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Former Steelers player, 49ers executive Paul Martha dies at 80

Pittsburgh Steelers v Baltimore Ravens

BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 29: Pittsburgh Steelers helmets are seen on the sideline before the game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium on December 29, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

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Former Steelers safety John “Paul” Martha died Saturday in Pittsburgh, the University of Pittsburgh announced. He was 80.

The Steelers selected the University of Pittsburgh product in the first round of the 1964 draft. The Bills made him a ninth-round choice in the AFL draft that same year.

Martha chose to sign with the Steelers, and ended up playing in all three phases of football in the NFL.

As a safety, he made 21 interceptions, 10 forced fumbles and nine fumble recoveries in his seven-year career. On offense, Martha caught 17 passes for 316 yards and had six rushes for 15 yards. On special teams, he returned 16 punts for 64 yards and 21 kickoffs for 468 yards.

The Steelers traded Martha to the Broncos in 1970 after six seasons, and he finished his career with one season in Denver.

Martha, who received a law degree from Duquesne University, became a lawyer in Pittsburgh after his retirement from football. He worked for the Reed, Smith, Shaw and McClay law firm and for Edward J. DeBartolo Sr. as general counsel for the DeBartolo Corp.

He was executive vice president, general counsel and CEO of the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1977 before the 49ers hired him as executive vice president and general counsel in 1978. He was with the 49ers during their 1981, 1984 and 1988 Super Bowl victories.

Martha later was General Manager of the Pittsburgh Maulers of the USFL and he had a hand in mediations between the NFLPA and NFL owners in helping settle the 1982 strike.