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Detroit Lions Pro Bowl linebacker Mike Cofer passes away at 58

Former Lions linebacker Mike Cofer, a linchpin in Detroit's defense during the 1980s, passed away Thursday at the age of 58, the team announced.

Cofer spent his entire 10-year career in the Motor City (1983-92) and his 62.5 career sacks are the second-most in franchise history. Cofer made the Pro Bowl in 1988 after collecting a career-high 12 sacks. He's the only linebacker in Lions history to record eight sacks in a season, which he did four times.

Cofer played for the Lions' last two division title teams and appeared in their lone playoff win since 1957. The Knoxville, Tenn. native starred for the Volunteers before Detroit selected him in the third round of the 1983 draft.

He is survived by his wife, Reba, and sons, Michael and Phil.

Statement from former Lions coach Wayne Fontes:
"I was truly blessed to have had the chance to coach Mike. He had such tremendous character. When you heard people talking about a player who always gave 100 percent, it was Mike. He epitomized that type of effort and gave it every time he took the field. Mike was very well-liked and respected by his teammates and certainly by me and our coaches. My prayers and love go out to Mike's family."

Statement from former teammate Chris Spielman:
"Mike was the perfect teammate. He taught me how to be a pro. His effort and practice habits set the standard for me not only in my rookie year, but for my entire career. He was an inspiration to me and his uncompromising spirit was reflected in how he played. God bless Mike and his family."

Statement from former teammate Bennie Blades:
"Mike Cofer was the biggest, kindest man I had ever met at that time in my career. He showed me how to be a complete player in the NFL. He was as unselfish of a player that you could meet -- a linebacker that would do what was needed at the expense of individual accolades. But his demeanor off the field was the same way -- unselfishly kind."

Statement from former teammate Eric Hipple:
"Mike was the definition of the perfect football player. His attitude matched his ability and he gave 100 percent in everything he did. The same goes for his care and attention for fellow players, fans and people in general. He brought smiles and joy to those he interacted with and was not only a great player, but also a wonderful man. We can all learn from him and he will be missed."

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