|Position:|| Wide receiver |
|Born:||May 20, 1952|
|Height:||5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)|
|Weight:||175 lb (79 kg)|
|High school:||Holland (OH) Springfield|
|NFL Draft:||1975 / Round: 4 / Pick: 95|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics|
|Player stats at NFL.com · PFR|
Richard Upchurch (born May 20, 1952) is an American former professional football player who was a wide receiver for the Denver Broncos (1975–1983) of the National Football League (NFL). Before his NFL career, he played for Centerville Community College in Centerville, Iowa, and the University of Minnesota and went to high school at Springfield High School in Holland, Ohio. In 2000, Upchurch was named one of the 300 best NFL players of all time.
In his nine NFL seasons, Upchurch excelled as a receiver and a kick returner on special teams. In his rookie season, he rushed for 97 yards, caught 18 passes for 436 yards, returned 27 punts for 312 yards, and added another 1,014 yards returning kickoffs. In his second season, he set an NFL record by returning four punts for touchdowns and made the Pro Bowl. In the 1977 season, he led the NFL with 653 punt return yards and assisted his team to their first ever Super Bowl appearance. The Broncos lost Super Bowl XII to the Dallas Cowboys 27-10, but he had a good performance in the game. Upchurch amassed 125 total offensive yards (94 kickoff return, 22 punt return, 9 receiving), including a Super Bowl record 67-yard kickoff return in the 3rd quarter that set up Denver's only touchdown of the game.
Upchurch stayed with the Broncos until the 1983 season. He led the NFL in punt return average twice (1978 and 1982), and was selected to the Pro Bowl three more times (1978, 1979, 1982). He finished his nine-season career with 49 carries for 349 rushing yards, 267 receptions for 4,369 yards, 248 punt returns for 3,008 yards, and 95 kickoff returns for 2,355 yards. Overall, Upchurch gained 10,081 total yards and scored 35 touchdowns: eight returning punts, 24 receiving, and three rushing. He was also selected All-Pro five times. At the time of his retirement, he was the NFL's career leader in punt return yards, and his eight punt returns for touchdowns tied the NFL record shared by Jack Christiansen. He is one of five players to record a career average of over 12 yards per punt return.
After his retirement, Upchurch coached football at Tabor College in Hillsboro, Kansas. In 2005, Upchurch became the head football coach at East High School in Pueblo, Colorado posting a 1-19 record in his two seasons as head coach. Upchurch currently resides in Mesquite, Nevada, and frequently visits nearby communities such as St. George, Utah, and Logandale, Nevada, to sign autographs for Broncos fans. Upchurch is ranked the sixth-greatest return specialist in NFL history on NFL Network's NFL Top 10 Return Aces.
Rick Upchurch holds 11 Broncos franchise records, including:
Upchurch dated and was briefly engaged to the former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in the 1970s. She left him because, according to her biographer Marcus Mabry, "She knew the relationship wasn't going to work."He is currently married and has four children.
Super Bowl XII was an American football game between the National Football Conference (NFC) champion Dallas Cowboys and the American Football Conference (AFC) champion Denver Broncos to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion for the 1977 season. The Cowboys defeated the Broncos 27–10 to win their second Super Bowl. The game was played on January 15, 1978, at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans. This was the first Super Bowl in a domed stadium, and the first time that the game was played in prime time in the Eastern United States.
Roland "Champ" Bailey Jr. is a former American football cornerback in the National Football League (NFL). He played college football for Georgia, where he earned consensus All-America honors, and was drafted by the Washington Redskins in the first round of the 1999 NFL Draft. He is the brother of former NFL linebacker Boss Bailey.
Allen Bonshaca Lamont Rossum is a former American football cornerback and return specialist. He was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the third round of the 1998 NFL Draft. He played college football at Notre Dame.
Damieon Dante Hall is a former American football return specialist and wide receiver who played nine seasons in the National Football League (NFL). He is nicknamed the "Human Joystick" and the "X-Factor". Hall was a fifth-round draft pick out of Texas A&M University by the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2000 NFL Draft. Hall played for the Chiefs for seven years before being traded to the St. Louis Rams on April 25, 2007, for the Rams' third and fifth-round picks in the 2007 NFL Draft. Hall was ranked the 10th greatest return specialist in NFL history on NFL Network's NFL Top 10 Return Aces.
Darren Lee Sproles is an American football executive and former running back and return specialist who is currently a personnel consultant for the Philadelphia Eagles of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at Kansas State, where he is the all-time leading rusher, and was drafted by the San Diego Chargers in the fourth round of the 2005 NFL Draft. He also played for the New Orleans Saints and the Eagles.
Jermaine Edward Lewis is a retired American football wide receiver who played in the National Football League. He was drafted in the fifth round of the 1996 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens, who he played for until 2001. With the Ravens, he won Super Bowl XXXV over the New York Giants. He played college football at Maryland.
Derrick James Mason is an American former professional football player who was a wide receiver for fifteen seasons in the National Football League (NFL). He was drafted by the Tennessee Oilers in the fourth round of the 1997 NFL Draft after playing college football for the Michigan State Spartans. Following eight seasons with the Oilers franchise, including two Pro Bowl selections, Mason signed with the Baltimore Ravens in 2005. He became the Ravens' all-time leading receiver with 5,777 yards from 2005 to 2010. He spent 2011 with the New York Jets and Houston Texans. Mason retired as a Baltimore Raven on June 11, 2012. He was the last active NFL player to have played for the Oilers.
James Brooks is an American former professional football player who was a running back in the National Football League (NFL). He earned four Pro Bowl selections. He played college football for the Auburn Tigers.
Brian Keith Mitchell is a former American football running back and return specialist in the National Football League. He was originally drafted by the Washington Redskins in the fifth round of the 1990 NFL Draft. He played college football at University of Southwestern Louisiana where he was a quarterback. Mitchell is considered one of the greatest return specialists in NFL history.
Darrien Jamal Gordon is a former professional American Football player who played cornerback for 10 seasons in the National Football League (1993–2002). During his NFL career, he played for 5 different teams and in 4 Super Bowls. Before his NFL career, Gordon played for Stanford University, where he intercepted 9 passes in three seasons. Since the NFL Scouting Combine began in 1985, he is one of three players who have been drafted in the first round after not being invited to the combine.
Michael McColly "Butch" Johnson is a former American football wide receiver in the National Football League for the Dallas Cowboys and Denver Broncos. He played college football at the University of California, Riverside and was drafted in the third round of the 1976 NFL Draft.
Otis Armstrong is a former American football running back in the National Football League (NFL). He was selected in the 1st round in the 1973 NFL Draft. He played for the Denver Broncos for his entire career from 1973 to 1980.
Theodore Ginn Jr. is an American football wide receiver who is a free agent. He played college football at Ohio State and was drafted by the Miami Dolphins ninth overall in the 2007 NFL Draft. Ginn has also played for the San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, and Chicago Bears as a return specialist and wide receiver.
Joshua Cribbs is a former American football return specialist and wide receiver. He played college football for Kent State University, and was signed by the Cleveland Browns as an undrafted free agent in 2005. He has tied the NFL career record with eight kickoff returns for touchdowns, and also the NFL record with two kickoffs of 100 yards or more returned for touchdowns in a single game. He has also played for the New York Jets, Oakland Raiders and Indianapolis Colts. He was most recently a special teams coaching intern for the Cleveland Browns.
Charles John Priefer is an American former football coach who held a variety of defensive and special teams coaching positions at the college and professional levels of the sport, including 17 seasons in the National Football League (NFL).
Stephen Odom is a former American football wide receiver and kick returner in the National Football League. He played college football for Utah, where he twice finished second in the country in receiving touchdowns with 11 his sophomore and 8 his junior year, and led the country in kickoff returns in 1972. He was a first-team All-American and Academic All-American in 1973. At the time of graduation, he held records for touchdowns (26), receiving yards in a game, receiving touchdowns in a season and career (19), longest kickoff return, most career punt return yards (548), longest punt return, most career kickoff returns (99) and yards (2,582), and most yards per catch in a season. Odom was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the 5th round of the 1974 draft, where he played five seasons, and one with the New York Giants (1979). He went to the Pro Bowl after the 1974 season. He had both a punt and a kick return of 95 yards for a touchdown during his time with the Packers.
Jacoby Rashi'd Jones is a former American football wide receiver and return specialist. He played college football at Lane College, and was drafted by the Houston Texans in the third round of the 2007 NFL Draft. He played for the Texans from 2007 to 2011. Jones then played for the Baltimore Ravens from 2012 to 2014, and was selected for the Pro Bowl in 2012. He is known for two of the most memorable plays in the 2012 NFL playoffs as a member of the Ravens: catching a 70-yard game-tying touchdown pass in the final seconds of regulation in the AFC Divisional playoff game against the Denver Broncos, which helped lead the Ravens to an eventual 38–35 double overtime victory; and a 108-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in Super Bowl XLVII against the San Francisco 49ers, the longest play in Super Bowl history. He also played for the San Diego Chargers and Pittsburgh Steelers in 2015 and the Monterrey Steel of the National Arena League in 2017.
Trindon Jerard Holliday is a former American football wide receiver and return specialist. He was drafted by the Houston Texans in the sixth round of the 2010 NFL draft. He played college football at LSU. At 5'5", Holliday is one of the shortest players in NFL history. He has also played for the Denver Broncos, New York Giants, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, San Francisco 49ers, and Oakland Raiders.
A return specialist or kick returner is a player on the special teams unit of a gridiron football team who specializes in returning punts and kickoffs. There are few players who are exclusively return specialists; most also play another position such as wide receiver, defensive back, or running back. The special teams counterpart of a return specialist is a kicking specialist.
William Edward "Eddie" Royal is an American former football wide receiver and return specialist. He was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the second round of the 2008 NFL Draft. He played college football at Virginia Tech. Royal has also played for the San Diego Chargers and Chicago Bears.