Right after the Florida State Seminoles survived their opening-round matchup with Vermont Thursday, forward Phil Cofer heard some bad news. His father Mike Cofer passed away. According to Warchant.com editor Ira Schoffel, Mike has been ill for some time.
“Folks, please keep FSU’s Phil Cofer in your thoughts,” he tweeted. “His father, who has been ill for some time, has passed away. Phil found out after today’s game. So incredibly sad. His teammates are comforting him as best they can.”
Cofer has been limited by injuries all season, missing 12 games total this year including the 76-69 victory over the Catamounts. He’s averaging 26.1 minutes and 7.4 points per game and led the Seminoles in scoring (12.8 points) during the 2017-18 season.
His father was an athlete in his own right, lacing up the cleats as a linebacker at both the collegiate and professional ranks. Here’s what you need to know about Mike, who was 58.
Mike Cofer Was Suffering from Amyloidosis, Which is Considered an Incurable Disease
The cause of death has not been announced at this point. but he was diagnosed with amyloidosis in 2007. According to WebMD, the disease is “a serious health problem that can lead to life-threatening organ failure.”
He and his family set up a GoFundMe in August 2018 to help pay for treatment.
Primary Amyloidosis is an evil terminal blood disorder that originates from abnormal blood cells that produce abnormal proteins that go and attack all major organs of the body. In my husband’s case, it has attacked his heart, kidneys, liver, digestive system and his circulatory system. (Right) now, my husband and I are moving to AUGUSTA to live closer to family, for we both need help physically. Michael, my hubby is on Kidney Dialysis 3 times a week.
His wife Reba, according to her description on the fundraising site, also is suffering from her second bout with metastatic breast cancer. The effort raised $215, well short of the $7,500 goal.
He Made a Public Appearance at a Tennessee Football Game in 2013
Cofer played linebacker for Tennessee in the early 1980s, and was honored in 2013 at Neyland Stadium for the Sep. 28 contest against South Alabama. The Volunteers won 31-24.
From a video produced by the Tennessee athletic department, Cofer was honored alongside Jermaine Copeland as a “Legends of the Game.”
“As far as coming back, it brings a lot of good memories back,” Cofer said. “It’s a blessing. It’s a blessing for me to be alive today and to be here on this field today.”
Reba was blown away by the receptiveness of the Volunteer faithful.
“We’ve been greeted as if we were royalty,” she said. “This is something we could not have earned, and I thank you so much for extending us this time. You all have brought us so much life to my husband on this day.”
Cofer Was a Captain Linebacker at Tennessee in 1982
Mike Cofer played high school football in Knoxville (Tenn.) at the now-defunct Rule High. He decided to stay close to home, accepting a scholarship offer from Tennessee in 1979.
He played in all 11 games of his freshman season, tallying 27 tackles and a fumble recovery. By 1981, he was the full-time starter, racking up 94 tackles and a blocked punt. He earned a captainship in 1982, and led by example with 84 stops, 4 sacks and 2 fumble recoveies. This earned him All-SEC honors.
In the clip above, you can see him forcing a fumble early in Tennessee’s 35-28 upset over 2nd-ranked Alabama in 1982. While his Volunteers teams never won more than 8 games in a season, he helped lead the team to a 7-5 mark against their main rivals (Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee).
He Was a Pro-Bowl Outside Linebacker for the Detroit Lions
For his efforts, he was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the third round of the 1983 NFL Draft. He racked up 62.5 sacks in his 10-year career in Detroit.
He helped revolutionize the 3-4 outside linebacker in Detroit, while Lawrence Thomas did it for the New York Giants. In 1988, Cofer made the Pro Bowl after a 12-sack season. He reached double-digit sacks one more time in 1990, also nabbing an interception.
During his time on the Lions, he participated in three NFL Playoffs. By the time Barry Sanders was leading Detroit to the NFC Championship Game in 1991, Cofer was touch and go with a knee injury. He retired after the 1993 season.
An article by the Ludington Daily News from the time of his retirement states that he made 511 tackles in his 10-year career.
He Was Heavily Involved in His Son’s Recruitment to Florida State
Phil Cofer was a highly-touted recruit out of Whitewater High in Fayetteville (Ga.). He was a 3-star forward that earned offers from the likes of SEC powers Tennessee and Auburn. He originally signed with his dad’s alma mater, but asked to be released from his scholarship when head coach Cuonzo Martin left for Missouri.
The Mike Cofer said the Seminoles became a top option afterwards, particularly due to the relationship with head coach Leonard Hamilton.
“We looked at the position, how he would be utilized at the position and he was happy with that,” Mike Cofer said to the Tallahassee Democrat. “Coach Hamilton sat him down and explained how his skill set would be utilized, how they would work with his strengths and improve his weaknesses and how Phil could, if he works hard and stays focused, would come in and play at Florida State. He felt comfortable with the coaching staff and he felt comfortable with the players he had the opportunity to meet. The team already has unbelievable size and Phil really liked that.
“He was happy with personnel on the roster, he was happy with the campus and he was very impressed with the academic ideals of the university.”
It’s unclear whether the younger Cofer was going to play against Murray State in the next round anyways due to injury. His father’s passing may cement his status due to emotional hardship.