"I won't just miss him," Marchetti said. "A part of me has retired with him."

As a teary-eyed Donovan drove out of camp, a cherry bomb exploded underneath his car — one last prank on Fatso.

The Colts retired his jersey before 54,000 fans before the first home game. Donovan's gifts included a Cadillac, 70 pounds of potato chips, 70 pounds of pretzels and two new sports coats to replace those that prankish teammates were forever ripping off his back.

In acknowledgement, he said: "There's a lady up in heaven who must be very proud of the way the people in Baltimore have treated her boy from the Bronx."

"With that," The Sun wrote, "He [Donovan] turned and, with head bowed and a Colt jacket thrown over his shoulders ... slowly made the long walk across the field as the band played 'Auld Lang Syne' and the crowd rose and rocked the place with applause."

Said Ewbank: "He'll probably wind up being mayor some day."

Life after football

On Aug. 3, 1968 — 45 years ago Saturday — he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the first Colts player and the NFL's first pure defensive lineman to be enshrined there.

Donovan retired to run the family's liquor stores and the Valley Country Club in Towson. He might have gone quietly, had the country not discovered what his teammates already knew. Fatso was a ripping good storyteller.

He worked as a commentator for Colts games and as co-host of a weekly radio sports talk show with Charley Eckman. Later he teamed with Braase and WCBM's Dave Humphrey, and then Braase and sportscaster Tom Davis. Donovan also filmed a blitz of popular TV ads for the Maryland Lottery and ESPN.

His autobiography, "Fatso," published in 1987, made Donovan a minor celebrity. He appeared on "Late Night with David Letterman" and "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," as well as TV talk shows hosted by Joan Rivers, Arsenio Hall, Craig Kilborn and Tom Snyder.

Audiences loved Donovan's sardonic wit and infectious laughter. Some examples:

• "In the old days, they'd fine you for being overweight. Now they make you a star."

• "What the hell, the players don't punch anybody anymore. In fact, some of them wear their face masks now so you can't even get your fingers in there."

• "Today [players] have dietician's food, weights and workouts. We had hot dogs, cheeseburgers, salami and bologna, and we did all right."

The late John Steadman, Sun columnist, called Donovan "a walking-around wonder of the world." Others labeled him "a modern-day Aesop."

Donovan said he just did what came naturally.

"I guess telling stories is an art. I never looked at it that way," he once told The Sun. "I just started talking, and everyone started laughing. So I kept talking, and they kept laughing."

For all the time he spent in the public eye, Donovan was also beloved at home.

"We're proud of him and the football, but he was also a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week father to his kids," Donovan-Mazzulli said. "He took us to school every morning and waited at the kitchen table for us all to come in at night.