Former Bucs offensive guard Ray Snell, the team’s first-round pick in 1980 who spent six seasons in the NFL, died Tuesday of cancer, his son Shannon confirmed.
A former local code-enforcement officer who still resided in Tampa, Mr. Snell was 63.
The 22nd overall pick in the 1980 draft out of Wisconsin, Mr. Snell started 35 games and two playoff contests for the Bucs from 1980-83. He was traded to Pittsburgh following the 1983 season and started six games for the 1984 Steelers team that reached the AFC title game.
The following season, in an early December game in San Diego, he removed his helmet visor when it became sweaty, only to suffer a blowout fracture around his right eye. His career essentially ended there.
After retiring, Mr. Snell perpetuated his football career somewhat vicariously through his two sons. Decked in his old pads and Steelers helmet, Mr. Snell put Shannon — a middle-school honor student afraid of playing football — through seven grueling days of a simulated NFL training camp with older sibling Ray Jr. at a Tampa middle school.
Shannon evolved into a Parade All-America offensive lineman at Hillsborough High and three-year starter at left guard for the University of Florida from 2001-03. Ray Jr. walked on at UF and played extensively at fullback for two years (2001-02).
Mr. Snell, who later served as an assistant coach at Jefferson, is survived by his sons and nine grandchildren. He becomes the Bucs’ second former first-round draft pick to pass away this month. Keith McCants, the No. 4 overall pick in 1990, died in St. Petersburg on Sept. 2.
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