CHICAGO — Bob Avellini, the former Bears quarterback who teamed with Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton to lead the Bears to the 1977 playoffs, has died. He was 70.

The Bears said Saturday that Avellini died of cancer. The team did not say when he died.

Avellini and Payton had the finest seasons of their careers in 1977, when Chicago and the Minnesota Vikings each went 9-5 in the NFC North. Minnesota won the division, while Chicago earned a wild-card playoff berth.

The Bears were beaten by Dallas 37-7 in the playoffs that season. Avellini threw 11 touchdown passes and had a career-high 2,004 yards with 18 interceptions. Payton, meanwhile, rushed for more than 1,800 yards and 14 TDs.

“Bob was one-of-kind, a fierce and tough competitor,” the team said in a statement. “He’s perhaps best remembered for leading the Bears on an improbable run in 1977 to our first postseason appearance in fourteen years. He will be missed.”

Avellini threw for 7,111 yards with 33 touchdowns and 69 interceptions in 73 games over nine seasons, from 1975 to 1984.

Avellini, from New York, was part of the same draft class as Payton, selected by Chicago in the sixth round out of Maryland in 1975. Payton was the fourth overall pick.


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