Jon Arnett, star college and NFL running back, dies at 85

NFL

LOS ANGELES (AP)Jon Arnett, one of Southern California’s greatest running backs who went on to become a five-time Pro Bowl player for the Los Angeles Rams, has died. He was 85.

USC said Monday that Arnett died Saturday of heart failure in Lake Oswego, Oregon.

Arnett earned the nickname ”Jaguar Jon” for his acrobatic agility and elusiveness running the ball that he honed as a youth gymnast. He lettered at USC from 1954-56. He earned All-American and All-Pacific Coast Conference first-team honors as a junior. He received the Voit Trophy as the West Coast’s most outstanding player.

In 1955, Arnett led the Trojans in rushing (672 yards), total offense (822 yards), scoring (108 points), kickoff returns (418 yards) and punt returns (282 yards). He also completed 12 passes for 150 yards.

As a senior co-captain playing just half of the 1956 season, Arnett rushed for 625 yards and led the Trojans in scoring (43 points). He played in the College All-Star Game, East-West Shrine Game and Hula Bowl.

Arnett still ranks in USC’s career top 25 lists for rushing (1,898 yards), punt returns (430 yards) and kickoff returns (430 yards). He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2001.

The Rams made Arnett the second pick of the 1957 NFL draft and he played with the team until 1963. He was a Pro Bowl selection in his first five years and was an All-Pro in 1958 when he led the NFL in punt return yardage. He still holds the Rams’ record for longest kickoff return (105 yards).

Arnett played for the Chicago Bears from 1964-66.

He and his wife, Jane, founded the Retired Professional Athlete Association in 2005 to advocate on behalf of retired football players and their families.

Besides his wife, he is survived by son Matt, and daughters Kristen and Kimberly.

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