Jim Ridlon

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Jim Ridlon
No. 42
Personal information
Born: (1934-07-11) July 11, 1934 (age 84)
Nanuet, New York
Height:6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight:181 lb (82 kg)
Career information
High school:Nyack (Nyack, New York)
NFL Draft:1957 / Round: 4 / Pick: 39
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Games played:89
Player stats at NFL.com
Player stats at PFR

James Arthur Ridlon (born July 11, 1934) is a former American football safety in the National Football League for the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys. He played college football at Syracuse University. After football he became a sports painter and sculptor.

Early years[edit]

Ridlon had to overcome a dyslexia and a stuttering problem throughout his first years of school. He attended Nyack High School, where he received All-County recognition as a quarterback in football and a guard in basketball.

He accepted a football scholarship from Syracuse University. He played offensive end as a sophomore. The next year, he was moved to halfback in the same backfield with Jim Brown, registering a school record 3 touchdown receptions in one game.

As a senior in a game against Holy Cross, he scored in three different ways (reception, run and interception). He posted 6 interceptions in the season. He finished his college career with 103 carries for 391 yards, 3 rushing touchdowns, 17 receptions for 357 yards, 3 receiving touchdowns, 6-of-11 completions for 139 yards, 2 passing touchdowns and one interception.

In 1990, he was inducted into the Syracuse University Sports Hall of Fame.[1]

Professional career[edit]

San Francisco 49ers[edit]

Ridlon was selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the fourth round (39th overall) of the 1957 NFL Draft. In his second season, he was a starter at safety, registering 4 interceptions and 2 fumble recoveries. He would mostly have a reserve role in the following seasons.

In 1962, he appeared in 9 games (6 starts), posting one interception and one fumble recovery. He suffered 2 broken vertebrae in the 24-17 win against the Los Angeles Rams during the tenth game, missing the rest of the season.

On April 30, 1963, he was traded to the Dallas Cowboys in exchange for linebacker Mike Dowdle, who was a former 49ers draft choice.[2]

Dallas Cowboys[edit]

In 1963, head coach Tom Landry traded for him because he considered Ridlon one of the smartest players in the NFL.[3] He was mostly a backup until Cornell Green was moved to cornerback, appearing in 7 games with 4 starts.

In 1964, he intercepted 4 passes and received All-NFL honors in some publications. He returned an interception for a 74-yard touchdown and a fumble for a 63-yard touchdown, becoming the first player in franchise history to score 2 defensive touchdowns in the same season. On April 16, 1965, he announced his retirement to become a faculty member and assistant football coach at Syracuse University.

Artistic career[edit]

After his football career, he became a sports painter and sculptor. In 1988, he was commissioned to design and sculpt the Outland Trophy, which has become one of college football's most prestigious awards.

Personal life[edit]

In 1965, he returned to Syracuse University to teach art classes and double as a backfield coach for the football team under Ben Schwartzwalder for 6 years. He was a professor of painting, sculpture and design in Syracuse's College of Arts and Sciences between 1965 and 2000.[4] He also wrote a novel and worked as a color commentator on the Syracuse University football radio broadcasts for over 20 years.

In 2015, he received the Tom Osborne Legacy Award by the Rotary Club of Omaha and the Greater Omaha Sports Committee.[5]


  1. ^ "Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame bio". Retrieved February 3, 2018.
  2. ^ "Jim Ridon Traded". Retrieved February 3, 2018.
  3. ^ "Jim Ridlon takes his talents from the football field to the art studio". Retrieved February 3, 2018.
  4. ^ "Former Syracuse football player will receive 'Tom Osborne Legacy Award'". Retrieved February 3, 2018.
  5. ^ "Jim Ridlon to Receive Tom Osborne Legacy Award". Retrieved February 3, 2018.

External links[edit]