Legendary Chicago Bears linebacker Joe Fortunato passed away on Monday at his home in Mississippi at the age of 87, according to a report from Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune.
Fortunato spent 12 seasons with the Bears from 1955-1966 and was one of the great linebackers of his generation, making the NFL All-Decade Team for the 1950s on the back of three first-team All-Pro selections and five Pro Bowl nods. He intercepted 16 passes and recovered 22 fumbles in his career, helping lead the Bears to a 1963 NFL Championship.
However, playing alongside Bill George, Fortunato went relatively under the radar. He is the only member of that All-Decade Team who isn’t a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Originally a seventh-round pick at the 1952 NFL Draft, the Mississippi State product didn’t actually enter the NFL until 1955 because of a military commitment. After his playing career was over, Fortunato went on to spend two seasons as a Bears coach, as well.
According to an obituary appearing in the Clarion-Ledger, services for Fortunato took place on Thursday morning. He has been laid to rest at the Natchez City Cemetery in Natchez, Miss.
The obituary didn’t list any next of kin for the former Bears linebacker.
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