Raider radio commentator Bob Chandler, who had a 12-year NFL career as a wide receiver after playing at USC, died Friday after a four-month battle with cancer. He was 45.
After Chandler, a nonsmoker, complained of a nagging cough, a rare strain of the disease was discovered in his lungs in September. He continued to work on Raider broadcasts while undergoing chemotherapy treatment at the USC Norris Center.
He was admitted to the Norris Center on Wednesday and died there at 11:50 a.m. Friday.
An avid golfer who carried a 3-handicap, Chandler fulfilled one of his dreams when he made a trip to Augusta to play golf for three days in early December. He was invited by Peter Ueberroth and Jim Nordstrom.
Despite his weakened state, he broke 80 all three days, with a best of 76.
Not only was Chandler a star wide receiver at USC and with the Buffalo Bills and Raiders, he was one of the best all-around high school athletes to play in Southern California.
At Whittier High in the late 1960s, he was All-CIF in football and basketball and was one of the country’s top high school decathletes. He high-jumped 6 feet 7, and pole-vaulted more than 13 feet, but probably his most impressive feat was putting the 12-pound shot 57 feet.
He weighed 175 pounds, about five pounds less than his playing weight as a pro.
At USC, Chandler was a captain and the team’s leading receiver as a senior. He played in two Rose Bowl games and was MVP of the 1970 game. He scored the game’s only touchdown on a 33-yard pass from Jimmy Jones in the third quarter of a 10-3 victory over Michigan.
Chandler was drafted in the seventh round by the Bills and played nine seasons with them. He caught more than 60 passes in 1976 and ’77.
Chandler was a teammate of O.J. Simpson’s at USC in 1968, and the two played seven seasons together in Buffalo.
Chandler was one of the first people to visit Simpson on June 13, hours after the bodies of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman were found.
Chandler was a regular visitor of Simpson’s in jail, usually going there two or three times a week. The visits continued even after Chandler became ill.
“We weren’t best friends, but we always had tremendous respect for each other,” Chandler said recently.
He was traded to Oakland in April 1980 for linebacker Phil Villapiano and caught four passes for 77 yards in the Raiders’ Super Bowl XV victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. Chandler retired after the 1982 season because of a knee injury.
After his football career ended, he worked in broadcasting and also was involved in the hotel business and other ventures with close friend Leo Hart, a former backup quarterback for the Bills.
Chandler’s broadcasting career included working as a football commentator for NBC, as a local sports reporter for Channel 7, as the co-host of Channel 2’s “2 on the Town” and as host of a popular ESPN show, “Amazing Games.” He worked with Joel Meyers and Mike Haynes on Raider broadcasts the last two seasons.
Chandler, born in Long Beach on April 24, 1949, grew up in Whittier and lived in Pasadena in recent years.
Besides his wife Marilyn, Chandler is survived by his children Marisa, 17, Justin 11, and Emma Lyn; parents Gene and Barbara Chandler of Whittier, and sisters Catherine George, 47, of Whittier and Ellen Edinton, 36, of Laguna Beach.
Funeral arrangements are pending at the Rose Hill Mortuary in Whittier.