One of the best running backs to ever play at Utah State passed away last Saturday.
MacArthur Lane, called “Mac The Truck” by his teammates, was 77 years old. He died in his hometown of Oakland, California.
After his time in Logan, Lane went on to play 11 seasons in the NFL with three different teams. He had a passion for the Aggies and along with his brother Sid, also a former USU football player, were the Grand Marshals of the 2007 USU Homecoming parade.
“We are saddened to hear of the passing of MacArthur Lane,” Utah State Vice President and Director of Athletics John Hartwell said in a press release. “MacArthur was a tremendous football player, both at Utah State and in the NFL, and his passion for Utah State University and Aggie Football was unmatched. Our condolences go out to his wife Edna and his entire family. He will be missed by all.”
Lane was a three-year letterwinner at both linebacker and running back at USU from 1965-67. As a running back during his junior and senior seasons, Lane carried the ball 171 times for 1,182 yards and eight touchdowns. His 6.9 yards per carry average still ranks third all-time in school history.
In 2008, Lane was inducted into the Utah State University Athletics Hall of Fame. In an interview with The Herald Journal in February of 2008, he shared some of his thoughts on being inducted and his playing days as an Aggie.
“First of all ... I couldn’t believe it. Wow,” Lane said in 2008. “I was knocked off my feet, basically, when I heard the news. I thought they had forgot about me.”
Far from it. Longtime fans still remember No. 36. He started his Aggie career at linebacker, starting as a sophomore. He moved to the offensive side of the ball as a junior, where he drew the attention of NFL teams. His longest run was an 84-yard touchdown run against Hawaii, which is the ninth longest in school history.
“This means immortality for me at Utah State and the state of Utah,” Lane said when inducted to the Aggie Hall of Fame. “I’m in the Hall of Fame with some of the elite (athletes) in sports, like Merlin Olsen, Phil Olsen, Bill Staley and a lot of other guys. I’m looking forward to it. This is my time to shine.”
During Lane’s three seasons playing for the Aggies, they went 19-10-1. The Aggies beat BYU twice and Utah three times during that timespan.
“We were like the poor kids in the state of Utah, up north,” Lane said. “There was Brigham Young, Utah and then us. We were the forgotten guys. But hey, we’re the badest. I don’t care what they say, we were the badest at that time, and we still are the badest.”
He has many fond memories of his time in Logan, especially beating in-state rivals. But a game against West Texas State sticks out the most on the gridiron. He rushed for a career-high 207 yards on 20 carries and scored three touchdowns in a 44-27 win.
“That was like a track meet. They scored, then we scored,” said Lane, who also lettered in track at USU. “There were four running backs that played in that game that went on to the NFL.”
Lane also remembers USU track coach Ralph Maughan asking him to compete for the Aggie track team. The Oakland native can also remember coming to Logan and wondering about his decision. He called his time in Logan “quite an experience.”
“If I had it to do again, I would do it all over again the same,” Lane said.
He graduated from USU in 1969, a year after being the 13th player selected in the 1968 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Cardinals.
Lane spent 11 seasons in the NFL with the Cardinals (1968-71), Green Bay Packers (1972-74) and Kansas City Chiefs (1975-78). Lane carried the ball 1,206 times for 4,656 yards, and caught 287 passes for 2,786 years in the NFL. In all, he scored 37 touchdowns.
His best NFL season came in 1970 with the Cardinals, when he led the league with 11 rushing touchdowns and was chosen to the Pro Bowl. During the 1976 season with the Chiefs, Lane led the NFL in receptions with 66.
“I played a long time,” Lane said. “You figure 11 years at running back, that is pretty dog gone good.”
Lane is one of just four Aggies to ever be drafted in the first round of the NFL, joining defensive tackle Merlin Olsen (third overall) in 1962 by the Los Angeles Rams, quarterback Bill Munson (seventh overall) in 1964 by the Los Angeles Rams and defensive tackle Phil Olsen (fourth overall) in 1970 by the Boston Patriots.
Following his NFL days, Lane coached in the USFL and CFL. He owned a fitness business, as well. Lane also did some farming, growing wheat and barley. At the time of his death he owned rental property in Oakland and “was a tireless volunteer for several charities.”
“MacArthur would never take a dime for his charity appearances,” said longtime friend Joe Martin in the SF Chronicle. “He was the epitome of a great family man.”
Oakland Raiders tight end Raymond Chester, who was Lane’s close friend for 48 years, was quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle. They met during Chester’s rookie season in 1970.
“Mac was one of those guys that everybody loved,” Chester said. “... He was smart as a whip, kindhearted and generous. As an athlete, he had to be one of the top 10 greatest high school athletes ever in the Bay Area. He was a little over 6-1 and he could dunk with two hands. At one track meet, he won the 220, the shot and the discus, and he pole vaulted.”
Lane is survived by his wife Edna, a longtime employee of the Oakland Police Department, and daughters Rhonda and Cassandra.