MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — John "Bull" Bramlett, a former professional football and baseball player who was nicknamed the "Meanest Man in Football," has died. He was 73.
Shelby County Mayor's Office spokesman Steve Shular told The Associated Press that family members say the Memphis native died early Thursday. Shular said Mayor Mark H. Luttrell was close to Bramlett, who had been in declining health. Terry Richards, funeral director of Memorial Park Funeral Home in Memphis, confirmed his death.
Bramlett was a star baseball and football player at Memphis State University, now the University of Memphis.
He was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals out of college and played minor league baseball for three years before changing to pro football. He signed in 1965 with the Denver Broncos, which at that time were part of the American Football League.
He also played for the Miami Dolphins (1967-68), Boston (now New England) Patriots (1969-70) and Atlanta Falcons (1971) and, according to the website of a ministry he later founded, was a two-time all-pro linebacker. He was runner-up to Joe Namath for American Football League rookie of the year in 1965, the ministry said.
Because of his on-the-field aggressiveness and his antics off the field, Bramlett was given his nickname. But he changed his behavior when he retired from football, becoming a Christian evangelist.
According to John Bramlett Ministries' website, "Bull" spent 40 years speaking to hundreds of churches, schools, prisons and conventions, as well as NFL and MLB chapel services.
"Indeed, he inspired many people as a professional football player," Mayor Luttrell said in a statement. "Yet ... John's stories of forgiveness and hope through his Christian witness made a real difference in the lives of countless people throughout the nation and here in Shelby County.
"John Bramlett was ... a dear friend. I'm grateful for having known him and his family."
John Bramlett Ministries: http://bramlett.org/