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pakowitz 05-07-2003 03:56 PM

Former LSU quarterback Woodley dies

Former LSU and Miami Dolphins quarterback David Woodley died Sunday, passing away quietly the way he lived most of the last 20 years since he played in sports' biggest spotlight.

Woodley, 44, died of liver and kidney failure at a hospital in his native Shreveport, his niece, Lucy Woodley, told The Associated Press. He underwent a liver transplant in 1992.

"I'm just saddened by it," said Auburn assistant football coach Steve Ensminger, who shared LSU quarterbacking duties with Woodley in the late 1970s. "To have gone through such a tough time with all the operations and the medicine, I just can't imagine it."

A product of Byrd High School in Shreveport, Woodley lettered at LSU from 1977-79 before being drafted by the Miami Dolphins.

In 1983, Woodley became the youngest quarterback at that point to start a Super Bowl, leading the Dolphins in their 27-17 loss to the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl XVII. A year later, Woodley was traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers where he played a year before retiring.

Woodley later moved back to Shreveport in 1990. He worked in physical education, sold jewelry and was a radio commentator for Byrd football games last season. Woodley was inducted into the school's hall of fame in 1995.

While at LSU, Woodley quarterbacked the Tigers with Ensminger. Together they took LSU to three consecutive bowls and won 23 games.

Woodley was the MVP of late LSU coach Charles McClendon's final game, the 1979 Tangerine Bowl against Wake Forest. Woodley scored twice in the first quarter on rushes of 13 and 3-yards and then completed a 50-yard pass to Carlos Carson and a 19-yard touchdown throw to Jerry Murphree to give LSU a 21-0 lead with 3:28 to go in the first half. The Tigers went on to win 34-10.

In his LSU career, Woodley completed 151-of-310 passes for 2,081 yards and eight touchdowns. Known for his running ability, Woodley rushed for 833 yards and 15 touchdowns as a Tiger.

Woodley was an eighth-round draft pick by the Miami Dolphins in 1980. During his four years with the team he replaced future Hall of Famer Bob Griese, started in a Super Bowl and lost his job to another future Hall of Famer, Dan Marino.

Woodley showed a strong but erratic arm as a pro. He threw 42 interceptions and 34 touchdown passes with the Dolphins.

"For a receiver, David wasn't the easiest guy to play with," said Jimmy Cefalo,his former roommate at Miami. "He had as strong an arm as anybody I played with. He could throw it through a house, but he didn't have the ability to turn it down a notch. It got so I wouldn't warm up with him before games because he'd hurt my hands."

Woodley became a starter in Griese's final season. The following year, Shula alternated Woodley and Don Strock, a better passer but less mobile quarterback, and together they became known as "Woodstrock."

"It caused some problems for the defenses, because they had to prepare for two different styles of offense," Strock said. "David and I understood what Shula was going to do, and the combination was successful. When you have success, it's hard to beef about it."

The Dolphins went 11-4-1 that year and won the AFC East. The next season, abbreviated by a strike, they went 7-2 and reached Super Bowl XVII.

Miami led Washington 17-10 at halftime, but Woodley went 0-for-8 in the second half, and the Redskins rallied to win.

Dan Marino was the Dolphins' top pick in the 1983 draft, and by October he was the starter. Shula traded Woodley to Pittsburgh in 1984.

In his four seasons in Miami, Woodley threw for 5,928 yards and 508 completions. He holds the Miami rookie record for most pass completions (176), ahead of both Dan Marino (173) and Griese (166).

At the time of his trade Woodley was the highest-paid player in Steelers' history, signing a three-year deal for $700,000 per season.

"I spent four years with Miami as the lowest-paid quarterback in the NFL," Woodley said at the time. "I was the third-lowest paid quarterback in the NFL when I played in the Super Bowl. I've had my time."

Woodley didn't have much time with the Steelers, though. After one season he was done with professional football.

Shula, Strock and Cefalo said they hadn't talked to Woodley in years.

"It wasn't for a lack of trying," Cefalo said. "David was an unusual guy. He didn't open up much. He was never driven by money or fame. He wasn't a typical professional football player. He wouldn't do endorsements. 'When you do that, they own you,' he'd say."

Ensminger said his relationship with Woodley was similar.

"I talked to David a few times when I was coaching at Louisiana Tech," Ensminger said. "And I kept up with him through other people. But David was never a very talkative person."

Visitation for Woodley is set for 4:30 p.m. Thursday, followed by a vigil service at 6 p.m. The family has planned a private funeral at a later date. Woodley is survived by six brothers and sisters.

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