When Baltimore lost football great Art Donovan in August at the age of 89, he was remembered not just as a feisty defensive tackle for the Baltimore Colts—helping the team to world championships in 1958 and 1959—but as a self-effacing funnyman whose popularity far outlived his NFL career.

For years after hanging up his cleats, the beefy Pro Football Hall of Famer, who also spent single seasons with the New York Yanks and Dallas Texans in an 11-year career, appeared on the talk-show circuit, telling humorous tales of the NFL’s good old days, as he put it, “When men were, well, men.”

Donovan’s father was famous fight referee Arthur J. Donovan Sr., who was in the ring at 19 of Joe Louis’s title fights. When the younger Donovan left the tough New York neighborhood of his youth, he fought in World War II and played college football at Notre Dame and Boston College.

“Baltimore is now without one of its best.” —Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti.