|BRAD VAN PELT (ap/file 1974)|
Brad Van Pelt, 57; Giants' 5-time Pro Bowl linebacker
OWOSSO, Mich. - Brad Van Pelt, a five-time Pro Bowl player with the New York Giants who helped form one of the NFL's best linebacking corps in the early 1980s, has died. He was 57.
Mr. Van Pelt was found dead Tuesday by his fiancee at his home. He apparently died from a heart attack, the Giants said.
A second-round draft choice out of Michigan State in 1973, Mr. Van Pelt played 14 seasons in the NFL, 11 with the Giants. Although he played on only one winning team in New York, he made the Pro Bowl five consecutive seasons from 1976-1980.
Mr. Van Pelt's only winning season with the Giants came in 1981, when Lawrence Taylor was drafted and the team made the playoffs for the first time in 18 seasons. Mr. Van Pelt played strong-side linebacker, with Taylor on the weak side and Harry Carson and Brian Kelley in the middle of a group called the "Crunch Bunch."
Mr. Van Pelt left the Giants in 1983 and spent two seasons with the Los Angeles Raiders before finishing his career with Cleveland in 1986. He played in 184 regular season games and had 20 interceptions and 24.5 sacks.
"Obviously he was a great teammate, but I consider him more of a very good friend and very much like a brother," said Carson, who like Taylor is a member of Pro Football Hall of Fame.
An All-American safety at Michigan State, Mr. Van Pelt also played baseball and was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals as a pitcher.