Former Corbin Redhound and University of Kentucky great Rodger Bird passed away today this past Saturday in Henderson, Kentucky at the age of 76.

Rodger Bird was one of the four "Bird Brothers" who were well known for their success on the football field and the basketball court. Jerry, Rodger, Calvin and Billy each played sports for the University of Kentucky.

Rodger Bird’s nephew, Steve Bird, who played high school football at Corbin, college football at Eastern Kentucky University and professional football for the St. Louis Cardinals and the San Diego Chargers, said his his uncle taught him a lot about the game of football.

“Rodger spent a lot of time in the backyard with myself and my cousins teaching us,” he said. “You know, when I got into coaching and he would come around, I learned something new from him every time.

“He was a great family man,” Steve Bird added. “Rodger was the uncle that would be out there working with something or helping with something, and it wasn’t always sports. That’s just the kind of man he was. He was a family man and a sportsman. He had a lot of great interests outside of football.”

Steve Bird attributed his father Jerry and his uncles’ competitiveness as to one of many reasons why each of them were successful.

“They were a close-knit group. They’re four boys and two sisters, and they were always pulling for each other,” he said. “They were family first. They were proud of each other and supported each other. They had a great deal of pride for Corbin. They loved their teammates. Let me tell you, you say anything about Corbin, you better make sure you’re saying something positive. They loved Corbin and their teammates.”

The "Corbin Comet" was known for his dominance on the football field for the Redhounds. He helped lead Corbin to an undefeated season in 1960 while earning All-State honors twice during his high school career.

“I’ve been a part of football for let’s see, 51, 52 years, and I’ve never, ever, saw another football player that could totally dominate offensively, defensively, kicking, punting or returning a punt, like Rodger did,” former Corbin teammate and former Corbin Redhound coach Larry "Cotton" Adams said. “It didn’t matter, he could do everything and he did it well. He dominated, that’s what Rodger did.”

“He was a great teammate, you better believe it,” he added. “He was two years ahead of me and I just sit back and watched him. Gosh oh mighty, I didn’t know a whole lot about it, but I knew enough to realize I was watching someone that was great. Every game, he was the best football player on the field. Whatever needed to be done, he did. It wasn’t all natural genetics he had. He worked his tail off. He was a hard worker. The way that he played, he played smart. He knew what was going on. Like I said, I was a young kid, and I knew right away, that he was great. He was a person I looked up to all of my life.”

Steve Bird said his uncle continued to keep up with Corbin football throughout the years.

“Even when I was or wasn’t playing, every Saturday morning, Rodger would find out how the Redhounds had done,” he said. “If he couldn’t find it in the media somewhere, he’d call my dad. He kept up with Corbin. Corbin meant more to Rodger than anyone really knows.”

Bird continued his success at the college level and went on to wear the blue and white for the Wildcat football team, lettering three years (1963, 64, and 65) at UK.

“Rodger Bird is a true Wildcat great and a Kentucky football legend,” said Mitch Barnhart, UK Director of Athletics. “We are proud to call him a UK Athletics Hall of Famer and thankful for all he and the entire Bird family have given to this program. We send our condolences to all whose lives he touched.”

His first play as a college football player was a 92-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against Virginia Tech. During his stay at Kentucky, Bird earned first-team All-American honors in 1965 by Time Magazine and NBC.

He was also a two-time All-Southeastern Conference first-team (1964 and 1965) selection by the Associated Press and United Press International. Bird played in the College All-Star Game, North-South Shrine All-Star Game, and the Senior Bowl.

He totaled 1,699 rushing yards, and 21 touchdowns during his career as a Wildcat, and finished with a season-best 646 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns in 1965. Bird totaled 3,333 all-purpose yards as a Wildcat, and had a career-high game of 157 yards rushing against Virginia Tech in 1963.

He was also a standout safety on defense, intercepting five passes as a Wildcat, including a 95-yard touchdown return vs. Auburn in 1964.

Bird continued his career in the American Football League (AFL) after graduating from UK, and was a first round draft pick by the Oakland Raiders In 1966.

He was named as the AFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1966, and helped guide the Raiders to a 13-1 record and an AFL Championship before participating in Super Bowl II on Jan. 14, 1968 when the Raiders faced-off against defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay.

He played in 38 games for Oakland and returned 94 punts (eighth in team history) for 1,063 yards and 25 kickoffs for 533 yards. He returned eight interceptions for 110 yards and a touchdown, and was named second team All-AFL twice.

Bird was inducted into the University of Kentucky Athletics Hall of Fame in 2005. He is also a retired jersey honoree at UK. He was named to the All-Time Kentucky Teams, by both the Lexington Herald-Leader and Louisville Courier-Journal, in 1990 during the 100th season of Kentucky football. In 2011, he was named as a Southeastern Conference Football Legend.

“He dominated in high school and he dominated in college, and people forget he was defensive rookie of the year (in the American Football League),” Adams said. “He also played in the Super Bowl and on national television. I never, ever, in my 52 years, saw anyone dominate like Rodger did.”

ORIGINAL STORY POSTED SATURDAY AT 5:10 P.M.

Former Corbin Redhound and University of Kentucky great Rodger Bird passed away Saturday at the age of 76. 

Rodger Bird was one of the four "Bird Brothers" who were well known for their success on the football field and the basketball court. Jerry, Rodger, Calvin and Billy each played sports for the University of Kentucky. 

The "Corbin Comet" was known for his dominance on the football field for the Redhounds. He helped lead Corbin to an undefeated season in 1960 while earning All-State honors twice during his high school career. 

Bird continued his success at the college level and went on to wear the blue and white for the Wildcat football team, lettering three years (1963, 64, and 65). 

His first play as a college football player was a 92-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against Virginia Tech. During his stay at Kentucky, Bird earned first-team All-American honors in 1965 by Time Magazine and NBC. 

He was also a two-time All-Southeastern Conference first-team (1964 and 1965) selection by the Associated Press and United Press International. Bird played in the College All-Star Game, North-South Shrine All-Star Game, and the Senior Bowl.

He totaled 1,699 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns during his career as a Wildcat, and finished with a season-best 646 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns in 1965. Bird totaled 3,333 all-purpose yards as a Wildcat and had a career-high game of 157 yards rushing against Virginia Tech in 1963.

He was also a standout safety on defense, intercepting five passes as a Wildcat, including a 95-yard touchdown return vs. Auburn in 1964. 

Bird continued his career in the American Football League (AFL) after graduating from UK, and was a first round draft pick by the Oakland Raiders In 1966. 

He was named AFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1966, and helped guide the Raiders to a 13-1 record and an AFL Championship before participating in Super Bowl II on Jan. 14, 1968 when the Raiders faced-off against defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay. 

He played in 38 games for Oakland and returned 94 punts (eighth in team history) for 1,063 yards and 25 kickoffs for 533 yards. He returned eight interceptions for 110 yards and a touchdown, and was named second team All-AFL twice.

Bird was inducted into the University of Kentucky Athletics Hall of Fame in 2005, and is also a member of the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame. In 2011, he was named as a Southeastern Conference Football Legend.

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