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Carl Weathers was a sports movie icon with an NFL history

Carl Weathers had a little bit of everything to offer sports fans.
The famed actor died on Thursday at the age of 76, his family said, having passed in his sleep.
“Carl was an exceptional human being who lived an extraordinary life,” his family said in a statement. “Through his contributions to film, television, the arts and sports, he has left an indelible mark and is recognized worldwide and across generations. He was a beloved brother, father, grandfather, partner, and friend.”
Sports fans of all ages likely know him from his acting roles.
Weathers portrayed Rocky Balboa’s cocky, star-spangled antagonist-turned-pal Apollo Creed in the “Rocky” movie series.
“It was hard to escape taking punches on set,” he told GQ in 2020. “There were times when intentionally we went at each other. I was always concerned that if I hit [Sylvester Stallone], threw a punch right, it might hurt. And there was no reason for that. And I think he was pretty much the same way. But there were times when we did get hit. You know, fatigue and slipping would occur and you’d just go, ‘Wait a minute, man. Another one of those and you’re gonna get something back. And it won’t be fun what I throw back.’”
3 Carl Weathers rose to pop culture fame in ‘Rocky’ as the brash, undefeated champion Apollo Creed. Moviestore/Shutterstock
He turned to comedy in 1996’s “Happy Gilmore,” playing the one-handed golf coach Derick “Chubbs” Peterson to Adam Sandler’s titular character — though he later revealed he dealt with a debilitating spine injury suffered while filming.
“Fortunately, being an athlete and having been injured a number of times, you kind of learn to live with pain, which is not a very good thing,” he said. “Pain is there to tell you something’s wrong.”
Weathers was well-known for his action movies — he was famed for his roles in “Predator” and “Action Jackson” among them — a destiny aided by his background playing football.
3 Weathers employed his comedic chops as Adam Sandler’s one-handed golf guru in ‘Happy Gilmore.’ Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection
“When I found football, it was a completely different outlet,” Weathers told the Detroit News last year. “It was more about the physicality, although one does feed the other. You needed some smarts because there were playbooks to study and film to study, to learn about the opposition on any given week.”
The New Orleans native starred playing football at San Diego State University under Don Coreyll, helping the Aztecs win the 1969 Pasadena Bowl en route to an 11-0 finish as a defensive end.
Naturally, he majored in theatre after having dabbled in plays as a youth.
3 Weathers played five seasons of pro football, two with the NFL’s Raiders. Mark Von Holden/Invision/AP
Acting, however, was put on pause when Weathers signed with the then-Oakland Raiders as an undrafted free agent 1970.
He played in seven games as a rookie as the Raiders went on to the first-ever AFC Championship game.
In 1971, he was converted to strong safety, but was released after playing one game.
He took his talents north, joining the CFL’s BC Lions for three seasons, playing 18 games and attending San Francisco State University in the offseasons to finish a bachelor’s degree in drama.
“Our thoughts are with family & friends of Carl Weathers, former #BCLions Linebacker & beloved Rocky character, Apollo Creed. RIP, Legend,” the BC Lions wrote on X.
After five season of pro football, Weathers turned back to acting in 1973, giving sports fans everywhere plenty to enjoy.

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