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Jim Hardy, oldest living USC and Rams player, dies at 96

(AP Photo/File)

LOS ANGELES (AP) Jim Hardy, the oldest living University of Southern California and Los Angeles Rams football player who was the MVP of the 1945 Rose Bowl, has died. He was 96.

The university said Monday he died Aug. 16 of natural causes at his home in the desert city of La Quinta, 130 miles east of Los Angeles.

Hardy was selected eighth in the first round of the 1945 NFL draft by the Washington Redskins. The quarterback spent seven seasons in the league and was part of the 1952 Detroit Lions team that won the NFL championship. He also played for the Rams (1946-48) and Chicago Cardinals (1949-51). He threw for 5,690 yards and 54 touchdowns.

Hardy played for the Rams in their inaugural season. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 1950.

While with the Cardinals in 1950, he set a single-game record by throwing eight interceptions against the Philadelphia Eagles, which still stands. The following week against the Baltimore Colts, he rebounded to throw six TDs.

Hardy lettered three seasons (1942-44) at quarterback and defensive back for USC, starting his final two seasons and leading the Trojans to a pair of shutout Rose Bowl victories.

He threw three touchdown passes against Washington in a 29-0 victory in the 1944 Rose Bowl, then passed for two TDs and ran for a third to earn MVP honors in a 25-0 win over Tennessee in the 1945 Rose Bowl.

He also played third base for the USC baseball team for three years.

His late brother, Don, played end for the Trojans in the mid-1940s and was drafted by the Rams in football and the Cleveland Indians in baseball.

Hardy was inducted into the USC Athletic Hall of Fame in 1999 and the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame in 1994.

After a business career, he was the general manager of the ABA's Los Angeles Stars (1969-70) and then held a similar title at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (1973-86).

Hardy remained a lifelong USC football fan who until two years ago would drive himself two hours from the desert to Los Angeles once a week to watch the team's practices. He also attended over 80 Rose Bowl games.

He is survived by his wife of 74 years, Henrietta; daughters Cindy Aivalis, Ellen Hardy and K. Maria Hardy; and son Danny Hardy. He was preceded in death by his son James.

Updated August 19, 2019

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