Former NFL RB, college star Junior Coffey dies at 79

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Former Atlanta Falcons running back and college star Junior Coffey has died.

He was 79.

Coffey later became a horse trainer after his football career. The Thoroughbred Daily News reported he died Monday of congestive heart failure.

Coffey was an honorable mention All-American at Washington in the collegiate ranks and was one of the stars of the 1963 team that reached the Rose Bowl before losing to Dick Butkus-led Illinois.

Coffey missed the Rose Bowl with a broken foot.

The Texas native initially wanted to play for a Southwest Conference school but the league wasn’t integrated, so he selected Washington. He led the Huskies in rushing in 1962 (581 yards) and 1964 (638) and finished with 1,604 in three seasons.

He later rushed for 2,037 yards and 10 touchdowns with three NFL teams between 1965-71.

He also caught 64 passes for 487 yards and five scores.

Coffey was a seventh-round draft pick by the Green Bay Packers in 1965 and played sparingly.

The Falcons selected him in the expansion draft prior to the 1966 season and he rushed for exactly 722 yards and four touchdowns in each of the next two seasons.

He caught a combined 45 passes.

He missed the 1968 season with a knee injury and totaled 511 rushing yards in 1969 while splitting the season between the Falcons and New York Giants.

He finished his career in 1971 with the Giants.

Coffey became a horse trainer in the state of Washington. According to the Thoroughbred Daily News, he won 174 races at Emerald Downs south of Seattle, including eight stakes races.

“Junior Coffey was one of a kind in so many ways,” Emerald Downs founder Ron Crockett told the publication. “He was an accomplished athlete, a talented horse trainer, a philosopher, a friend to many and most of all kind hearted. He was a trailblazer.”

Coffey’s final race as a trainer was a winning effort in September 2018.

–Field Level Media

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