Mel Farr, former Lions Pro Bowl running back, dies at age 70

— -- Former Detroit Lions running back Mel Farr has died at age 70, the franchise announced late Monday.

Farr was the No. 7 overall pick in the 1967 draft by the Lions out of UCLA and went on to play seven seasons in Detroit. He made two Pro Bowls and was named the NFL offensive rookie of the year in 1967.

He rushed 739 times in his career for 3,072 yards and 26 touchdowns. He also caught 146 passes for 1,374 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Farr is the second Lions great to die in the past month. Hall of Fame tight end Charlie Sanders died of cancer in July. reported Monday evening that Farr was at Sanders' funeral last month.

The Lions said Farr died Monday afternoon.

"The entire Lions family is saddened by the passing of Mel Farr," team president Tom Lewand said in a statement Tuesday. "As both a player and a businessman, Mel was blessed with many talents and a personality to match. His energetic presence in Detroit, both on the field during his playing career and off the field for decades after, was unique and unmistakable.

"Mel truly lived a life of distinction and will be missed. Our deepest sympathies go out to Jasmine, his children and all his family and friends."

After Farr's playing career ended, he owned the Mel Farr Automotive Group in the Detroit area and was known for his "Mel Farr, Superstar" commercials in which he often would don a red cape. Farr's auto dealerships, which focused on leasing cars to people with poor credit, garnered enough attention that the business was written about in The New York Times in 1999. According to a 1999 Associated Press report, Farr's automotive business became the largest African-American-owned business in the United States.

Farr said in a May interview on the "Drive with Jack" radio show that at one point, his company brought in more than $600 million in sales and at his highest point owned "15 or 16" car dealerships.

Along with former teammate Lem Barney, Farr also earned a gold record for their backup vocals on Marvin Gaye's 1971 hit, "What's Going On."

Farr was inducted into the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame in 1988. He was a consensus All-American in 1966.