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Ron Jessie, 57; Ex-Ram Receiver Played 11 Seasons in the NFL

January 17, 2006|Mike Terry | Times Staff Writer

Ron Jessie, a former Pro Bowl wide receiver who played 11 seasons in the National Football League with the Los Angeles Rams, Detroit Lions and Buffalo Bills, has died. He was 57.

Jessie died Friday after having a heart attack in his Huntington Beach home, his son Brandon said.

Jessie joined the Rams in 1975 after being traded by Detroit for a first-round pick in the 1976 draft.

Over the next five seasons he was a solid No. 2 receiver alongside such Ram notables as Harold Jackson and Preston Dennard.

His best year was 1976, when he caught 34 passes for 779 yards, scored six touchdowns and was named to the National Football Conference Pro Bowl team.

He was a member of the Rams' 1980 Super Bowl team, but did not play in the game lost to Pittsburgh because of injuries.

Born in Yuma, Ariz., on Feb. 4, 1948, Jessie starred in football and track at Yuma High School and Imperial Valley College in El Centro, Calif.

He transferred to the University of Kansas in 1969 and continued to excel in both sports.

In two seasons, Jessie ran the ball 138 times for 619 yards, caught 33 passes for 644 yards and returned 35 kickoffs for 793 yards. He scored five touchdowns.

Also in 1969, Jessie earned All-America recognition as a long jumper. He was the national indoor long-jump champion, and part of the Kansas indoor team that won the 1969 U.S. Track and Field Federation national championship.

Jessie was an eighth-round draft selection of the Dallas Cowboys in 1971. He was traded during training camp to Detroit, where he played the next four seasons.

Jessie played his final two seasons in Buffalo, leaving the league after the 1981 season. He had 138 career receptions for 4,276 yards and scored 30 touchdowns.

In addition to his son Brandon, Jessie is survived by his wife, Sharon; a daughter, Felicia; and another son, Ron Jr.

Funeral services are scheduled at 2 p.m. Saturday at Harbor Lawn-Mt. Olive Memorial Park and Mortuary in Costa Mesa.

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