Ronnie Lott

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Ronnie Lott
refer to caption
Lott in 2018
No. 42
Personal information
Born: (1959-05-08) May 8, 1959 (age 64)
Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S.
Height:6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Weight:203 lb (92 kg)
Career information
High school:Eisenhower (Rialto, California)
College:USC (1977–1980)
NFL draft:1981 / Round: 1 / Pick: 8
Career history
 * Offseason and/or practice squad member only
Career highlights and awards
NFL record
Career NFL statistics
Int. return yards:730
Forced fumbles:16
Fumble recoveries:17
Player stats at · PFR

Ronald Mandel Lott (born May 8, 1959) is an American former professional football player in the National Football League (NFL) for 14 seasons during the 1980s and 1990s.

Lott played college football for the University of Southern California (USC), and was honored as a consensus All-American. A first-round pick in the 1981 NFL draft, he played for the San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Raiders, New York Jets, and Kansas City Chiefs of the NFL. Lott was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000 and the International Sports Hall of Fame in 2023,[1] and is widely considered to be one of the best of all time at the safety position in NFL history.[2][3]

Early life[edit]

Ronald Mandel Lott was born on May 8, 1959, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Lott attended Eisenhower High School in Rialto, California. While in high school, Lott played football, baseball, basketball and wrestled.[4][5]

College career[edit]

Lott played for USC from 1977 to 1980. After lettering in limited time as a Freshman in 1977, Lott made the starting lineup in 1978 and recorded 3 interceptions, assisting the team to a 12–1 record and splitting the national championship with Alabama in 1978. The 1979 season saw more success for SC. Lott recorded 3 interceptions again as a key member of an elite secondary that included future NFL players Jeff Fisher, Dennis Smith, and Joey Browner. Along with an offense that included all American quarterback Paul McDonald, Heisman winner Charles White, future Heisman winner Marcus Allen, and four future NFL first round picks in the offensive line, he helped USC finish with a 11–0–1 record and a #2 ranking in both polls, In his senior season, Lott led the nation in interceptions (8), and return yards (166) earning himself unanimous All-American honors as the team went 8–2–1 with a final ranking of #11 while the team served a one year NCAA probation.[6]

Professional career[edit]

San Francisco 49ers[edit]

Lott was selected in the first round (8th overall) of the 1981 NFL draft by the San Francisco 49ers. The level of skill demonstrated by the 6-foot, 203-pound standout was instantly recognized, and from the very beginning of training camp he had the job as the 49ers' starting left cornerback. In his rookie season in 1981, he recorded seven interceptions, helped the 49ers to win Super Bowl XVI, and also became only the second rookie in NFL history to return three interceptions for touchdowns. His outstanding play resulted in his finishing second for rookie of the year honors, behind New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor.

Lott switched to the safety position in 1985. He had the tip of his left pinky finger amputated after the 1985 season when it was crushed while tackling running back Timmy Newsome, and a bone graft surgery would not have allowed him to start the 1986 season.[7] An injury sidelined him for the season's last two games in 1986, but he still led the league with a career-best 10 interceptions, while recording 77 tackles, three forced fumbles, and two quarterback sacks. In his 10 years with the 49ers, Lott helped them win eight division titles and four Super Bowls: XVI (1981 season), XIX (1984), XXIII (1988), and XXIV (1989). He is one of five players that were on all four 1980s 49ers Super Bowl wins. The other four are quarterback Joe Montana, linebacker Keena Turner, cornerback Eric Wright, and wide receiver Mike Wilson.

Los Angeles Raiders[edit]

After his career with San Francisco, Lott signed as a free agent in 1991 with the Los Angeles Raiders. In 1991, he led the league in interceptions (8) for a second time.

New York Jets[edit]

Lott signed in 1993 with the New York Jets.

Kansas City Chiefs[edit]

Lott signed a free-agent deal with the Kansas City Chiefs in 1995, but was injured in the preseason.

San Francisco 49ers[edit]

He returned to the 49ers in 1995, but the injuries he had suffered over the previous four seasons continued to plague him, and he announced his retirement before the season began. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000, his first year of eligibility, and was also named to the NFL's 75th Anniversary Team in 1994 and the 100th Anniversary Team in 2019.

Player profile[edit]

In his 14 NFL seasons, Lott recorded 8.5 sacks and 63 interceptions, which he returned for 730 yards and five touchdowns. He recovered 17 fumbles, returned them for 43 yards, and gained 113 yards on kickoff returns. Lott also played in 20 postseason games, recording nine interceptions, 89 tackles, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, and two touchdowns. He was named All-Pro eight times, All-NFC six times, and All-AFC once. Lott had an uncanny awareness of how a play was developing, which allowed him to break up passes and earn a reputation as one of the hardest and most efficient open-field tacklers in the history of the league.

NFL career statistics[edit]

Won the Super Bowl
Led the league
Bold Career-high

Regular season[edit]

Year Team Games Tackles Interceptions Fumbles
GP GS Cmb Solo Ast Sck PD Int Yds Avg Lng TD FF FR
1981 SF 16 16 89 0.0 7 117 16.7 41T 3 0 2
1982 SF 9 9 68 0.0 2 95 47.5 83T 1 1 0
1983 SF 15 14 108 1.0 4 22 5.5 22 0 0 1
1984 SF 12 11 51 1.0 4 26 6.5 15 0 0 0
1985 SF 16 16 104 1.5 6 68 11.3 25 0 1 2
1986 SF 14 14 77 2.0 10 134 13.4 57T 1 3 0
1987 SF 12 12 55 0.0 5 62 12.4 34 0 0 2
1988 SF 13 12 74 0.0 5 59 11.8 44 0 3 4
1989 SF 11 11 42 0.0 5 34 6.8 28 0 0 0
1990 SF 11 11 53 0.0 3 26 8.6 15 0 0 1
1991 LA 16 16 93 1.0 8 52 6.5 27 0 1 1
1992 LA 16 16 103 0.0 1 0 0.0 0 0 1 1
1993 NYJ 16 16 123 1.0 3 35 11.6 29 0 4 2
1994 NYJ 15 15 106 73 33 1.0 2 1
Career 192 189 1,146 1,113 33 8.5 63 730 11.6 83 5 16 17

Broadcasting career[edit]

Lott turned to broadcasting following his retirement, serving as an analyst on Fox NFL Sunday in 1996 and 1997, and working on the network's game coverage in 1998. He is currently[when?] on a show called PAC-12 Playbook on the Pac-12 Network, an American sports-oriented digital cable and satellite television network. He also serves on the Board of Selectors of Jefferson Awards for Public Service.[8]

Personal life[edit]

Lott was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His father served a career in the United States Air Force, retiring as a Senior master sergeant.[9] He now lives in Cupertino, California, with his wife, Karen, and his children, Hailey, Isaiah, and Chloe. USA Today praised him as "one of the most successful athletes at making the transition to business." Along with former teammates Harris Barton and Joe Montana, Lott was a managing partner and a founder of HRJ Capital. Lott owns Toyota, Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai car dealerships. He advises professional athletes who are making a transition to the business world. Lott is also the father of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Ryan Nece.

In 1991, Lott, along with Jill Lieber, wrote an autobiography, Total Impact.[10] Lott inspired the Lott IMPACT Trophy, which is given annually by the Pacific Club IMPACT Foundation to college football's Defensive IMPACT Player of the Year. The trophy was first awarded in 2004.[11] Lott was the guest of honor at a CYO fundraiser at Sharon Heights Country Club in Menlo Park, CA in May 2012 where he discussed the importance of helping the community. Lott credits the late Coach Ben Parks as a central figure in the development of his vigorous philanthropic work. On February 17, 2015, he was appointed to the Board of Directors of GSV Capital Corporation, now known as SuRo Capital Corp., a publicly traded investment fund.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Dr. Robert M. Goldman. "2023 International Sports Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony (Full Program) Official Footage". YouTube. Retrieved March 17, 2023.
  2. ^ Phillips, Roger (November 6, 2003). "49ers announce plan to retire Lott's No. 42". Oakland Tribune. Archived from the original on September 24, 2015. Retrieved May 8, 2015.
  3. ^ Freeman, Mike (January 30, 2000). "Montana And Lott Lead Way Into Hall". New York Times. Retrieved October 3, 2009.
  4. ^ Donahue, Ben. (September 30, 2021). The Life And Career Of Ronnie Lott (Complete Story). Pro Football History. Retrieved June 4, 2023.
  5. ^ Abbott, Gary. (September 5, 2013). USAW announces inaugural All-Time NFL Honor Roll. InterMat. Retrieved June 4, 2023.
  6. ^ Ronnie Lott Sports Reference
  7. ^ Klemko, Robert (June 17, 2014). "Ronnie Lott's Amputated Pinkie Finger". Sports Illustrated. Archived from the original on August 15, 2022.
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on November 24, 2010. Retrieved November 19, 2013.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ Lieber, Jill (January 23, 1989). "Hitter With Heart". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved November 9, 2013.
  10. ^ Lott, Ronnie; Lieber, Jill (1991). Total Impact. Doubleday. p. 301. ISBN 0-385-42055-2.
  11. ^ "Home".
  12. ^ "GSV Capital Corp". Retrieved May 8, 2015.

External links[edit]