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Published: Wednesday, 11/28/2007

Bill Willis, OSU legend NFL Hall of Famer, dies


COLUMBUS - Bill Willis, a Hall of Fame guard with the NFL's Cleveland Browns who also was Ohio State's first black football All-American, died last night, an Ohio State spokesman said. He was 86.

Willis had been battling a short illness, said school spokesman Steve Snapp, who was notified of the death by one of Willis' sons. No other details were released.

Willis, an All-American in 1943 and 1944, had his No. 99 jersey retired at halftime of the Wisconsin-Ohio State game on Nov. 3 at Ohio Stadium.

He had a distinguished career with the Browns (1946-53), helping to break the color barrier in professional football.

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