public research university located in Ruston, Louisiana. Louisiana Tech is designated as a Tier 1 school in the national universities category by the 2012 U.S. News & World Report college rankings...

 in Ruston, having spurned an opportunity to play for legendary coach Eddie Robinson at nearby Grambling State University
Grambling State University
Grambling State University is a historically black , public, coeducational university, located in Grambling, Louisiana. The university is the home of legendary football coach Eddie Robinson and is on the Louisiana African American Heritage Trail.-Academics:Grambling State University provides over...

, which at the time was sending African American
African American
African Americans are citizens or residents of the United States who have at least partial ancestry from any of the native populations of Sub-Saharan Africa and are the direct descendants of enslaved Africans within the boundaries of the present United States...

 players to the NFL on a yearly basis. Dean excelled as an All-Southland Conference defensive tackle during his collegiate football career at Louisiana Tech.

NFL career


Dean was drafted by the Chargers in the 2nd round (33rd overall pick) 1975 NFL Draft
1975 NFL Draft
The 1975 National Football League Draft was held on January 28–29, 1975.-Player selections:-Round one:-Round two:-Round three:-Round four:-Round five:-Round six:-Round seven:-Round eight:-Round nine:-Round ten:...

. Dean recorded 15½ sacks in 1978. In 1979, the Chargers won the AFC West division while leading the AFC in fewest points allowed (246) and Dean was named to the All-AFC team. The Chargers again won the AFC West in 1980, with Dean teaming with fellow 1975 Charger draftees Gary "Big Hands" Johnson and Louie Kelcher
Louie Kelcher
Louis James Kelcher was an American football player who played most of his career with the San Diego Chargers. His primary position was defensive tackle. His outstanding performance made him one of the team's most popular players from 1975-83...

 as the Chargers led the NFL in sacks (60). Dean and Johnson were named First-team All-Pro
All-Pro
All-Pro is a term mostly used in the NFL for the best players of each position during that season. It began as polls of sportswriters in the early 1920s...

, with Kelcher being named Second-team All-Pro. The trio, along with Leroy Jones
Leroy Jones (football player)
Leroy Jones is a former American football defensive end for the San Diego Chargers in the National Football League.In 1980, Jones teamed with All-Pro's Fred Dean, Gary "Big Hands" Johnson, and Louie Kelcher on the defensive frontline as the Chargers led the NFL in sacks...

 formed a defensive front that was locally nicknamed the Bruise Brothers, coined from a popular act at the time, The Blues Brothers. In 1981, Dean, was traded to the San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers
The San Francisco 49ers are a professional American football team based in San Francisco, California, playing in the West Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League . The team was founded in 1946 as a charter member of the All-America Football Conference and...

 due to a contract dispute with Chargers' ownership. Dean contends he was making the same amount of money as his brother-in-law who was a truck driver. The Chargers' defense would not be the same afterwards, and Don "Air" Coryell's
Don Coryell
Donald David Coryell was an American football coach, who coached in the NFL first with the St. Louis Cardinals from 1973–1977 and then the San Diego Chargers from 1978-1986. He was well known for his innovations to football's passing offense. Coryell's offense was commonly known as "Air Coryell"...

 Chargers teams are now most remembered for its high-scoring, pass-oriented offense that did not have enough defense to make it to a Super Bowl.

Dean was acquired mid-season by the 49ers and eventually helped them win two Super Bowl
Super Bowl
The Super Bowl is the championship game of the National Football League , the highest level of professional American football in the United States, culminating a season that begins in the late summer of the previous calendar year. The Super Bowl uses Roman numerals to identify each game, rather...

s in the 1980s. His first game as a 49er was a key match-up against the Dallas Cowboys
Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys are a professional American football franchise which plays in the Eastern Division of the National Football Conference of the National Football League . They are headquartered in Valley Ranch in Irving, Texas, a suburb of Dallas...

. Dean played after only a couple of practices and was still able to apply pressure and repeatedly hurried Danny White
Danny White
Wilford Daniel "Danny" White is a former quarterback and punter for the Dallas Cowboys, an American football coach in the Arena Football League and also occasionally appears as an analyst on broadcasts of college football games. He was named the head coach of the Arena Football League expansion...

 when he was not recording one of his 3 sacks, in a game won by the 49ers, 45-14. His first action of the season as a 49er was noted by author Tom Danyluk as "the greatest set of downs I have ever seen unleashed by a pass rusher". In what had been a game of possum, Bill Walsh, the 49er head coach, said to John Madden
John Madden (American football)
John Earl Madden is a former American professional football player in the National Football League, a former Super Bowl-winning head coach with the Oakland Raiders in the American Football League and later the NFL, and a former color commentator for NFL telecasts. In 2006, he was inducted into...

, who covered the game, "Fred (Dean) just got here . . . If he plays, he won't play much".

His next home game for the 49ers was against the Los Angeles Rams. The game was won by the 49ers and the first win against the Rams in Candlestick Park, 20-17, as Dean sacked Pat Haden
Pat Haden
Patrick Capper "Pat" Haden is the athletic director at the University of Southern California. He played quarterback for the USC Trojans before playing professionally in the NFL for the Los Angeles Rams from 1976 to 1981...

 5 times. He ended the season with 13 sacks, 12 with the 49ers and 1 with the Chargers, prior to his trade.

The 49ers would go on to win the Super Bowl that year, and Steve Sabol (NFL Films) is quoted in 2006 as saying that Dean's acquisition was the last meaningful in-season trade, in that it affected the destination of the Lombardi Trophy. Dean that year won UPI NFC Defensive Player of the Year
UPI NFC Player of the Year
From 1970 to 1996, the United Press International awarded the NFC Player of the Year to players from the NFL's National Football Conference .-NFC Offensive Player of the Year:-See also:*UPI AFL-AFC Player of the Year...

 while playing in only 11 games for the 49ers. San Diego's defense collapsed when Dean departed, giving up 40 points in a loss to the Cincinnati Bengals
Cincinnati Bengals
The Cincinnati Bengals are a professional football team based in Cincinnati, Ohio. They are members of the AFC's North Division in the National Football League . The Bengals began play in 1968 as an expansion team in the American Football League , and joined the NFL in 1970 in the AFL-NFL...

 in the regular season, and 65 total points in playoff games vs. the Miami Dolphins
Miami Dolphins
The Miami Dolphins are a Professional football team based in the Miami metropolitan area in Florida. The team is part of the Eastern Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League...

 and Bengals.

"I can't say how much it affected us, because we did make it to the AFC championship game," said Johnson of the Chargers without Dean. "But I could say if we had more pass rush from the corner, it might've been different."

The Charger defense would not return to the top half of the NFL rankings again until the unit was rebuilt in the late 1980s, and the club did not have an effective pass rusher until Leslie O'Neal
Leslie O'Neal
Leslie O'Neal is a former football defensive end who played 13 years in the National Football League for the San Diego Chargers, St. Louis Rams, and the Kansas City Chiefs from 1986 to 1999....

 was drafted in 1986
1986 NFL season
The 1986 NFL season was the 67th regular season of the National Football League. The season ended with Super Bowl XXI when the New York Giants defeated the Denver Broncos to win their first league title in 30 years.-Major rule changes:...

.

In 1983 Dean recorded 17 sacks to lead the NFC and recorded a then-NFL record of 6 in one game, setting that mark during the 49ers’ 27-0 shutout of the New Orleans Saints
New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans Saints are a professional American football team based in New Orleans, Louisiana. They are members of the South Division of the National Football Conference of the National Football League ....

 on November 13, 1983. The 17 sacks was a Dean career high, bettering his 1978 total of 15½ with the Chargers. He followed that 1978 season by adding nine sacks in 1979 and 10½ in 1980. He had recorded 6½ sacks as a rookie in 1975. Dean's career sack total, with his unofficial numbers included, is 93.

Dean was also a key player on the 49ers 1984 Super Bowl
Super Bowl
The Super Bowl is the championship game of the National Football League , the highest level of professional American football in the United States, culminating a season that begins in the late summer of the previous calendar year. The Super Bowl uses Roman numerals to identify each game, rather...

 team, mostly used as a situational pass rusher. During the 1984 season, Dean was reunited with his Charger teammate, Johnson.

Dean is a member of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame
Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame
-Inductees:Official Hall of Fame Portraits created by Chris Brown 2009–present-External links:* website...

. On August 2, 2008, Dean was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
Pro Football Hall of Fame
The Pro Football Hall of Fame is the hall of fame of professional football in the United States with an emphasis on the National Football League . It opened in Canton, Ohio, on September 7, 1963, with 17 charter inductees...

. He was inducted at the enshrinement ceremony where his bust, sculpted by Scott Myers
Scott Myers
Scott Myers is an American painter and sculptor who lives and works in Texas. He graduated Texas A&M University in 1984 with a doctorate in veterinary medicine. He studied sculpture throughout Italy focusing on Florence, Venice and Rome. Sculpting in Tuscany, he cast his work in bronze at the...

, was unveiled. In 2009 Dean was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame
College Football Hall of Fame
The College Football Hall of Fame is a hall of fame and museum devoted to college football. Located in South Bend, Indiana, it is connected to a convention center and situated in the city's renovated downtown district, two miles south of the University of Notre Dame campus. It is slated to move...

.