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Ex-Bear Sprinkle dies

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014 12:16 a.m. CDT

PALOS HEIGHTS – Ed Sprinkle, a star defensive end for the Chicago Bears in the 1940s and '50s who was called the "meanest man" in football, has died. He was 90.

He died July 28 in the Chicago suburb of Palos Heights, daughter Susan Withers said.

Sprinkle played for the Bears from 1944 to 1955 under coach George Halas, including the 1946 championship team. Sprinkle was elected to the Chicago Sports Hall of Fame in 1984.

"He loved playing football, and his whole career he never went to another football team," Withers said.

Despite being only 200 pounds, Sprinkle was labeled the "meanest man" in football in a Collier's magazine article in 1950. He was nicknamed "The Claw" for using his forearm to deliver blows to opponents. He leveled plenty of quarterbacks, although it was hard to say how many because he played long before such statistics were kept.

"He said in one game he knows he had five sacks," Withers said.

Sprinkle served with the U.S. Navy. He went into the carpeting and tile business after football and also owned a bowling alley. He stayed active with the NFL, playing in charity golf outings.

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