Former Pitt and Penn Hills offensive lineman Bill Fralic has passed away at the age of 56.
Fralic was named the male high school athlete of the year by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette following the 1980 season, when he graduated from Penn Hills and matriculated to Pitt, where he stepped in to fill the shoes of departed Outland Trophy winner Mark May at left tackle.
It is with a truly heavy heart & deep sadness that we have learned of the passing of our friend, Bill Fralic. He will be remembered as greatest o-lineman, ever, and as a true gentleman. He was our friend, our teammate, our brother. #pennhillspride @Pitt_FB @AtlantaFalcons pic.twitter.com/HkXurdD4UX
— 2018 PIAA 5A STATE CHAMPIONS PENN HILLS FOOTBALL (@phqbclub) December 14, 2018
It wasn’t long until the plaudits began to pile up for Fralic, who was a three-time All-American, a two-time consensus All-American and was a finalist for the Lombardi Award as a junior in 1983. His No. 79 jersey was retired by the Panthers at halftime of his final home game in 1984 and he was later inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
“I haven’t seen a better offensive lineman as a player or as a coach,” former Pitt head coach Foge Fazio said at the time. “I can’t believe anybody can be better than Bill.”
Fralic was selected in the first round of the 1985 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons and had an eight-year NFL career. He was a four-time Pro Bowler, three times named to the All-Pro team and was named to the 1980’s All-Decade team.
After his career, Fralic dabbled in professional wrestling and was a color commentator for the Falcons and for Pitt. He also owned an insurance business in the Atlanta area. Fralic frequently returned to Pitt and remained one of the program’s more visible alumni.
He also stayed close to his Penn Hills roots, and helped the 2018 Indians squad by footing the bill for their travel to Hershey for the PIAA State Championship game earlier this month.
“He’s been an incredible supporter,” Penn Hills athletic director Stephanie Strauss said to the Post-Gazette. “He steps up in the biggest moments whenever we need something.”