Updated: October 14, 2009 at 12:00 am
William Cullen Bryant, a former Mitchell High School, University of Colorado and NFL running back who was a member of the inaugural class of the Colorado Springs Sports Hall of Fame in 2000, passed away Tuesday in his Colorado Springs home, according to sister-in-law Wanda E. Bryant.
Wanda said she believed Cullen died of natural causes and that, unknown by the family, he had been in a doctor’s care. He was 58.
A spokesperson at The Springs Funeral Services would not comment until hearing more from family members.
Bryant was a consensus All-American at CU in 1972 and played 11 seasons with the L.A. Rams and two with the Seattle Seahawks in the NFL. He was picked in the second round (31st overall) of the 1973 draft by the Rams.
Wanda said Bryant was divorced and has two sons and a daughter. The family was waiting for his children to arrive to distribute a death notice and the coroner’s office was closed at night. Attempts to reach The Springs Funeral Services at night failed.
“He was a loving father and loved his kids and spent as much time with them as he could,” Wanda said. “He was a good and loving brother-in-law.”
Bryant also made an impact off the field. Cullen fought for his right to have a say in how and where he would be traded, according to Wanda. He took the case to court and won. From that point forward the players were allowed to act on their own behalf as free agents, she indicated.
“He was a pioneer in his efforts to bring about change in the NFL and how players were treated,” Wanda said.
Cullen was a 6-foot-1, 234-pound running back. In the NFL he ran 849 times for 3,264 yards and 20 touchdowns. He caught 148 passes for 1,176 yards and three scores. He was with the Rams from 1973-1982 and again in 1987 and was with Seattle from 1984-84, according to CU records.
He also played basketball at Mitchell.
When Bryant went into the Springs Hall he said: "Since I've been to the Super Bowl, this is the greatest event I've ever been associated with,"
He was born in Fort Sill, Okla., on May 20, 1951.