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Teammate Eulogizes Ex-Raider Matuszak

June 21, 1989|From Associated Press

OAK CREEK, Wis. — A close friend and teammate of John Matuszak said at the ex-football player's funeral today that he will remember the tearful discussions the two men shared more than the sport they played together.

Matuszak, an Oak Creek native, died after suffering heart failure Saturday in Burbank at the age of 38. About 600 people attended a funeral service at the Catholic church that Matuszak attended as a child.

The service was marked by eulogies from friend Mickey Marvin and Raiders managing general partner Al Davis.

Matuszak played with the Raiders from 1976 to 1981, before the team moved from Oakland to Los Angeles. He played on two Super Bowl champion teams.

Marvin, Matuszak's roommate for four years, said his own family loved Matuszak, as did the children at a North Carolina camp that the two men ran.

"He was so precious to those children," Marvin said.

'A Charismatic Pride'

Marvin said he will remember the many late-night talks he had with Matuszak. "We got down on our knees together many times," he said.

Davis said Matuszak "wore those colors (the Raiders' colors) with poise, and he wore those colors with a charismatic pride."

Matuszak's dedication and devotion to the Raiders' organization has earned him a place in the team's history, even though he likely will not be enshrined in the National Football League Hall of Fame, Davis said.

Davis recalled an incident that illustrated Matuszak's free-wheeling side.

The 6-foot-9, 280-pound defensive lineman once approached a California tavern with a teammate while the two were wearing their uniforms. Davis reprimanded the two, and the next time he saw them, the two were headed to the tavern wearing tuxedoes.

An autopsy is being conducted in Los Angeles to determine the cause of Matuszak's death.

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