Frank LeMaster, a former linebacker for the Philadelphia Eagles who played in the Super Bowl XV, died on Friday, March 24, 2023, at the age of 71. His family did not disclose the cause of his death, but he had been suffering from dementia and had undergone heart valve replacement surgery in 2017. He was a beloved figure in the Eagles community and a successful businessman after his retirement from football.
A Stellar Career with the Eagles
LeMaster was born on March 12, 1952, in Lexington, Kentucky. He played college football for the Kentucky Wildcats and was drafted by the Eagles in the fourth round of the 1974 NFL Draft. He spent his entire nine-year career with the Eagles, playing in 136 consecutive games from 1974 to 1982. He was a key member of the Eagles defense that reached the Super Bowl XV in 1980, where they lost to the Oakland Raiders. He was also selected to his first and only Pro Bowl in 1981. He finished his career with 14.5 sacks, 10 interceptions, seven fumble recoveries, and two touchdowns.
LeMaster was known for his hard-hitting and relentless style of play, as well as his durability and leadership. He led the Eagles in tackles in four of his nine seasons and shrugged off numerous injuries and concussions to stay on the field. He was part of one of the best linebacking corps in the league in the late 1970s and early 1980s, along with Bill Bergey and John Bunting. He helped the Eagles win their first NFC East title in 1980 and their first NFC championship in 1981.
LeMaster was also a popular and articulate figure off the field. He wrote a weekly football column for several local newspapers in 1979 and was frequently quoted by the media during his career. He said that being part of a winning tradition with the Eagles was his fondest memory and that playing in the Super Bowl was the most exciting time of his life.
A Successful Businessman After Football
After retiring from football in 1984, LeMaster became a regional sales manager for FieldTurf Inc., a company that produces artificial turf for sports fields. He worked for the company from 2001 until his retirement in 2020. He was also involved in various charitable and community activities, such as supporting youth sports programs and veterans organizations.
LeMaster was married to his wife, Susan, for 48 years and had three children and seven grandchildren. He lived in Birchrunville, Chester County, until his death. He was inducted into the Kentucky Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007 and was honored by the Eagles as part of their Legends Program in 2018.
LeMaster’s death was mourned by many former teammates, coaches, fans, and friends. The Eagles issued a statement saying that he “put 110 percent of himself into the Philadelphia Eagles” and that he was “a winner, both on the field and off.” Former quarterback Ron Jaworski tweeted that he was “a great teammate and better friend.” According to NBC Philadelphia, LeMaster’s former coach Dick Vermeil said that he was “a very special person” who “gave everything he had to be an Eagle.”
Frank LeMaster Cause of Death: A Mystery
The exact cause of LeMaster’s death has not been revealed by his family or by any official sources. However, he had been dealing with some health issues in his later years that may have contributed to his demise. According to The Inquirer, he underwent heart valve replacement surgery in 2017 and was diagnosed with dementia shortly after. He had been living at an assisted care center in Exton since then.
It is possible that LeMaster’s dementia was related to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease that affects many former NFL players who suffered repeated head trauma during their careers. CTE can cause symptoms such as memory loss, confusion, depression, aggression, and suicidal thoughts. However, CTE can only be diagnosed after death by examining the brain tissue of the deceased.
LeMaster’s family has not said whether they will donate his brain for CTE research or whether they will release any information about his cause of death to the public. However, they have expressed their gratitude for the support and condolences they have received from the Eagles organization and fans. They have also asked for privacy during this difficult time.
Frank LeMaster will be remembered as one of the greatest players in Eagles history and as a dedicated husband, father, grandfather, and friend. His legacy will live on through his achievements on and off the field and through his impact on those who knew him. Rest in peace, Frank LeMaster.