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Tuesday, June 10, 2008 - Page updated at 07:45 AM

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Former OU All-American Tom Catlin dies

TULSA, Okla. —

Tom Catlin, a two-time All-American at the University of Oklahoma and former defensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks, has died. Catlin was 76.

Catlin died Saturday at a hospice in Seattle from complications stemming from a recent surgery, said his brother, Charles Catlin, of Broken Arrow.

Catlin played center and linebacker at OU from 1950-1952 after earning All-State accolades in 1949 as a senior at Ponca City High School.

A member of OU's 1950 squad that won the national championship under head coach Bud Wilkinson, Catlin was named all-conference three times and earned All-American honors in 1951 and 1952. He was co-captain with quarterback Eddie Crowder during his senior year.

"Tom Catlin was one of the very special players," Crowder told the Tulsa World from his home in Boulder, Colo. "He had such a wide range of talents that were uncommon. As a center, he and I were pretty closely related.

"We were also just close friends and co-captains of the team, so you have additional time you spend together with that. I found him one of the unique people because he was a very quiet personality. Not a rah-rah guy. And very intelligent."

Catlin was selected in the fourth round of the 1953 draft by the Baltimore Colts. He was traded to Cleveland and played for the Browns in 1953-54, then, following his ROTC commitment at Oklahoma, served in the Air Force as a pilot from 1955-57.

Catlin returned to the Browns in 1957-58 before finishing his playing career a year later with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Catlin had even greater success in the NFL as an assistant coach, working first for the Dallas Texans and Kansas City Chiefs, then the Los Angeles Rams, Buffalo Bills and Seattle Seahawks.

He was assistant head coach and defensive coordinator for the Seahawks, where he coached from 1983-1995.

He retired from the NFL in 1996 and recently had been ill with Parkinson's disease, Charles Catlin said.

Charles Catlin said he's disappointed his brother never was selected for the College Football Hall of Fame.

"He got nominated a time or two but didn't get voted in," Charles Catlin said. "It bothers me, but time marches on. We've got new ones every year."

Tom Catlin is survived by his wife, Betty, daughter Kimberly Ekdahal and son Thomas Jr., four grandchildren and brother Charles.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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