The Edmonton Eskimos confirmed Monday that David Boone, a member of the famed 'Alberta Crude' defensive line, has died at age 53.

Boone's body was discovered by a neighbour early Saturday on the deck of his home in Point Roberts, Wash., a resort community within view of Vancouver.

The cause of death remains unknown.

"He was in chronic pain for a long time," said Kelly Ellis, Boone's next-door neighbour for five years.

"He was a very private, very proud person. He died tragically."

Boone combined with Ron Estay, Dave Fennell and Bill Stevenson to form the most formidable front four of that generation, one affectionately coined Alberta Crude.

He also played for the British Columbia Lions, Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Ottawa Rough Riders.

"David was a great player on some of the best teams the CFL has seen," related Eskimos chief executive officer Hugh Campbell, who oversaw the Grey Cup dynasty as head coach.

"And he was an even better person off the field. He will be missed by our organization."

"I wouldn't have been nearly the linebacker I was allowed to be and reap the awards I did if it wasn't for David Boone," said Eskimos linebacker coach Dan Kepley, who, like Boone, was a defensive mainstay during Edmonton's record run of five Grey Cups from 1978-82.

"He was an integral part of the Edmonton defence for all those years. He played this game with a tremendous amount of passion and courage. He was everything you wanted as a teammate."

Boone was CFL all-star in 1981, a three-time West Division all-star (1977, 1979, 1981) and recipient of the Tom Pate Award in 1982.

In 1974, he earned an NFC Championship ring as an NFL rookie with the Minnesota Vikings, 24-7 losers to the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl VIII.

with files from CP Online