Reporting Jessica Kartalija
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Saying goodbye to Art “The Bulldog” Donovan. Hundreds of people filled the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen to remember the beloved former Colt who so many called friend.
Jessica Kartalija was there for the celebration of the life of Artie Donovan.
More than 800 people came to the cathedral–very sad, but also happy–as they recalled some of their finest memories of Art Donovan.
At the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, a Baltimore legend is remembered.
Hundreds gathered to celebrate the life of the NFL Hall of Famer. Many wore Colts jerseys.
The Colts defensive tackle was known for his incredible athleticism on the field and his larger than life personality.
“My father will not rest in peace unless I tell you how much he loved all of you. The citizens of Baltimore molded a boy from the Bronx into a great man on and off the field. You gave him so much happiness,” said Debra Donovan-Smith, daughter.
Web Extra: Art Donovan’s Funeral Part 1
Web Extra: Art Donovan’s Funeral Part 2
Donovan wasn’t from Baltimore–he actually grew up in the Bronx. But those who knew him say you’d never know.
“He was a piece of this community–him, Unitas, Lenny Moore and all those guys. They were the blue-collar mentality with the Colts,” said Tim Richardson.
Several former Colts greats–like Lenny Moore, Gino Marchetti, Tom Matte, Ordell Braase and Andy Nelson–attended the funeral.
“He was a special person, and he was what Baltimore is all about,” said Tom Matte.
“For you to get the people I see here today, that’s amazing,” said Ordell Braase.
“To have a guy like Donovan, your mind’s on what you’ve got to do and how you got to do it. And you’re tightening up in your head. Then all the sudden you hear a roar in the locker room. There’s Donovan over there. Getting guys together, loosening them up,” said Lenny Moore.
Donovan stayed in the spotlight long after his career on the field ended. He was popular for his hilarious stories about football.
Donovan made a living on the talk show circuit.
“I remember the first year I played, 1950 with the Colts. They cut us. We got off bus in Baltimore. No one wanted to get off the bus because when you’d go down the ramp, the coaches would say, `You’re fired,’ `You made the team.’ Guys are sitting four high in the head,” Donovan said.
He had a Friday football segment at WJZ for 15 years.
“These guys are making a million dollars! They’re supposed to catch the ball!” he said.
Donovan helped lead the Colts to the world championships in 1958 and 1959.
He was voted into the Hall of Fame in 1968.
Governor Martin O’Malley and former Governor Bob Ehrlich joined hundreds of close friends, former teammates and family members to remember the great Art Donovan.
While the funeral service at the cathedral was public, the internment was private. Close friend and former teammate Andy Nelson told WJZ Artie is still playing football on the big field in the sky.
Art Donovan is survived by his wife of 57 years, Dottie, their five children and seven grandchildren.