Friday, May 14, 2010

The Death of Lyle Alzado


Lyle Alzado was one of the best-known professional athletes of the 1970s, whose gridiron feats* and telegenic appearance led to various onscreen roles in the 1980s; he terrified Jim Varney in 1987's Ernest Goes to Camp, and even starred in a Canadian-made sitcom called Learning the Ropes in which he played a high school principal with a secret... That he moonlighted as a professional wrestler!

In real life, too, Alzado had a secret - one which finally caught up with him in the early 1990s; far from the first professional athlete to use steroids, he did become the first to own up to it. Whether or not steroid use caused the brain tumour that ultimately claimed his life - which seems unlikely - it did cause him to become violent, shrank his testicles, and played havoc with his liver. In his last months he made television appearances and gave print interviews warning kids about the dangers of steroid use.

He died on this day in 1992, aged 42, and is buried in River View Cemetery in Portland, Oregon.

*Including a victory at Super Bowl XVIII in his penultimate season with the Los Angeles Raiders.
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