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'Jaguar Jon' Arnett, Former USC And Rams Great, Dies At 85

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Jon Arnett, one of the University of Southern California's greatest running backs who went on to play for the Los Angeles Rams and the Chicago Bears, died Saturday of heart failure at the age of 85, the school announced Monday.

Detroit Lions at Los Angeles Rams Football - Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 09, 1963: Detroit Lions at Los Angeles Rams Football - Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Rams halfback Jon Arnett runs the ball as teammates block for him. (Photo by Bob D'Olivo/The Enthusiast Network via Getty Images/Getty Images)

Arnett came to USC from 1954 from nearby Manual Arts High School. He excelled as both a running back and punt and kickoff returner at the university, where he was known as "Jaguar Jon" because of his agility and elusiveness — skills he honed as a youth gymnast.

A three-year letterman, he earned All-American and All-Pacific Coast Conference first team honors as a junior in 1955 and also received the Voit Trophy as the West Coast's most outstanding player. The following year, the senior co-captain finished 10th in the Heisman Trophy voting and won the Pop Warner Award while repeating as the Voit Trophy winner and an All-PCC first teamer, though he only played half the season.

After the season, he played in the College All-Star Game, the East-West Shrine Game and the Hula Bowl.

Arnett, who was inducted into the USC Athletic Hall of Fame in 2001, still ranks in the school's career Top 25 lists for rushing, punt returns and kickoff returns.

The Rams made Arnett the second pick of the 1957 NFL Draft. He played seven seasons (1957-63) for the team. He then played three seasons (1964-66) for the Bears.

In his 10-year NFL career, Arnett ran for 3,833 yards with 26 touchdowns, caught 222 passes for 2,290 yards with 10 TDs, returned 120 punts for 981 yards with a score, and had 126 kickoff returns for 3,110 yards with 2 TDs. He also threw two touchdowns.

Arnett still holds the Los Angeles Rams' record for the longest kickoff return at 105 yards.

After his football career ended, Arnett worked in sales and marketing, real estate development, stock brokerage, executive search, advertising, mortgage banking and investment counseling. Most recently, he had a food distribution business.

Arnett and his wife Jane founded the Retired Professional Athlete Association in 2005 to advocate for retired football players and their families.

He is survived by his wife, three children and brother Bill.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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