Rucker at the 2011 Greater Cleveland Sports Awards
No. 88, 83, 33
|Date of birth:September 21, 1947|
|Place of birth: Washington, D. C.|
|High school: Washington (DC) Anacostia|
|College: Boston University|
|Undrafted in 1969|
|Debuted in 1970 for the Dallas Cowboys|
|Last played in 1981 for the Cleveland Browns|
Career NFL statistics
|Stats at pro-football-reference.com|
Reginald Joseph Rucker (born September 21, 1947) is a former professional American football wide receiver. He played in twelve National Football League seasons from 1970–1981, for the Cleveland Browns, New England Patriots, New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys. He played college football for Boston University.
As a sophomore, he broke a New England major college record with three punts returned for touchdowns in a season. In his final year, his team included Bruce Taylor, Pat Hughes, Fred Barry and Barry Pryor who would go on to play in the NFL.
In 1978, he was inducted into the Boston University Athletic Hall of Fame.
Rucker signed as an undrafted free agent with the Dallas Cowboys in 1969 and joined the taxi squad. The next year he broke his left wrist during preseason, which forced the team to place him again in the taxi squad. He eventually was promoted to the active roster and became a starter in place of the troubled Lance Rentzel for the last two games of the regular season (ahead of former first round draft choice Dennis Homan), including the Cowboys' playoff drive and its narrow Super Bowl V loss to the Baltimore Colts.
In 1971, the Cowboys traded Rentzel and in a separate deal obtained future hall of famer Lance Alworth as part of the "Bambi trade" in May. The move would eventually force the team to waive Rucker on October 2, opting to keep wide receiver Gloster Richardson instead.
New York Giants
New England Patriots
In 1973, he had a breakout performance with 53 reception (sixth in the league) for 743 yards (eighth in the league).
After breaking his right wrist in the fourth game of the 1974 season against the Baltimore Colts, he played the next six games with a cast until being placed on the injured reserve list on November 18, 1974.
It was reported that a disagreement between head coach Chuck Fairbanks and Rucker about being placed on injured reserve, was the reason that led the Patriots to trade him to the Cleveland Browns on January 28, 1975, in exchange for a fourth round draft choice (#86-Allen Carter).
In 1975, he finished with 60 receptions, ranking second (first among wide receivers) in the NFL, even though he played with cartilage damage in his knee (suffered in training camp), that required offseason surgery the following year.
In 1978, he was one of the people that recommended the hiring of new head coach Sam Rutigliano to team owner Art Modell. That season he finished sixth in the NFL with 893 receiving yards and fourth with 20.8 yards per catch.
At the end of the 1981 season, knee injuries made him lose his starting job to Ricky Feacher. On September 2, 1982, he announced his retirement rather than accept a backup role. He registered 310 receptions (at the time second most in franchise history) in 103 games (seven seasons) with the Browns, for 4,953 yards (16 yards avg.) and 32 touchdowns.
Rucker has been a part of the Cleveland media since his retirement. He was a color analyst for the Cleveland Indians baseball team from 1982-1984. (It was believed that since Rucker was a popular player with the Browns, his presence would increase the ratings for Indians broadcasts on WUAB Channel 43.) He also served as an analyst for NBC's NFL coverage from 1983-1988.
He hosted a nightly sports talk show on the then new WKNR AM 1220 (since moved to 850) in the early 1990s. After a hiatus, Rucker returned to the Cleveland airwaves as a football analyst for WEWS Channel 5 covering both the Browns and the Ohio State Buckeyes since 2004.
- "Rucker Retires After 12 Years". Youngstown Vindicator. September 3, 1982. Retrieved October 25, 2010.
- "SPORTS PEOPLE; Back Afflictions". New York Times. September 3, 1982. Retrieved October 25, 2010.
- "Alzado joins NBC team; Rucker, Randolph booted". USA Today. July 17, 1989. Retrieved October 25, 2010.