CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Robert Stewart, an All-America nose tackle at the University of Alabama in the 1990s who later played 11 seasons in the Arena League, died Saturday. He was 55.
Stewart died in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he lived since retiring from professional football, the Dothan Eagle reported. No cause of death was given.
Stewart, who began as a running back for the Crimson Tide in 1988, scored a touchdown and averaged 3.2 yards per carry in 11 games. Stewart began to shine when he switched to defense in 1990. The 6-foot, 308-pounder was named first-team All-American and All-SEC in 1991, Sports Illustrated reported.
Stewart had 59 tackles, eight tackles for a loss and six sacks, leading Alabama to an 11-1 mark and a No. 5 season-ending ranking, according to AL.com.
He played for three coaches at Alabama — Ray Perkins, Bill Curry and Gene Stallings.
“Robert was a powerful positive presence every day on our team,” Curry wrote on Stewart’s online obituary page. “His smile augmented great physical strength so everyone loved and respected him. Godspeed Robert.”
Stewart was drafted in the eighth round by the New Orleans Saints in 1992, but decided to focus on Arena football when his NFL career did not take off.
Stewart played until 2004 and was a six-time All-Arena pick, AL.com reported. He was chosen the league’s lineman of the year in 1999 while playing for the New Jersey Red Dogs, Sports Illustrated reported.
Stewart starred at tailback at Houston County High School in Columbia, Alabama, the Eagle reported. He rushed for 4,471 yards from 1982 to 1985, according to the newspaper. He helped the Lions reach the state playoffs when he was a junior, rushing for 2,155 yards.
“A smile — and he made other people smile,” his high school coach, Bubba Odom, told the Eagle. “As an athlete, he was so humble.
“He broke every kind of record you can think of in high school at that time, and then at Alabama set all the weightlifting records … some of them might have been broken by now; I’m not sure,” Odom told the newspaper. “But it didn’t matter to him. What mattered to him was the team, and people around him. He was just nice, and that’s the way his whole family was.”
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