James Caan was an acting giant, but outside of Brian's Song, how many folks know he had a real-life connection to football, at Michigan State?

Caan's family on Thursday announced his passing on Twitter. He was 82. No cause of death was given. Depending on your age, you might remember Caan from The Godfather Trilogy as Sonny Corleone. But on social media Thursday afternoon, many people remember him for playing late Chicago Bears running back Brian Piccolo in "Brian's Song". (Many of those mentioned it was the first movie that made them cry.) Others remember him for Stephen King's "Misery". There's also "Thief", and an early movie "Cinderella Liberty". And kids would know him from "Elf".

But as word of Caan's death spread, people began posting about him coming to East Lansing and playing football at Michigan State. Graduating high school in New York at 16, according to Yahoo, "Caan went to school at MSU for two years and played football for the Spartans under the tutelage of Duffy Daugherty in 1956 where he was a quarterback. He then left East Lansing to attend Hofstra University in New York, where he met Francis Ford Coppola, director of The Godfather."

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Another story says Caan joked about his time as a Spartan quarterback, with his main purpose being a tackling dummy for his teammates.

While he didn't spend enough time at State to be in the argument for most famous alum, Caan was still a big supporter of Sparty.

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