Former USC Linebacker David Lewis Dies At 65

David Lewis, an all Pac-8 first team pick in 1974, died Tuesday in Tampa, Fla., after struggling with health issues for several years. He was 65.

Lewis led USC in tackles (90), tackles for loss (12) and fumble recoveries (4) in 1975. Lewis came to USC from San Diego City College, where he had seven sacks in a game vs. Citrus College.

He attended Lincoln High School in San Diego and recalled a lighter moment after an interception.

“I was laughing as I carried the intercepted pass down the field, daring someone to catch me” Lewis said. “When the quarterback, of all people, did just that — and tackled me.”

Lewis was the second round pick by Tampa Bay in 1977 and played five seasons (1977-81) with the Buccaneers.  He played in the 1980 Pro Bowl.  

In 1979, Tampa Bay won the NFC Central division title and won the first playoff game in franchise history before losing the Rams in the NFC championship game. 

The most-remembered play in Lewis’ career was in the famous 1974 USC-Notre Dame game, when he made a huge hit of Irish kick returner Mark McLane at the 8-yard line after Anthony Davis’ kickoff return for a TD.

You can watch the hit below.

20 thoughts on “Former USC Linebacker David Lewis Dies At 65

  1. Rest in Peace, David, you will be missed. That hit is as clean and as powerful as the day is long. One of the all-time great college games, announced by one of the all-time great announcers. Sad that both David and Keith have left us.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. David’s hit was as big for USC as anything that happened that day. The coliseum crowd was already starting to feel good after the Davis TD — but we started feeling like it was Our Day after that hit.
      RIP, David.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. The 3rd and 2 stop and David’s hit had pinned ND deep in their own territory really opened the flood gates. Loved the shot of Haden and McKay conferring before the 3rd down hit.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. gt,
        Will we ever see a coach on the sidelines who makes us feel more confident than McKay?….

        Liked by 2 people

      3. I lived a few miles from the game and ran outside yelling as AD ran in that TD . I actually heard the crowd a few minutes later roar . I team inside and asked what happened and was told about the Lewis hit .


    2. For me it was the greatest game ever. Was in the student section that day. First USC game was in 1957 at the age of 4 and never saw the Coliseum like that. Still remember the “We want Woody” yell between the 3rd and 4th quarter.


  2. In my opinion, during my lifetime the best 3 defenses USC had were 1976, 1980 and 2008. If I recall correctly, the 1976 Linebacker Squad had David Lewis along with Rod Martin, Clay Matthews and Eric Williams. Still trying to figure out how Missouri beat them so badly in Robinson’s debut.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. Hard to argue with those assertions, Lyle.
    (The 1979 defense was also stout–many of the points given up were against the 2nd/3rd team defense, as Charles White and Paul McDonald lead the team to big first half leads.)

    If memory serves me correctly, USC could not stop the potent Mizzou ground game that day of JR’s debut (or was it a night game). They slashed through our front 7. One must guess that practice got a little tougher on Sunday? Ran off 11 victories in convincing style and JR saved his job.

    I vaguely recall reading the LA times that Sunday with numerous calls for JR to be fired.
    He had a pretty good run from 1976 to 1982, with a 90% win ratio (highest ratio of any HC at that time).

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Yes, there were calls for John to step down after that 1st game, Bourbon. McKay said “I hope people stop being so silly. John is a great coach.”

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Plus one for the Wold Bunch! I would have loved to seen the ’69 team play Darrell Royal’s ’69 Texas team that was crowned national champs. The Wild Bunch allowed just over 2 yards a carry rushing, and TX ran the wishbone all day long, with running backs who weren’t any faster and probably not as quick as Charlie Weaver and Jimmy Gunn. I really feel that we got jobbed in ’69. True, we tied ND that year, but still, I believe that we could have held TX to single digits.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. This could be a wonderful world…..if Folt and the other jackass Pac 12 Presidents go a little out of their politically correct way to ensure a safe and sane return to football…..

        Liked by 2 people

      3. My teammates on the Wild bunch were awesome and very special.
        I was fortunate to be their team CoCaptain with the Great DE Jimmy Gunn and defensive captain at Strong LB,
        Our Run from the 1967 National Champions… the 1968 Team going undefeated but losing in the National Championship 1969 Rose Bowl game and Going 10-0-1 in the 1969 season and winning 10-3 over Michigan in the 1970 Rose Bowl .
        29-2-2 in that three year span was special.
        Overall., I thought our 1969 Wild Bunch
        Defense was exceptional and the best of the three!
        Bob Jensen


  4. I lived a few miles from the Col. and ran outside yelling as AD ran in that TD . I actually heard the crowd a few minutes later roar , never heard the crowd at my house before . Went inside and asked what happened and was told about the Lewis hit . RIP


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