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Ex-Rams Player Woodley Lewis Dies

January 1, 2001

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Former Los Angeles Rams defensive back Woodley Lewis, who led the NFL with 12 interceptions as a rookie in 1950, has died of kidney and heart problems, his wife said. He was 76.

Lewis, who died Friday in a Los Angeles hospital, played with the Rams from 1950-55 before being traded to the Chicago Cardinals. He also played with the Dallas Cowboys before finishing his career in 1961.

``Not only was he an excellent football player, he was an authentic human being and a great community leader once he left football,″ former teammate Dan Towler said Monday. ``He gave a lot of his time to youth organizations in South Central Los Angeles, and left his mark.″

Lewis, Towler, Paul ``Tank″ Younger, Bob Boyd and Harry Thompson, who played for the Rams’ 1951 NFL championship team, remained close.

``He could really play,″ Younger said. ``We’ll all miss him.″

During Lewis’ six years with the Rams, he was also a kick returner as well as a defensive back. Between 1950 and 1960, he gained 1,026 yards on punt returns. Only one man had more punt return yardage during that time _ Hall of Famer Emlen Tunnell.

Lewis, a graduate of the University of Oregon, also played at wide receiver and running back in his NFL career. He caught 123 passes for 1,885 yards and 12 touchdowns during his career.

Lewis is survived by his wife, Mitzi; two children, and one grandson.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

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