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James David, 79, Lions All-Star

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- James David, a six-time Pro Bowl defensive back who won three NFL championships with the Detroit Lions, died yesterday at his home after a long illness, the team said. He was 79.

Chosen in the 22d of the 1952 NFL draft, Mr. David was a starter at left cornerback during seven of his eight seasons. The Lions won NFL championships in 1952, '53, and '57 with Mr. David as a starter. He was selected to the Pro Bowl after each of his last six seasons, while playing in a backfield that featured Hall of Famers Jack Christiansen and Yale Lary.

Nicknamed "The Hatchet" for his hard-hitting style of play, he ranks fifth on the Lions' career interceptions list with 36, and Mr. David's six Pro Bowl trips are good for eighth on the team's all-time list.

"When you talk about great players from that era, you always talk about Jimmy," Lions owner and chairman William Clay Ford said in a statement. "He was the epitome of a team player. Jimmy would do anything for his teammates and anything to help the Lions win."

A native of South Carolina, Mr. David played at Colorado A&M. In his senior year, he was second in the nation in number of receptions.

After retiring from the Lions, Mr. David went into coaching and returned to Detroit in 1967 as defensive coordinator after stints with the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco. He left coaching after the 1972 season.

Funeral arrangements were incomplete.