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Joe Bellino (1938 - 2019), Navy’s first Heisman Trophy winner

(Bettmann / Getty Images)

Played for the Boston Patriots in the AFL

Joe Bellino won the coveted Heisman Trophy in 1960, the first Navy football player to win the award. He was an all-purpose dynamo for Navy that season on the field, rushing for 834 yards, catching 15 passes, punting for an average of 47.1 yards, returning punts and kickoffs, and starting on defense. Though Navy lost to Missouri that year in the Orange Bowl, Bellino made a spectacular diving catch in the end zone. He served five years in the Navy and then played three years in the AFL for the Boston Patriots.

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Died: Wednesday, March 27, 2019. (Who else died on March 27?)

Details of death: Died at the age of 81 from stomach cancer.


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He was honored when the Academy named an auditorium after him: “As long as there’s a Naval Academy, there’ll be a Bellino Auditorium, and that is touching.” – Bellino told the Boston Globe in 2003

What they said about him: “Joe was my first hero and football inspiration. His standard of excellence was a great example for me.” – Friend and New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichik said in a Navy press release

“Joe inspired everyone who knew him, and always found time to share his wonderful personality and embracing smile.” – Navy Academy athletic director Chet Gladchuck Jr.

Full obituary: Boston Globe

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