Artie was a true character

Artie was a true character
August 4, 2013, 11:15 pm
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Art Donovan passes away at 89

Art Donovan represented both football and Baltimore. And he did it in such an unusual and unique way. He loved both the game and life, and fell in love with this city. Over 50 years after he retired from the Baltimore Colts, all you had to do was say the name "Artie" in this town and most sports fans still knew the subject.

That's why there's already been so much reaction in the media and on social media tonight when Donovan died at the age of 89. He was one of a kind, something both unusual and unbelievable.

Donovan boasted that rare mixture of humor and telling the truth. He was blunt and bold, saying what he darn well pleased and not really caring what you thought. I interviewed him a few times and learned that lesson. But I left the interviews laughing each time.

In fact, "laughing" is the key word. When you talked about Artie, you'd be laughing at some point. His personality came across as both unusual and powerful -- that's why so many people noticed and remembered him. How could you not?

He could talk with Johnny Carson and David Letterman and make those comic geniuses laugh just as easily as people here in Baltimore. He was just a people person and everyone loved him. Even though he wasn't from here, Artie became a true Baltimorean and a major part of this city.

What many people forgot is that he earned a spot in the Hall of Fame as one of the greatest defensive linemen ever. He was a big reason the Colts won the NFL titles in 1958 and 1959. But in the end, most people got to know and appreciate Donovan for his wonderful personality that had nothing to do with football.

It will be impossible to gauge how much he'll be missed in Baltimore.