The Broncos again went to the AFC playoffs, losing the first round to the eventual champions Steelers. Alzado had 77 tackles and 9 sacks and recorded his first NFL safety. (Alzado would record two more in his career, which ties him in second place all-time). He was 2nd team All-Pro and a consensus All-AFC pick. In 1979 he had a contract dispute, and the Broncos traded him to the Cleveland Browns.
He played well with the Browns, making second team All-AFC in 1979 while playing defensive end. Alzado had 80 tackles in that year to go with his seven sacks. The following year the Browns won the AFC Central division, losing to the Raiders in the Divisional round. Alzado led the Browns in sacks with nine, and was All-Pro and All-AFC. In 1981 he suffered some injuries, and at times his focus on football was diminished because of problems in his private life. Still, he recorded 83 tackles and led the Browns in sacks with 8½. However, the Browns traded him to the Los Angeles Raiders in 1982.
Los Angeles Raiders
Being discarded by the Browns rekindled a fire in Lyle, and he worked out with a vengeance. In 1982 Alzado was voted the NFL Comeback Player of the Year. Although he played a full season in 1981, his play was seemingly so superior in 1982 that he garnered the award. In the strike-shortened 1982 season of 9 games, Alzado recorded 7 sacks and 30 tackles while being voted All-AFC. This was the sixth season out of his first twelve campaigns that he received some sort of post-season honor.
Lyle was one of the fiercest competitors the NFL has ever seen. In fact, due to Alzado throwing an opponent's helmet across the field, the league instituted a rule specifically banning the act.
He continued to perform well for the Raiders in the 1983 season, helping lead them to a Super Bowl that year while recording 50 tackles and 7½ sacks. He also had an outstanding 1984 season with 63 tackles and 6 sacks, but was injured part way through 1985 and retired at the end of the year. His tackle and sack totals dipped to 31 and 3.
When asked about the NFL, Alzado told sportswriter Mike Morrow of the Press-Enterprise, Riverside, Calif., that "it ain't no fondue party." The comment drew league-wide attention.
By any definition it was an excellent career, nearing 1,000 tackles, recording 112½ sacks and forcing 24 fumbles. He played in two Super Bowls and emerged a winner once. He attempted a comeback in 1990, but injured a knee during training camp and was released. After this he retired for good. However, his admitted use of anabolic steroids from the time he was in college has tainted his career achievements for some.
Alzado is probably most remembered today for being one of the first major U.S. sports figures to admit using steroids. In the last years of his life, as he battled against the brain tumor that eventually caused his death at the age of 43, Alzado asserted that his steroid abuse directly led to his fatal illness, but his physician stated it could not possibly be true. According to some reports, Alzado was using natural growth hormone, harvested from human corpses, as opposed to synthetic growth hormones. However, shortly before his death, Alzado recounted his steroid abuse in an article in Sports Illustrated. He said:
“ I started taking anabolic steroids in 1969 and never stopped. It was addicting, mentally addicting. Now I'm sick, and I'm scared. Ninety percent of the athletes I know are on the stuff. We're not born to be 300 lbs or jump 30 ft. But all the time I was taking steroids, I knew they were making me play better. I became very violent on the field and off it. I did things only crazy people do. Once a guy sideswiped my car and I beat the hell out of him. Now look at me. My hair's gone, I wobble when I walk and have to hold on to someone for support, and I have trouble remembering things. My last wish? That no one else ever dies this way."