Carl Weathers dies at 76: Raiders, Adam Sandler pay tribute to former NFL player, legendary ‘Rocky’ actor

Former NFL linebacker turned action star Carl Weathers died Thursday, eliciting tributes from across the football and film worlds.

Weathers, who starred as Apollo Creed in the “Rocky” movies, died peacefully in his sleep at his home in Los Angeles, Calif., his family said in a statement. He was 76 years old. 

“Carl was an exceptional human being who lived an extraordinary life,” Weathers’ manager Mark Huber said in a statement. “Through his contributions to film, television, the arts and sports, he has left an indelible mark and is recognized worldwide and across generations. He was a beloved brother, father, grandfather, partner, and friend.”

Weathers played just eight games in the NFL with the Raiders, but his connection to sports continued in his acting career. He not only appeared in the “Rocky” movies but also in golf comedy “Happy Gilmore” alongside Adam Sandler.

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— Las Vegas Raiders (@Raiders) February 2, 2024

“The Raiders Family is mourning the loss of Carl Weathers, who passed away Thursday. Weathers played two seasons with the Silver and Black before embarking on a successful acting career that spanned five decades, famously depicting boxer Apollo Creed in the Rocky franchise among many other unforgettable roles,” the Raiders said in a statement. 

“Always a proud Raider, Weathers will be missed dearly by his Raiders Family and his many fans worldwide. Our deepest condolences are with the Weathers family at this time.”

Hollywood and the football world took to social media Friday to honor Weathers. 

A true great man. Great dad. Great actor. Great athlete. So much fun to be around always. Smart as hell. Loyal as hell. Funny as hell. Loved his sons more than anything. What a guy!! Everyone loved him. My wife and I had the best times with him every time we saw him. Love to…

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— Adam Sandler (@AdamSandler) February 2, 2024

rest in peace carl weathers 🙏🏽

apollo creed was one of the best and coolest characters I’ve ever seen! it doesn’t get much better than the end of the rocky III training montage 💪🏽

— christian (@caquino__) February 2, 2024

We lost an icon. Carl Weathers was a phenomenal talent, a true professional, and a dear friend. All my sympathies and love to his family. I loved working with him on Predator and then celebrating that film with him at various conventions in the ensuing years.
Thank you, Carl.

— Jesse Ventura (@GovJVentura) February 2, 2024

RIP Carl Weathers. Find your Happy Place.

— Chris Vannini (@ChrisVannini) February 2, 2024

RIP CARL WEATHERS. Lots of great roles but his exit in PREDATOR is especially

— All The Right Movies (@ATRightMovies) February 2, 2024

There is no greater fight entrance in film history than Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) coming down to”Living in America” performed by James Brown.

— Allan (@TheAllanAguirre) February 2, 2024

Carl Weathers NFL career

Weathers played collegiate football at San Diego State, then signed as an undrafted free agent with the Raiders in 1970. In two seasons with the Raider, he appeared in eight games — seven in the 1970 season and one in the following season.

After he was released by the Raiders, Weathers joined the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League. He played 18 games in total before he elected to retire from football in 1974. 

Still, Weathers remained around the game. Just this year, he starred in FanDuel commercials with former NFL tight end Rob Gronkowski for the “Kick of Destiny 2” promotion at Super Bowl 58.

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Carl Weathers acting career

While Weathers was playing football, he began his acting career, working as an extra on several films. He got his first significant roles in the mid-70s.

Weathers starred in a number of sports films. He is perhaps best known for his role as Creed in the “Rocky” movie franchise, starring in the first four films. He also played Chubbs Peterson, the caddy of Sandler’s titular character in “Happy Gilmore.”

The actor also starred in action shows and films as well, playing Colonel Al Dillon in “Predator” and Greef Karga in the “Stars Wars” series “The Mandalorian.” For his role as Karga, Weathers earned an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series. 

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