A former star receiver for the Chicago Bears football team, Harlon Hill, died Thursday at age 80, the Associated Press reports. A graduate of Florence State Teachers College, now known as the University of North Alabama, Hill played in the NFL for nine seasons.
He was picked in the 15th round of the 1954 draft by the Chicago Bears, winning the very first Jim Thorpe Award, as the league’s most valuable player, in 1955. After playing with the Bears until 1961, he then spent a short amount of time with both the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Detroit Lions.
In 1986, the NCAA awarded the Harlon Hill Trophy for the first time, recognizing football’s Division II player of the year. His death was confirmed by Jeff Hodges, chairman of the National Harlon Hill Award Committee.