TAMPA — Three-time Pro Bowl linebacker John Reger, who starred for the Steelers and Redskins in the 1950s and '60s, died Thursday in Tampa. He was 82.
Mr. Reger's daughter, Kathy, confirmed his death Saturday in an email to the Associated Press.
A native of Wheeling, W.Va., Mr. Reger played at the University of Pittsburgh and made the Steelers as an undrafted rookie in 1955. He forged a 12-year career as one of the finer two-way players in the NFL, making the Pro Bowl from 1959-61. The 6-foot, 225-pounder spent nine seasons with the Steelers, from 1955-63, then three with the Redskins.
Late in the 1960s he moved from Pittsburgh to Tampa, where he and his wife, Janice McCray, owned the Dam Shanty.
When his college career was ended by a knee injury in 1951, he returned to Wheeling and was working at a gas station when his high school coach arranged a tryout with the Steelers. Despite having spent three years out of football, he made the team and was a starter in 1955.
During his final season with Pittsburgh, Mr. Reger was seriously injured in a game against the Eagles. He was hit in the head and had a spasm in his throat that cut off air. An ambulance was sent with oxygen, and he was revived, and after that the league required teams to have oxygen on the sideline.
Mr. Reger intercepted 15 passes during his career, including three each in 1964 and 1966 while playing for Washington. He retired at the end of the 1966 season with 20 career fumble recoveries and two defensive touchdowns.
An obituary in the Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register said he is survived by his daughter, Kathy Reger of Tavares; son, John G. Reger Jr., and his wife, Karin, of Gainesville; sisters, Susie Reger Downing, Virginia Reger Maxwell, Blanche Reger Kaminski, all of Wheeling, W.Va., and Cassi Reger Doyle of Corinth, Texas; grandchildren, John, Emily, and Natalie; step-grandchildren, Justin, Kyle, Jeremy, and Emily; and great-grandson, Rylan.