Gino Marchetti, one of the most dominant and feared defensive linemen in the NFL when he played for the Baltimore Colts during the 1950s and ’60s, has died at the age of 92.
One of his nicknames was “Gino The Giant.” He was a 6-foot-4, 245-pound defensive end who sparked terror in the hearts of offensive linemen, quarterbacks and probably coaches also throughout his 14 NFL seasons, mostly because of his tough pass-rushing abilities.
After fighting in World War II and going to college, Marchetti began his career with the Dallas Texans in 1952 before that team folded, which helped make him a Baltimore Colt. He was a big help to the Colts during their early years, being picked as the best defensive end during the first 50 years of the NFL and earning 11 straight Pro Bowl selections.
Marchetti made All-NFL teams from 1956-64. He became such a good pass-rusher that teams often would double- and triple-team him. But he still caused trouble and often found a way to get to the quarterback and wreak havoc.
He was a tough, fierce, physical iron man, who was always there for the Colts on defense. But strangely enough, an injury Marchetti suffered might have helped the Colts win the NFL title during the famous 1958 NFL title game.
The New York Giants were trying to convert a third-and-4 late during the game while clinging to a 17-14 lead. Frank Gifford tried to run, and Marchetti helped make the tackle — but wound up breaking his leg on the play. It took the officials some time to spot the ball, because they waited until the trainers carried Marchetti off the field, and the spot they gave New York left the Giants just short.
That was a controversial point of the game, which was debated for years. It opened the door for Johnny Unitas to lead the Colts on his famed drive during the final two minutes, as Baltimore tied the game and forced overtime. Marchetti made the trainers put him down on the sidelines so he could get an idea of what was happening.
Marchetti retired after the 1966 season and became a successful businessman in the fast food business. Gino’s, Marchetti’s restaurant chain, was almost as popular in the Baltimore area during the ’60s and ’70s as the man himself was on the football field.
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