Former Lion John Panelli dead at 85

ROYAL OAK, Mich. (AP) – Ex-Notre Dame star running back and NFL player John Panelli has died. He was 85.

AJ Desmond & Sons Funeral Directors says the Beverly Hills, Mich., resident died Friday in Royal Oak after a sudden illness.

Panelli was born in Morristown, N.J., and played fullback and linebacker for Notre Dame’s 1946 and 1947 national championship teams, averaging 7.5 yards a carry his senior year.

He was a 1949 first-round draft pick for Detroit, playing two seasons with the Lions and three with the Chicago Cardinals.

Leaving pro football, Panelli started J.R. Panelli Equipment Co., in Southfield.

Survivors include wife Margaret; sisters Angelina Lombardo and Anna Brockman; children John, Andrew, Peter and Velma; and four grandchildren.

A funeral Mass is Saturday at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Beverly Hills.