Bird was a first-round draft pick for the Raiders, and a statement was posted on the official Raiders’ website:
The Raiders Family is saddened to learn of the passing of Rodger Bird.
A standout at Kentucky, Bird was drafted by the Raiders in 1966 and played three seasons as a defensive back and returner for the Silver and Black.
The thoughts and prayers of the Raider Nation are with the Bird family at this time.
Bird played 38 games with the Raiders, and he returned 94 punts for 1,063 yards and 25 kickoffs for 538 yards, according to the Times-Tribune.
In 1966, he was named the AFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. That same year, the Oakland Raiders won the AFL Championship and garnered a 13-1 record.
Bird Was One of the Four “Bird Brothers” Who All Had Success in Sports
Before signing with the Oakland Raiders, Bird played football for the Kentucky Wildcats at the University of Kentucky, where he totaled 1,699 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns, according to WYMT Mountain News. Bird was known as the “Corbin Comet,” and he was inducted into the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame. In 2005, Bird was inducted into the University of Kentucky Athletics Hall of Fame.
Bird was named as a Southeastern Conference Football Legend in 2011, according to The Times-Tribune.
Bird was one of four “Bird Brothers” who were known for their athletic success playing football and basketball. Bird, along with his brothers, Calvin, Jerry and Billy, all played sports for the University of Kentucky.
Fans & Friends Reacted to the News of Rodger Bird’s Death
After the news of Bird’s death broke, fans and friends took to social media to share their thoughts. Matt Jones of Kentucky Sports Radio tweeted:
He wrote, “Rodger Bird was one of the best to ever play at Kentucky, a two-time All SEC player who then went on to play for the Oakland Raiders He loved Corbin and was a huge advocate to all from the mountains Prayers to the family and A hearty salute to a wonderful man and a UK legend.”
Chris Staples posted:
He said, “Rodger Bird, a great friend and mentor, I will miss you. I will always cherish the many conversations we had talking Raider and UK football. RIP Corbin Comet.”
Oscar Combs wrote:
He said, “This is the cover of 1965 Street & Smith College Football Yearbook and the cover photo made me a lifelong fan of this annual magazine. The photo of Wildcat star RB Rodger Bird sent chills down my spine as we were same age and my first year of covering.”