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Pitt Football Great, College Hall of Famer Bill Fralic has died

The legendary offensive lineman has passed away at age 56 from cancer

Bill Fralic Getty

Bill Fralic, the former Penn Hills Indian, Pitt Panther, and Atlanta Falcon has died at the age of 56.

Bill Fralic was a three time All-American for Pitt, and was the #2 overall pick by the Atlanta Falcons in the 1985 NFL draft. His #79 jersey was retired by Pitt during his last home game as a player against Tulane (How badass is that?). He finished in the top 10 of Heisman voting twice, was part of the inaugural WPIAL Fall of Fame, and was named to Pitt’s first Hall of Fame class in September. He was selected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1998.

Even his opponents revered him. After Pitt’s 1983 game against Notre Dame DL Eric Dorsey, he had this to say:

“It’s [playing against Fralic] something I can tell my kids 30 years from now,” said Notre Dame defensive lineman Eric Dorsey. “I’ve read so much about him; it’s like playing against a god. When you think of Pitt, you think of Bill Fralic.”

If you’ve ever heard the term “pancake” for a play by an offensive lineman, you can thank Bill Fralic.

Fralic’s collegiate career led to the phrase “Pancake Block” being added to the football lexicon. Pitt publicists used “Pancakes” as a statistical barometer for each time Fralic put an opposing defensive lineman on his back.

He went on to play 9 years in the NFL, spending 8 years with the Falcons and one year with the Detroit Lions. He was a four time Pro Bowler as well.

Just last week, Fralic made news after he paid for the entire Penn Hills football team and staff to stay overnight at Hershey for the state championships. Penn Hills won the state title.

Pitt Football Head Coach Pat Narduzzi and Pitt Athletic Director Heather Lyke both offered their thoughts on Fralic:

“Bill Fralic was not only an all-time player at the University of Pittsburgh, but also an all-time human being,” Pitt head football coach Pat Narduzzi said. “His generosity, support and concern for others was unmatched. For as hulking a figure as he was, Billy was even larger in his kindness and passion for others. He leaves a wonderful legacy that goes well beyond football at Pitt, Penn Hills and all of Western Pennsylvania. Our hearts and prayers are with his wife, Susan, and all of his loved ones.”

Heather Lyke:

”Bill is truly one of the iconic figures in the history of Pitt Athletics,” Director of Athletics Heather Lyke said. “He set a tremendous standard for our current generation of student-athletes, not only as an athlete but also for what he went on to accomplish once his playing days concluded. Bill’s reputation for giving back might even transcend his Hall of Fame football career. He was a passionate supporter of Pitt and Penn Hills. Our deepest sympathies to his wife, Susan, and his many loved ones and friends.”

Our condolences go out to his family and friends. The legacy he left behind will live on.