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Ex-NFL Star Killed

Jan. 1, 1964 - Ex-football star Tony Parrilli was shot and killed and fullback Joe Marconi of the world champion Chicago Bears was knocked unconscious today in a scuffle at a plush bowling alley in Willowbrook, Ill., owned by Bear star Mike Ditka. The fatal shot, which police said was accidental, was fired by Police Chief Robert Winthers of suburban Willowbrook. Winthers said he hit a man, apparently Marconi, over the head with his pistol as he attempted to break up a scuffle in the men’s room. The gun went off, and the bullet struck Parrilli over the left eye, killing him instantly. Investigators were seeking an unidentified man — apparently a New York Giant fan — who suffered a split lip in an exchange of blows with Parrilli and walked away in the confusion that followed the shooting. Marconi, the bruising back who played a major role in winning the NFL championship for the Bears over the Giants last Sunday, was carried from the room in a daze, blood pouring from a head wound. He was taken to nearby Hinsdale Sanitarium, where eight stitches closed the wound.

The shooting came at the end of a party at the Willowbrook Bowling Lanes in the western Chicago suburb. Parrilli, 24, an ex-Bear, had gone to the lanes with Ditka, Marconi, and Bear defensive end Ed O’Bradovich. Their wives were with them. Charles Purcell, bowling alley manager, said Parrilli got into an argument with an unidentified man who needled the Bear players. Mrs. Marconi said her husband was dining shortly after 1 a.m. when a man came by their table and said Ditka was involved “in a little scramble in the rest room.” Marconi went to investigate. He said he found three men in the room, one of them, Parrilli, who said: “It’s okay, Joe.” “I said ‘come on, let’s go’ and stepped into the room,” Marconi said. “Then I heard a pop, and I thought I was hit with a pop bottle. I went down.” Chief Winthers, stationed at the $800,000 bowling alley, said he had just “grabbed a handful of arms” trying to stop the fight and had got out his gun intending to use it as a club if necessary.

Parrilli, a 6-foot, 228-pound linebacker, was voted the most valuable player of the 1961 University of Illinois football team. But he was never a success in pro football. Mrs. Marconi said he was just about to start a new job.


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