Lars Tate, Former Buccaneers and Bears Running Back, Passes Away at Age 56

by Bryan Fyalkowski

Lars Tate, a star running back at the University of Georgia who played three years in the NFL, passed away on Monday at the age of 56. According to his son, Donavan, his father was diagnosed with Stage 3 throat cancer last month. He was set to begin chemotherapy soon in St. Petersburg, Florida.

“It was kind of sudden,” Donavan told the Athens Banner-Herald. “If you knew him and how he was, you just thought cancer was the next thing that he was going to overcome. Even with conversations with him, he was in good spirits.”

While playing college football for the Bulldogs from 1984-87, Tate rushed for 3,017 yards – which still stands as the sixth-most in program history. He was a back-to-back All-SEC Second Team selection in 1986 and 1987. He recorded 431 touches for 2,333 all-purpose yards and 31 scores in those two campaigns. In the Georgia record books, only Herschel Walker and Nick Chubb have more carries than Tate’s 615.

Father and Son Both Have Professional Careers Fade Away

Following his esteemed amateur career, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Lars Tate in the second round of the 1988 NFL Draft. He played two years there, putting up 289 rushes for 1,056 yards and 15 touchdowns. At the age of 24, Tate signed with the Chicago Bears for the 1990 season. But he only played in three games before suffering a neck injury that pushed him out of football altogether.

His son, Donavan, was the No. 3 overall pick of the San Diego Padres in the 2009 MLB Draft. He muddled in the minor leagues for the next seven seasons but never made it above the Single-A Advanced level. In 2017, Donavan joined the University of Arizona and was on the team for the 2017 season. But he left in December of that year to be closer to his family in Georgia.