September 9, 2016

Highlighted Year: Rick Donnelly, 1985

Punter, Atlanta Falcons

Age: 23
1st season in pro football
College: Wyoming
Height: 6’0”   Weight: 184

Donnelly was a placekicker and punter in college who averaged 47.5 yards on 63 punts as a senior in 1984 while also connecting on all 30 of his extra point attempts and three of six field goals. Undrafted by the NFL, Donnelly signed with the New England Patriots as a free agent in ’85 but, unable to unseat Rich Camarillo, was picked up by the Falcons. His rookie season ended prematurely due to a knee injury.

1985 Season Summary
Appeared in 11 of 16 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Punts – 59
Most punts, game – 7 at Philadelphia 11/10
Yards – 2574
Average – 43.6 [3, 1st in NFC]
Best average, game – 52.1 (on 7 punts) at Philadelphia 11/10
Punts blocked – 0
Longest punt – 68 yards

Attempts – 2
Yards – -5
Average gain – -2.5
TDs – 0

Falcons went 4-12 to finish fourth in the NFC West.

Donnelly spent three more seasons with the Falcons and led the NFL with a 44.0 average in the strike-interrupted 1987 season. His hang time improved in ’88, but a back injury cost him the entire 1989 season. While he returned with the Seattle Seahawks in 1990 and averaged 40.6 yards on 67punts, he was placed on injured reserve three games into the ’91 season and further back surgery ended his career. Overall, Donnelly averaged 42.1 yards on 376 punts, with 296 of those punts for a 42.6-yard average coming with the Falcons. He was twice a second-team All-NFC choice by UPI.


Highlighted Years features players who were first-team All-League* selections or league* or conference** leaders in the following statistical categories:

Rushing: Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Passing: Yards, Completion Pct., Yards per Attempt, TDs, Rating
Receiving: Catches, Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Scoring: TDs, Points, Field Goals (min. 5)
All-Purpose: Total Yards
Defense: Interceptions, Sacks
Kickoff Returns: Average
Punt Returns: Average
Punting: Average

*Leagues include NFL (1920 to date), AFL (1926), AFL (1936-37), AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974-75), USFL (1983-85)

**NFC/AFC since 1970