Phil Croyle, a former first-team All-Pac-8 defensive tackle for Cal who went on to play three seasons in the NFL, died Saturday after a battle with cancer. He was 70.

Croyle was a resident of San Jose, where he served as a firefighter, eventually rising to rank of battalion chief before retiring.

A native of Great Lakes, Illinois, Croyle grew up in the Bay Area and attended Arroyo High School in San Lorenzo. He played for Cal from 1968 through ’70 and starred alongside future All-American defensive lineman Sherman White.

Selected by the Houston Oilers in the seventh round of the 1971 NFL draft, Croyle was moved to linebacker in the pros. He played 32 games with the Oilers and Buffalo Bills over three seasons, starting seven times for Houston in 1972.

Former Cal football player Phil Croyle and wife Cheryl

Phil and Cheryl Croyle

Croyle remained a passionate Cal football fan and regularly attended home games at Memorial Stadium. He and his wife Cheryl enjoyed spending time in their condo on Maui.

He was interested in languages, spoke fluent German and recently was learning Greek.

“Phil was a sweet, kind, caring, interesting and learned man and he will be sorely missed,” his long-time friend Dino Vournas wrote on Facebook.

Croyle is survived by wife Cheryl, children Alicia and Zac, and four grandchildren.

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