Doug Kotar

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Doug Kotar
No. 44
Date of birth (1951-06-11)June 11, 1951
Place of birth Canonsburg, PA
Date of death December 16, 1983(1983-12-16) (aged 32)
Place of death Pittsburgh, PA
Career information
Position(s) Running back
Height 5 ft 10.50 in (179 cm)
College Kentucky
Career history
As player
1974–1981 New York Giants
Career stats
Rushing yards 3,380
Receiving yards 1,022
Games 90
Touchdowns 21

Douglas Alan Kotar (June 11, 1951 – December 16, 1983) was an American football running back for the New York Giants of the National Football League. Kotar went to Canon McMillan High School.


He was signed as an undrafted free agent out of University of Kentucky by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Four days later, they traded him to the Giants in 1974 (for Leo Gasienica), which is where he played for eight years. Harry Carson once described him as "a fighter you'd like to have with you in a foxhole,". Though he was only 5'10, Kotar rushed for 3,380 yards (while also receiving 1,022 yards) in his career, which was fourth most in Giants history. Today, he is now 9th. Kotar was known for leading with his head while rushing, a fact that would come back to haunt him in later life.[1]

Retirement and later death[edit]

Kotar retired after the first days training camp of the 1982 season, attributed to his knees and shoulder hurting, citing his family. Unfortunately, Kotar experienced massive headaches. After concerns by his family, he had a CAT scan. Only weeks into his retirement, the doctors found a brain tumor. Kotar decided to go through with invasive surgery that involved opening his skull up. However, the doctors found that the tumor was malignant, and it could not be removed. By this point, his savings were wiped out due to the medical treatments.

It was said that the 1982 NFL strike was in part because of Kotar, who had become a symbol of what happened as a result of playing football. But Kotar could not obtain his medical records due to the collective bargaining agreement at the time. The owners wanted to give insurance benefits only for his knee and shoulder problems, not his tumor.

Kotar would later experience partial paralysis and was moved to his hometown, undergoing radiation treatment over the next few months. Only four months before his death, he was visited by 45 Giant players, officials, and coaches. Carson later stated he was going to visit Kotar again as soon as the season ended, but he never got to as he died just 16 months after diagnosis. He was 32 years old.[2]

He had 2 young children at the time of his death, Christie Kotar and Douglas Kotar.[3]