Richmond Flowers (American football)
No. 45, 44
|Date of birth:June 13, 1947|
|Place of birth: Dothan, Alabama|
|High school: Sidney Lanier High School|
|NFL Draft: 1969 / Round: 2 / Pick: 49|
|Debuted in 1969|
|Last played in 1973|
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
|Stats at pro-football-reference.com|
|Stats at DatabaseFootball.com|
Richmond McDavid Flowers, Jr. (born June 13, 1947 in Dothan, Alabama) is a former American football Safety in the National Football League for the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants. He played college football at the University of Tennessee and was drafted in the second round of the 1969 NFL Draft.
Flowers was raised in Dothan, Houston County in southeastern Alabama, before attending Sidney Lanier High School, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama.
His father was Richmond Flowers, Sr., the Attorney General of Alabama from 1963 to 1967, and a former member of the Alabama State Senate. The senior Flowers was an intraparty rival of Governors George Wallace and Lurleen Burns Wallace, while drawing national attention in the early 1960s, when he criticized the "Stand in the Schoolhouse Door” to bar African Americans from the University of Alabama, challenged the segregationist policies of Wallace and prosecuted Ku Klux Klansmen in the killings of civil rights workers. His work against the era's conventions made him and his family a target of scorn, hate and death threats.
His early development was limited by a myriad of health problems that included: partially deaf left ear, dyslexia, asthma, anemia and had flat feet, that required him to wear heavy orthopedic shoes with reinforced arches. Those problems were eventually corrected, on his way to becoming one of the greatest athletes in Alabama High School history.
As a senior at the track and field State Championships, he set regional records in the 120-yard high hurdles, the 180-yard low hurdles and the long jump. He tied the state record in the 100 yard dash and anchored the winning 4 × 100 metres relay team. At the Gulf Coast Relays in Mobile, he set a national high school record with 13.5 seconds in the 120 high hurdles. At an open meet in Modesto, he beatBlaine Lindgren in the 42-inch hurdles, who was a silver medalist in the 1964 Summer Olympics.
As a highly touted and sought after college football recruit, Bear Bryant wanted Flowers to sign with the University of Alabama, but after his father was booed while being introduced at the Gulf Coast Relays, he decided to attend the University of Tennessee.
In 2002, he was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.
As a sophomore, he started at wingback and registered 35 receptions for 407 yards (second on the team), as he made the All-SEC sophomore team. The next year, he was the team's leading receiver with 41 receptions for 585 yards and four touchdowns, receiving All-American honors. As a senior, he moved to halfback and rushed for 375 yards (3.4 average), registered 25 receptions for 180 yards and seven touchdowns. In the sweetest moment of his football career, he scored his team only touchdown in its 10-9 win over the University of Alabama.
In 1968, as a junior he was a leading contender for the 1968 Summer Olympics in the 110 metres hurdles. Willie Davenport had dominated the previous 3 seasons but in 1968, Flowers beat him handily at several early season meets, to the point that the future gold medalist quit his college team that he thought was hurting his chances. Flowers ran the high hurdles in 13.3 seconds, a tenth of a second off the world mark and went on to win eight consecutive hurdles races, until tearing his right hamstring in a June training session. He showed up at the September high altitude Olympic Trials in Echo Summit just barely recovered, but struggled to a non-qualifying 5th place.
He graduated as the school's all-time leading receiver with 105 receptions for 1,215 yards. In 2005, he was inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. In 1998, he was named one of the 12 Living Legends for SEC football representing the University of Tennessee.
Flowers was drafted in the second round of the 1969 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys. He was selected as an athlete, so he spent his first weeks in training camp on both offense and defense, before focusing on Safety. In his first year he was mostly used on Kickoff returns (21.6 yards average), before being placed on the taxi squad to make room on the roster for an injured Bob Hayes.
In 1970, he was beat out for the free safety position by the undrafted rookie Cliff Harris. After Harris was forced to leave the team because of military service obligations, he received the opportunity to start two games, but was eventually replaced in the starting lineup by Charlie Waters. His most important play as a Cowboy came against the Cleveland Browns, when the Browns had to punt while backed up against their end zone, he replaced an injured D. D. Lewis and blocked the punt that led to a game winning a field goal, for a final score of 6-2.
New York Giants
The Washington Redskins claimed him off the waiver wire, but ended up sending him to the New York Giants on October 27, 1971, to complete the trade for Clifton McNeil. As part of the transaction, the Giants originally received a fifth, sixth, and seventh round draft choices, before accepting Flowers and returning the sixth choice back.
In 1972, he was named the starter at strong safety and had his best season in the NFL, recording 4 interceptions. In 1973, he was injured in the second game of the season and was later activated on November 10.
Houston Texans/Shreveport Steamer (WFL)
In 1974, Flowers signed with the Hawaiians of the World Football League, becoming the first NFL player to sign with the new league. His rights were later sent to the Houston Texans, where he worked in the team's front office, while his his Giants contract ran out and he could return to play. On September 23, the team relocated to Shreveport, Louisiana and changed their name to the Shreveport Steamer.
When the World Football League ceased operations, he enrolled at the University of Alabama School of Law. In 1991, CBS produced the television film "Unconquered", based on his life experiences in Alabama.
- Sielski, Mike (n. d.) "Flowers: 'Fastest white boy alive'." ESPN Classic