Allen Park, Mich. – Lions Legend Mike Cofer, a former Pro Bowl linebacker who ranks second in Lions history with 62.5 career sacks, passed away yesterday at the age of 58.
STATEMENT FROM FORMER LIONS HEAD COACH WAYNE FONTES:
“I was truly blessed to have had the chance to coach Mike. He had such tremendous character. When you heard people talking about a player who always gave 100 percent, it was Mike. He epitomized that type of effort and gave it every time he took the field. Mike was very well-liked and respected by his teammates and certainly by me and our coaches. My prayers and love go out to Mike’s family.”
STATEMENT FROM LIONS LEGEND AND FORMER TEAMMATE BENNIE BLADES:
“Mike Cofer was the biggest, kindest man I had ever met at that time in my career. He showed me how to be a complete player in the NFL. He was as unselfish of a player that you could meet – a linebacker that would do what was needed at the expense of individual accolades. But his demeanor off the field was the same way – unselfishly kind.”
STATEMENT FROM LIONS LEGEND AND FORMER TEAMMATE ERIC HIPPLE:
“Mike was the definition of the perfect football player. His attitude matched his ability and he gave 100 percent in everything he did. The same goes for his care and attention for fellow players, fans and people in general. He brought smiles and joy to those he interacted with and was not only a great player, but also a wonderful man. We can all learn from him and he will be missed.”
STATEMENT FROM LIONS LEGEND AND FORMER TEAMMATE CHRIS SPIELMAN:
“Mike was the perfect teammate. He taught me how to be a pro. His effort and practice habits set the standard for me not only in my rookie year, but for my entire career. He was an inspiration to me and his uncompromising spirit was reflected in how he played. God bless Mike and his family.”
Cofer played his entire 10-year career (123 games) with the Lions from 1983-92 after being selected by the team in the third round of the 1983 NFL Draft. He is the only linebacker in team history to produce at least 8.0 sacks in a season, a feat he accomplished four times.
Cofer helped lead the Lions to a division title in 1983 and was a member of the 1991 team that appeared in the NFC Championship game. He was named to the Pro Bowl following the 1988 season.
A native of Knoxville, Tenn., he starred at the University of Tennessee from 1979-82 and was named First-Team All-SEC as a senior in 1982.
Cofer is survived by his wife, Reba, and sons, Michael and Phil.