Tom Keating, a former All-Pro defensive lineman for the Raiders who had a distinct four-point stance with both hands on the ground, died Friday, two days shy of his 70th birthday. He died of prostate cancer at a hospice in Denver with family members by his bedside.
He and teammate and close friend Ben Davidsonwere diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer within two weeks of each other and died two months apart.
The two defensive linemen would motorcycle through Mexico, Panama and the United States during the offseason. During their playing days, Davidson was also a regular at dinner at Keating's Alameda house, a social event that would welcome a range of guests, from actor Nick Nolte and writer Peter Gent to teammates Ken Stabler and Fred Biletnikoff.
A Chicago native and three-year starter at Michigan, Keating was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in 1964. He left after two seasons to play for the Raiders from 1966 to 1972.
Keating started at defensive tackle in the 1967 season in which the Raiders went 13-1, beat the Houston Oilers 40-7 in the AFL Championship Game and lost 33-14 to the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl II.
The defensive line of Mr. Keating, Davidson, Dan Birdwell and Ike Lassiter led a defense that gave up the fewest yards rushing and the fewest rushing yards per attempt in the AFL. Oakland also had 67 sacks and finished third in fewest passing yards and second in least points allowed.
Mr. Keating was a first-team AFL All-Star in 1967 and played in the AFL All-Star Game in 1966 and 1967. He also played for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Kansas City Chiefs. He retired after the 1975 season.
In his later years, he worked as a private investigator for a law firm before opening his own agency in Walnut Creek.
Since 2008, Mr. Keating started spending several months of the year in Limoux, a small town in southern France. He made some new friends, bicycled, cooked and enjoyed the local wines, his brother Bill Keating said.
Mr. Keating asked his family members that his ashes be spread in the Aude River, which runs through Limoux, and along his favorite cycling route from Limoux to St. Polycarpe.
"When Tom passed on, it cheered my heart to imagine that he was really just taking the road to St. Polycarpe," said Bill Keating, an attorney in Denver who played for the Denver Broncos and Miami Dolphins. "There are vineyards that border the road to St. Polycarpe, and we will spread some of his ashes in the best of them."