Former Oregon Ducks standout and NFL quarterback, Bob Berry, dead at age 81

April 22, 2023

A former NFL quarterback who was a star player at the University of Oregon, Bob Berry, passed away on Wednesday at the age of 81, The Oregonian reported.

No cause of death was given for the California native who set records as the Ducks' signal-caller, was an inaugural member of the UO Athletics Hall of Fame, and spent a dozen years playing at the top of his profession in the NFL.

University of Oregon star

The Oregonian reported that Berry was the starting quarterback for the Oregon Ducks from 1962-64 and led the team to a winning record over that span of 21-6-1.

He was notable as the school's first quarterback to throw for more than 1,000 yards in two seasons and set school records that lasted until the 1980s with 16 touchdown passes in 1963 and a career total of 39 touchdown passes.

Berry also threw for a career total of 4,297 yards at Oregon and was honored as an All-American player during the 1964 season.

The outlet further noted that Berry was honored as a distinguished alumnus of UO in 1985, was inducted in 1987 into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame, and was an inaugural inductee of the UO Athletics Hall of Fame in 1992 in recognition of his accomplishments during his collegiate career.

Successful NFL career

According to The Oregonian, Berry was actually drafted by two different teams in two different professional football leagues in 1964 -- an 11th-round pick of the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles and a 26th-round pick of the AFL's Denver Broncos -- but decided to stay at Oregon and play his senior year.

The NFL's Minnesota Vikings organization extended its condolences to Berry's family following his death on Wednesday in his home state of California.

That team had traded the Eagles for Berry's draft rights and signed the star college player as a backup quarterback to legendary starter Fran Tarkenton to begin the 1965 season.

Berry played for the Vikings for three seasons from 1965-67 before he was traded to the Atlanta Falcons, where he played for five seasons from 1968-72 before being traded back to the Vikings, where he played for four more seasons from 1973-76. He also played in three Super Bowls with the Vikings.

Over the course of his 12-year NFL career, Berry started 54 games and threw for 9,179 yards with a pass completion percentage of 56.4, threw 64 touchdowns and 64 interceptions, and was sacked a total of 186 times. He also rushed 109 times for a total of 409 yards and four touchdowns during that span.

Former teammate laments the loss of "great person" and "closest friends"

According to the Vikings, Berry joined the team in 1965 alongside North Dakota University running back Dave Osborn, who said of Berry, "Bob was just a great person and one of my closest friends as teammates."

"He was a great fit for our team at that time," he continued. "None of us were heroes; we prided ourselves on being smart players who didn't make mistakes and played tough. That was Bob, for sure."

"We roomed together at camp and for years after that. He was as close a friend as I had on the team. I'm sorry to hear he's gone. He will be missed," Osborn added.

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