Rucker at the 2011 Greater Cleveland Sports Awards
|No. 88, 83, 33|
|Born:||September 21, 1947|
Washington, D. C.
|Height:||6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)|
|Weight:||195 lb (88 kg)|
|High school:||Washington (DC) Anacostia|
|Career NFL statistics|
|Player stats at PFR|
Reginald Joseph Rucker (born September 21, 1947) is a former professional American football wide receiver in the National Football League for the Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, New England Patriots and Cleveland Browns. He played college football at Boston University.
Rucker attended Anacostia High School before moving on to Boston University. He was a four sport athlete (football, baseball, track and basketball), making him the school's first four sport athlete in more than 20 years.
In football, he contributed to an undefeated season by the freshman team. As a sophomore, his first play in a varsity game was a 71-yard punt return for a touchdown against the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He went on to break a New England major college record with three punts returned for touchdowns in a season.
In 1978, he was inducted into the Boston University Athletic Hall of Fame.
Rucker was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Dallas Cowboys after the 1969 NFL Draft. As a rookie, he spent the season in the taxi squad until being activated for the Playoff Bowl against the Los Angeles Rams.
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 third 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.
In August 2016, Rucker was sentenced to 21 months in prison for embezzling money from the Cleveland Peacemakers Alliance and other nonprofits. He was released in May 2018, and filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in November 2018.
- "Calvin Hill Cracks Lineup; Dallas to Player Limit". Retrieved February 19, 2018.
- "Staubach Not 'Clear' About Packer Tilt". Retrieved February 19, 2018.
- "Cowboys' Joyride Ends Up in Miami". Retrieved February 19, 2018.
- "Cowboys Activate Alworth, Cut One". Retrieved February 19, 2018.
- "Giants Drop Longo, Add Reggie Rucker". Retrieved February 19, 2018.
- "Crabtree, Rucker Acquired By Pats". Retrieved February 19, 2018.
- "Cunningham, Rucker, Schubert Placed On Injured Reserve List". Retrieved February 19, 2018.
- "Key trio is lost to N.E. Patriots". Retrieved February 19, 2018.
- "Rucker surgery set". Retrieved February 19, 2018.
- "Rucker Did It Again!". Retrieved February 19, 2018.
- "Rucker Retires". Retrieved February 19, 2018.
- "Rucker Retires After 12 Years". Youngstown Vindicator. September 3, 1982. Retrieved February 11, 2018.
- "SPORTS PEOPLE; Back Afflictions". The New York Times. September 3, 1982. Retrieved February 11, 2018.
- Heisig, Eric (February 24, 2016). "Reggie Rucker pleads guilty to stealing from nonprofits, will likely spend time in prison". cleveland.com. Retrieved April 11, 2020.
- Heisig, Eric (August 3, 2016). "Ex-Cleveland Brown Reggie Rucker sentenced to 21 months in prison for stealing from nonprofits". cleveland.com. Retrieved April 11, 2020.
- Heisig, Eric (December 3, 2018). "Reggie Rucker, ex-Cleveland Brown who stole from anti-violence nonprofits, files for bankruptcy". cleveland.com. Retrieved April 11, 2020.