FLINT, Mich. – Lynn Chandnois, a 1950s special teams star for the Pittsburgh Steelers whose average on kickoff returns ranks second only to Gale Sayers in NFL history, died Tuesday. He was 86.
Michigan State, where Chandnois was a two-way standout in the late 1940s, said Thursday that Chandnois died in Flint, Mich., where he lived. Other details were not disclosed.
Chandnois played seven seasons for the Steelers after they drafted him No. 8 overall in 1950. He averaged 29.6 yards on kickoff returns, behind only the 30.6 averaged by Sayers. Chandnois made the NFL's all-star game twice and had a league-high 1,593 all-purpose yards in 1953.
"Lynn was one of our great players from the past," Steelers chairman Dan Rooney said in a statement. "He was a really good person and a better player than anyone ever gave him credit for being. He is one of those special players that we will always remember."
Chandnois was in the Naval Air Corps for two years before he enrolled at Michigan State in 1946 at the age of 21. He had 20 career interceptions for 410 yards, both still school records. A halfback, he ranks second in Spartans history with 6.55 yards per carry and sixth with 31 touchdowns.
"During his era, Lynn Chandnois was one of college football's most talented two-way players," Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said. "He was so valuable on both sides of the football that he earned the nickname '60-minute Chandnois.' You get an idea of what kind of an impact Lynn had on the field when you look in MSU's record book today and still see his name listed so prominently.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the Chandnois family in this time of grief."
Survivors include his wife and two daughters. Funeral arrangements were not announced.