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Ex-Redskin Sample Passes Away

Johnny Sample, a defensive back who was on the winning side in two of the NFL's landmark games, died Tuesday. He was 67.

Sample played for the Redskins from 1963-65, but he is better known as a player for the Baltimore Colts and New York Jets.

Sample had an interception for the Jets in their 16-7 upset of the Colts in the third Super Bowl in 1969. That game, for which the Jets' Joe Namath "guaranteed" victory, established the old AFL on a par with the NFL after the two leagues had merged.

Earlier, Sample played for the Colts in the 1958 NFL championship game against the New York Giants that is still often described as "The Greatest Game Ever Played." The Colts won 23-17, the first game to go to overtime.

"He will always have a special place in Jets' history as a member of the Super Bowl championship team," Jets coach Herman Edwards said. "The Jets and the NFL community have lost a friend in Johnny Sample."

In all, Sample played 11 seasons for the Colts, Pittsburgh Steelers, Redskins and the Jets. The 1958 title game was as a rookie and the 1969 game was his last.

"His participation in two of the most significant games in NFL history, the 1958 championship game and Super Bowl III, symbolized the champion John was," Colts owner Jimmy Irsay said.

Known as a fierce hitter from his cornerback position, he had 41 interceptions during his career, returning four for touchdowns, and also returned one punt and one kickoff for a TD.

In 1965, his final year with the Redskins, Sample tied Paul Krause for the team lead in interceptions with six. In his final year with the Jets, he had seven interceptions.

Born in Philadelphia, he attended Overbrook High School at the same time as Wilt Chamberlain and played in college at Maryland State, which later became Maryland-Eastern Shore.

WBC middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins said he knew Sample for 18 years.

"He was a standup, speak-his-mind kind of guy," Hopkins told the AP in a phone interview. "It's like getting hit with a right hand that you can't shake off. He is my best older, elder friend."

Redskins.com's Gary Fitzgerald contributed to this report.

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