Ben Davidson From ‘Conan The Barbarian’ Inspired An NFL Rule Before His Death At 72


Few warriors seen in the impressive roster of Conan the Barbarian stand a chance at holding a candle against Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s Conan himself. But with Ben Davidson at the helm, Rexor can actually hold not just a candle, but an impressive torch. Part of that comes from his physique, which actually tells part of Davidson’s story beyond Conan the Barbarian. So, just what did he get up to beyond the famous 1982 film?

Davidson was born on June 14, 1940, in Los Angeles, California. Believe it or not, being born right on Hollywood’s doorstep didn’t get Davidson started on a career in acting before anything else – instead, he pursued something a little different: sports. Pretty quickly in life, Davidson found himself standing at a towering 6’8, which inspired in him a keen interest in basketball and track. For a time, football remained out of the realm of possibility because of that impressive stature. But his time would come.


What is the Davidson rule in the NFL?

Ben Davidson started off as a football star who changed the game / Wikipedia / Public Domain

Because of his height, Davidson did not play football in high school. However, while Davidson was attending junior college at East Los Angeles College, a football coach spotted him and recruited him for the University of Washington football team. Under coach Jim Owens, the team won the Rose Bowl again and again and qualified for the professional league.


RELATED: The Cast of ‘Conan The Barbarian’ Then And Now 2022

Davidson was selected in the fourth round of drafts by the New York Giants but ended up with the equally larger-than-life Green Bay Packers. But it’s time with the American Football League Oakland Raiders that’s probably most famous. This is also when he changed the landscape of football while playing against the Kansas City Chiefs.

NECESSARY ROUGHNESS, (back row l-r): Dick Butkus, Ben Davidson, Evander Holyfield, Roger Craig, Randy White, Jerry Rice, Earl Campbell, Tony Dorsett, Ed ‘Too Tall’ Jones, (front l-r): Jim Kelly, Kathy Ireland, Robert Loggia, Scott Bakula, Hector Elizondo, Herschel Walker, 1991, (c)Paramount/courtesy Everett Collection

The Chiefs were in a match against the Raiders and needed only to run out the clock for victory. Chiefs quarterback Len Dawson secured some distance for them, then dropped to the ground. Davidson then charged in and speared him and a brawl broke out. After all the penalties were called, referees called for a do-over and the Chiefs secured victory. But football also secured new litigation, because Davidson weighed 275 pounds when he pulled that stunt and earned the nickname “the No. 1 cheap-shot artist” by Jets player Winston Hill. 1976 saw the creation of the Davidson Rule, which prohibited a player from “running or diving into, or throwing his body against or on a ball-carrier who falls or slips to the ground untouched and makes no attempt to advance, before or after the ball is dead.”

A different kind of field

Rexor vs. Conan / YouTube screenshot

Following his football career, Davidson transitioned to acting and couldn’t have started off bigger with Conan the Barbarian. Rexor served as one of the henchmen of the main antagonist Thulsa Doom, portrayed by James Earl Jones. Rexor was a fierce warrior and one of the primary adversaries faced by the protagonist, Conan, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger.

BALL FOUR, Ben Davidson, Jim Bouton, 1976. © CBS / Courtesy Everett Collection

Davidson’s imposing physical presence and rugged visage made him a suitable choice for the role and started a trend in his acting career. Conan the Barbarian served as his most prominent film appearance, but he also made guest appearances on various TV shows. Most notably, his television show roster includes the historymaker M*A*S*H, along with the short-lived Ball Four.

Davidson shortly before his death Byron Purvis/AdMedia

Davidson kept his head in the game, no matter the terrain, be it sports, football, and his personal wife. Between all his diverse activities, he married a woman named Kathy, and together they had daughters Janella, Dana, and Vicky. Sadly, on July 2, 2012, this family would mourn Davidson’s passing, as he died of prostate cancer at the age of 72, two months after his former Raiders buddy Tom Keating.

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