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Former Nebraska offensive lineman and NFL linebacker John Kirby died Tuesday, the day of his 75th birthday, in his hometown of David City.

Kirby was a three-year letterwinner at guard for NU from 1961-63, teaming with All-American linemen Bob Brown and Larry Kramer. He went on to play seven seasons in the NFL at linebacker, the first five with the Minnesota Vikings and then the better part of his final two seasons with the New York Giants.

He graduated from St. Mary's High School in David City and earned a scholarship to play football at Nebraska, where he first earned his bachelor's degree in biological science and physical education and later a master's degree.

Kirby was inducted into the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame as an athlete in 2005. He was named a prep football All-American in 1959 after earning all-class and Class C all-state honors his junior and senior years. Kirby was named a Shrine Bowl captain in 1960 and also started for two years on St. Mary's basketball teams that went a combined 34-8. Kirby won the all-class gold in discus at the state meet in 1960.

He was selected in the fifth round of the 1964 NFL Draft by Minnesota and started all 14 games for the Vikings in 1967, playing for legendary NFL coaches Norm Van Brocklin and Bud Grant.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at St. Mary's Catholic Church in David City.

 

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