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Former Giants all-pro Poole dies of cancer at 86

JACKSON, Miss. -- Ray Smith Poole, a former New York Giants All-Pro end and three-sport star at the University of Mississippi, died Wednesday. He was 86.

Ole Miss officials said he died of cancer.

Poole played baseball and basketball at Ole Miss, where his football career was interrupted by three years of service with the Marines in World War II. After his pro career he returned to Oxford as a football coach, working for longtime Ole Miss coach Johnny Vaught.

"Coach Poole was one of my coaches when I played a few years ago," Ole Miss athletic director Pete Boone said. "In fact, he has been an integral part of Ole Miss athletics for over five decades. His presence will be greatly missed."

Poole grew up in Gloster in southwestern Mississippi and earned 11 letters in his career at Ole Miss. He was a guard and center for the basketball team, leading the Rebels in scoring in 1943 and he was 5-2 as a pitcher in 1946.

It was on the football field where he made his most significant impact.

He returned to Ole Miss after three years in the service and was captain of the football team in 1946. He was all-Southeastern Conference and turned pro after being taken by the New York Giants in the 13th round of the 1944 NFL draft. He played for the Giants from 1947-52 and the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League in 1953-54.

He was an All-Pro in both leagues. He caught 83 passes for 1,164 yards in 71 NFL games and finished with 223 career points, including nine touchdowns, 27 field goals and 86 extra points.

Poole also was drafted by the Chicago Cubs but never made it to the major leagues.

He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Wanda England; son Ray Jr.; daughter Patti; a sister; and three grandchildren.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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