CHANDLER, Okla. (AP) James ''Jimbo'' Elrod, an All-American defensive end who played on Oklahoma's 1974 and 1975 national championship teams, died in a car wreck Monday, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol said. He was 62.
The single-vehicle crash happened at about 3:45 a.m. on Interstate 44 near Chandler, about 60 miles southwest of Tulsa. The patrol said Elrod was killed after his 2015 Lexus struck a guardrail, ejecting him through the vehicle's sun roof. A preliminary report says Elrod was not wearing a seatbelt and that a passenger was taken to an Oklahoma City hospital in serious condition. According to the school, the passenger was his wife, Diana.
''This is a very sad day for the OU football family,'' Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. ''Jimbo was an All-American player and person, a great friend of our program who loved his Sooners. He was a true joy to be around, and we will miss him dearly. We wish Diana the absolute best in her recovery and are praying for Jimbo's entire family on this extremely difficult day.''
Elrod was also a member of Oklahoma's 1974 national champion wrestling team.
''Great wrestler and a great football player,'' said Barry Switzer, who coached those championship football teams. ''Wrestling is what made Jimbo such a great football player. It gave him great upper-body strength and quickness. He could really run. He was a tenacious player and a competitor. He was really good and he was a member of a great group at Oklahoma.''
Elrod played three years in the NFL with the Kansas City Chiefs and one with the Houston Oilers.
In his younger days, he left quite an impression when he walked into the room.
''Jimbo has always been an 18-year-old guy to me because that's what he was when I signed him,'' Switzer said. ''He always had movie-star looks and a lot of hair. I was always jealous of his hair. Everybody was.''
It's the second fatal crash this year in Oklahoma involving a football standout. In October, former NFL defensive lineman Dennis Byrd died in a two-vehicle wreck on an Oklahoma highway.
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