Bob Avellini’s Cause of Death: Former Bears QB is No More


Bob Avellini, ranked in the top 10 of the Bears’ all-time throwing yards and led the team to the postseason in 1977, passed away at 70. Bob Avellini, a 70-year-old thrower of one of the most well-known passes in Bears history, passed away from cancer.

Bob Avellini’s Cause of Death:

Bob Avellini, the Chicago Bears quarterback throughout some of Walter Payton’s best seasons and a 1977 postseason run with the team, has away. He was seventy.

According to a team official, Avellini had been battling cancer when he passed away. In the same class that produced Payton, the Bears selected Avellini in the sixth selection of the 1975 NFL draft from Maryland. Avellini is a native of Queens, New York City. Avellini began the final four games of his rookie year, leading the New Orleans Saints to a 42-17 victory at the end of the season with passes of 268 yards and three touchdowns.

Avellini’s Experience:

After the season, Avellini gained experience and was named the team’s starting quarterback in 1976. During that 7–7 campaign, Avellini passed for 1,580 yards, eight touchdowns, and fifteen interceptions.

His best season was in 1977 when the Bears finished 9-5 and shared first place in the NFC Central with the Minnesota Vikings. In addition to having the finest season of his career, Avellini passed for a career-high 2,004 yards with 11 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. Payton also set personal records with 1,852 running yards, 14 touchdowns, and a 5.5 per-carry average.

However, the Dallas Cowboys destroyed the Bears 37-7 in the postseason, and Avellini was replaced by Mike Phipps—a player the Bears had traded a first-round selection to acquire—after the team had a 4-8 start in 1978.

Avellini played for the Bears through the 1984 campaign, starting just three more games while making 24 appearances overall. In the second quarter of a Sept. 16, 1984, game at Lambeau Field, he replaced the injured Jim McMahon, and the Bears held on to defeat the Green Bay Packers 9–7. The Bears lost 38-9 in Seattle the following week when Avellini began, which prompted the team to cut him.

Between coach Mike Ditka and the seasoned quarterback, there wasn’t much love lost.

“He’s such a great competitor, it gets a little tiring,” Avellini said to media upon his release. “Many coaches are fierce competitors, like Joe Gibbs of the Washington Redskins, Tom Landry of the Cowboys, and many more, but none of them exhibit the same level of behavior as Ditka.

“I wasn’t shocked to be cut. That was the threat (Ditka) made to me once a week. He believes that will improve your game. I was the only quarterback who could play, so he told me he would cut me after my first season pass against Green Bay. He desired to remove me and replace me with someone unaware of our snap count. Ditka answered back.

“The quarterbacks we currently have here are better than Bob in the long run for the Bears,” he declared. He had too much ambition. He attempted to stray from our offensive, which is just not possible. In a game against the Seahawks, you don’t go out and try to throw a 5-yard pass when our running back, Payton, averages 5.7 yards per rush.

“He fulfilled all our requests, and I found several qualities endearing in him. But the most common question on my radio appearances was, “Why do you keep Avellini?” Here, I can’t play him. The spectators would cruelly jeer at him. It’s true, and I don’t want to take it as a way out. It’s common for people to place the quarterback at fault and give him excessive credit.

Long after Avellini’s playing career ended, the Bears faced the dilemma of their quarterback receiving excessive praise or criticism. After being released by the Bears, he played briefly with the New York Jets and the Cowboys during the 1986 preseason before he retired.

Avellini was found guilty of aggravated drunk driving in 2014 and given an 18-month jail term by a DuPage County court. Since 2002, it was his sixth DUI arrest.

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