Jeff Blackshear, who anchored the Ravens’ right guard position for four seasons in the late 1990s, died Saturday after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 50.

An eighth-round pick out of Northeast Louisiana in 1993, Blackshear played three years for the Seattle Seahawks before heading to Baltimore in 1996, the franchise’s first year. He started 60 of a possible 64 games for the Ravens through the 1999 season, with all but one coming at right guard. At one point, he went three years without missing a practice, The Baltimore Sun reported.


The 6-foot-6 Blackshear was regarded as one of the team’s strongest players and an anchor on a line headlined by All-Pro left tackle Jonathan Ogden that paved lanes for running backs Bam Morris, Earnest Byner, Priest Holmes and Errict Rhett. Over a month before the start of the 1999 season, Blackshear signed a five-year contract extension worth $18.7 million.

“Jeff Blackshear is a great football player and a great man,” then-Ravens owner Art Modell said after Blackshear was re-signed. “He’s a team leader and an important part of our offense.”

But less than eight months later, the team released Blackshear for what it called salary cap reasons. He played a season for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2000 and the Green Bay Packers in 2002 before retiring.

Blackshear was diagnosed with cancer in January 2014, according to The News Star (Louisiana). He told the Ravens’ website last year that he underwent chemotherapy and radiation therapy to eliminate over two dozen tumors, but in June 2016, a tumor was found in Blackshear’s lungs. Later in life, he underwent treatment at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

“It’s very hard,” Blackshear told the team website. “There’s not a day that doesn’t go by that you don’t think about death. I’m not afraid of dying, but it’s just my kids and my family. I have a lot of people that still depend on me and need me.”

Blackshear is survived by his wife, Sheila, and their children.

In a statement Saturday night, the Ravens expressed their “deepest sympathies.”

“He was a gentle giant off the field as well as a fierce competitor and tremendous teammate who played the game with passion,” the team wrote on Twitter.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun