Lars Tate has died: Tate, from Indianapolis, was the leading rusher on the Georgia Bulldog football teams in 1986 and 1987. Lars Tate was 56 years old.
Tate died late Monday in St. Petersburg, Fla., about a month after he was diagnosed with throat cancer.
Tate was born in Indianapolis on February 2, 1966. He attended North Central High School in his hometown, and was named Gatorade National High School Offensive Player of the Year as a high school senior. During his senior year in 1983, Tate rushed for 1,417 yards on 149 carries for a 9.5 average and 14 TD’s, having rushed for 1,400 yards and scored 23 TD’s the year before. He then studied at the University of Georgia, playing for the Georgia Bulldogs and leading the team in rushing during the 1986 and 1987 seasons. Tate was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the second round (53rd overall) of the 1988 NFL Draft. He signed a three-year contract with an option for a fourth year in mid-July that year.
Tate made his NFL debut with the Buccaneers on September 4, 1988, at the age of 22, rushing 30 yards in a 41–14 loss against the Philadelphia Eagles. He subsequently had an 106-yard effort against the Detroit Lions in his eleventh game of the season. Another memorable game during his rookie year came when he scored a 46-yard touchdown after being flipped at the line of scrimmage and landing on his feet. During his first season, Tate led NFL rookie running backs in touchdowns (8), was the top rookie rusher in the National Football Conference (467 yards), and led the Buccaneers. The following year, he played 15 games (14 starts) and finished eighth in the league in rushing touchdowns (8), while again leading the franchise in rushing. He was nonetheless released after training camp before the start of the 1990 season.
Tate signed with the Chicago Bears in September 1990. However, he was limited to just three games with the team, due to a career-threatening neck injury that landed him on the injured reserve. He consequently became a conditional free agent after the Bears allowed his contract to expire and placed him on their unprotected list.
After retiring from professional football, Tate returned to school and studied towards a degree in economics. He also went into landscaping with his brother. He became sober three years before his death.
Tate was in a domestic partnership with Kelli Edwards in the three years prior to his death. He had three children: Stephan, Lauren, and Donovan. Donavan was drafted in the first round (third overall) of the 2009 Major League Baseball draft by the San Diego Padres and played six years in the minor leagues before injuries derailed his career. He then followed in his father’s footsteps by briefly playing college football for the Arizona Wildcats as a quarterback.
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