May 29, 2013

Rookie of the Year: Al Richardson, 1980

Linebacker, Atlanta Falcons

Age: 23 (Sept. 23)
College: Georgia Tech
Height: 6’2”   Weight: 206

Richardson was an eighth round draft choice by the Falcons for 1980, one of four linebackers the Falcons took. Starting on the outside, he combined with fellow rookie Buddy Curry, veteran Fulton Kuykendall, and second-year OLB Joel Williams to create an outstanding corps of linebackers.

1980 Season Summary
Appeared in all 16 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Sacks – N/A
Interceptions – 7 [5, tied with 7 others]
Most interceptions, game – 2 at San Francisco 9/28
Int. return yards – 139 [4]
Most int. return yards, game – 52 (on 1 int.) at Philadelphia 12/7
Int. TDs – 0
Fumble recoveries – 3
Forced fumbles – 0

TDs – 1
Points – 6

Postseason: 1 G (NFC Divisional playoff vs. Dallas)
Interceptions – 0

Awards & Honors:
NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year: AP (co-winner)
2nd team All-NFC: UPI

Falcons went 12-4 to finish first in the NFC West with the best record in the conference. Lost NFC Divisional playoff to Dallas Cowboys (30-27).  

Due to an injury to Joel Williams, Richardson became the team’s chief blitzing linebacker in 1981 and, while his interception total dropped to one, he led the Falcons with 10.5 sacks (unofficially). A fractured shoulder blade limited Richardson to five games in 1983, following the strike-shortened ’82 season, and his level of performance dropped off thereafter. His career lasted just six seasons, through 1985, until he was cut during the preseason in ‘86. Overall, he played in 77 games and intercepted 9 passes; sacks not being an official statistic until 1982, he was credited with 9 but in actuality had more than double that number.


Rookie of the Year Profiles feature players who were named Rookie of the Year in the NFL, AFL (1960-69), or USFL (1983-85) by a recognized organization (Associated Press – Offense or Defense, Newspaper Enterprise Association, United Press International, The Sporting News, or the league itself – Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year).