A Star Offensive Lineman
Bill Fralic was a star offensive lineman who played for the Atlanta Falcons and the Detroit Lions in the National Football League (NFL) from 1985 to 1993. He was drafted by the Falcons in the first round with the second overall pick in the 1985 NFL Draft, after a stellar college career at the University of Pittsburgh. He was a four-time Pro Bowler, a two-time All-Pro, and a member of the NFL 1980s All-Decade Team. He was known for his strength, agility, and technique, as well as his trademark “pancake block”, which flattened his opponents.
A Crusader Against Steroids
Bill Fralic was also one of the first players to speak openly about the pervasiveness of performance-enhancing drugs in sports, especially in the NFL. He testified before the U.S. Senate in 1989, exposing the widespread use of steroids and human growth hormone among his peers. He also advocated for stricter testing and penalties for drug users, and criticized the NFL for its lack of action and transparency. He was praised for his courage and honesty, and became a role model for clean athletes.
A Tragic and Private Battle with Cancer
According to his sister Rachel Day, Bill Fralic died on December 13, 2018, in Atlanta, Georgia, after a battle with cancer. He was diagnosed with the disease earlier that year, and underwent treatment at the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University. He kept his condition private, and only informed his close friends and family. He did not reveal the type or stage of his cancer. He was 56 years old.
A Legacy of Excellence and Integrity
Bill Fralic’s death was mourned by his family, friends, former teammates, coaches, and fans. He was remembered as a great player, a great person, and a great leader. He was also honored for his contributions to the game of football, and his efforts to make it safer and fairer. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1998, and his number 79 jersey was retired by the University of Pittsburgh in 2014. He was also nominated for the Pro Football Hall of Fame several times, but never made the final cut.
Bill Fralic’s cause of death was a tragic loss for the NFL and the sports world, but also a testament to his courage and integrity. He will be missed by many, but his legacy will live on.