LOS ANGELES -- Don Shinnick, who played 13 years at linebacker for the Baltimore Colts and served as a linebacker coach for the New England Patriots' 1986 Super Bowl team, died Tuesday at a rest home in Modesto, Calif., of a degenerative brain disease. He was 68.
From 1957 to 1969, Mr. Shinnick had 37 career interceptions with the Colts, still an NFL record for a linebacker. He played on the Colts' championship teams of 1958 and 1959. The 1958 game, in which the Colts defeated the New York Giants, 23-17, in sudden-death overtime, is considered by many the greatest game in NFL history.
After retiring as a player, he served as an assistant coach with the Chicago Bears, St. Louis Cardinals, and Oakland Raiders. In 1985, he came to the Patriots, hired by Raymond Berry, Patriots head coach and Mr. Shinnick's teammate on the Colts.
As a Patriots coach, Mr. Shinnick had a talented cadre of linebackers, including Steve Nelson and Andre Tippett. Mr. Shinnick, who lived in Walpole then, was let go when Rod Rust became head coach in 1990.
Born in Kansas City, Mo., Mr. Shinnick grew up in San Pedro, Calif. He played on UCLA's 1954 national championship team and was a second-round draft choice of the Colts in 1957.
He was the first UCLA Bruin to play in a Super Bowl, when the Colts lost to Joe Namath and the New York Jets in 1969, the first time a team from the AFL had won the Super Bowl.
Mr. Shinnick was inducted into the California Community College Sports Hall of Fame in 1995 for playing and coaching at Los Angeles Valley College.
For the last six years, he had been struggling with frontal lobe dementia, a condition similar to Alzheimer's disease.
He leaves his wife, Marsha, and sons Joel, Josh, Peter, Adam, and Chris.