Reggie Roby: Former Dolphin dead at 43

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Former Dolphins punter Reggie Roby, known for his towering kicks, died Monday morning at home in Nashville, Tenn., where he lived with his third wife, Melissa, and four children.

Born Reginald Henry Roby in Waterloo, Iowa, on July 30, 1961, Roby was a three-time Pro Bowl punter.He played 16 years in the NFL, 10 for the Dolphins from 1983-92. He was 43.

The cause of death has not been released. Foul play is not suspected, according to Nashville Police Information Officer Don Aaron.

However, Roby's family has asked for an autopsy to be performed.

"I was saddened to hear about Reggie Roby," said former Dolphins coach Don Shula.

"He had one of the most strong, powerful legs in the history of the NFL."

Shula, who selected Roby out of Iowa in the sixth round of the 1983 draft, said the punter's "booming kicks often helped us win the field-position battle.

"On walkthroughs in domed stadiums the day before the game, he always would try to hit the top of the dome with a punt. He sometimes succeeded.

"Reggie helped define the position, and even after he retired, every time I saw a long, high punt, it always reminded me of one of his kicks."

According to the police report, Roby was found on the floor by his wife, unconscious and without a pulse, at approximately 7:30 a.m. CST.

Paramedics were unable to revive Roby.

He was taken to Saint Thomas Hospital and pronounced dead at 8:35.

Roby, a massive man with tree-trunk thighs, was listed at 6 feet 2, 245 pounds, but his Coral Springs-based attorney and close friend, Scott Salomon, said the punter's usual playing weight was closer to 265.

"Reggie never worried about numbers on a scale," Salomon said.

"Reggie was a big man, an imposing figure. There will never be a punter ... as good as Reggie from the pure mechanics and athletic standpoint."

Roby's parting from the Dolphins wasn't amicable.

Despite being signed for a then-record high (for a punter) average of $455,000 per year over three seasons, Roby had gone through most of his money, spent on failed marriages and business dealings.

Roby also had two children with his first wife, Carla -- daughter Brittany, 18, and son Bry, 16.

Randall Kaspar, Roby's agent at the time, advised him to file for bankruptcy in hope of getting his contract voided so he could become a free agent.

Instead, the Dolphins waived Roby before the 1993 season, opting for Dale Hatcher.

Roby went on to play for the Redskins, Buccaneers, Oilers and 49ers before retiring in 1999.

He led the AFC in 1991 with an average punt of 45.7 yards.

Roby has the second highest punting average by a Dolphin (43.3 yards) and the longest punt (77 yards on Nov. 29, 1987, against the Bills). Matt Turk tied that mark in 2001.

Roby averaged a franchise-high 58.5 yards on four punts in a 1986 game against the 49ers.

His former Dolphins teammates said they were saddened and shocked.

"It's very tough when you talk about Reggie White, then you talk about a teammate that passed away at 43," said former Dolphins linebacker Bryan Cox, who played with Roby in the 1991 and 1992 seasons.

"It makes you worry about your health and your mortality."

Former quarterback Dan Marino, who broke in with Roby in 1983, was clearly shaken.

"He was a great Dolphin, and it's hard to take, especially for a guy so young like that," Marino said.

"A normal punter? No. He was known for his hang time and the big punts, so everybody's going to miss Reggie."

Roby started a cookie company in 2001 -- Reggie's Cookies -- but it failed as did many of his other financial ventures.

After a failed comeback bid with the Eagles in 2003, Roby relocated his family to Nashville last year, where he had began to rebuild his portfolio in the mortgage financing industry.

He was also the marketing director for Backfield in Motion, a nonprofit group mixing athletics and academics to help inner-city boys.

"Underneath that strength of a professional athlete, Reggie was just a kid at heart," said Michael Brown, Backfield in Motion's chief executive officer.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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