NFL Hall of Fame
Jets, Redskins
Running Back

Bulldozer with Sticky Hands

A.K.A. Riggo, the Diesel, Soaps Mitch Hendon

(1949 - )

Life Before the Pros

I'm as corny as Kansas in summer

Robert John Riggins was born in Seneca, Kansas before most football teams began summer practice on August 4, 1949. His Centralla corn-fed body was honed on the farm with additional mobility and it destined him to play quarterback and track for his High school. John twice became the hundred yard dash Kansas high school Champ. He also began his acting career at Centralia High --along with his mischievous reputation at this time. Supposedly his landing the leading role in his junior play was to keep the trouble-maker in view at all times. Though his father, Gene, thought he would excel in basketball he was a natural for his state's Big Eight Conference University. Riggins went on to surpass many of the rushing records of another famed Kansas running back, Gale Sayers; and he became their Conference's rushing champion. His 1,131 senior year's yards became the new record (that was eventually surpassed some years down the road). Though he was not sure he was good enough for the pros, he subsequently was a first round selection as the sixth player nabbed in the NFL draft of 1971: the New York Jets taking the barrel-chested muscular thunder thighed running back as their first pick.

I'm Leaving on a Jet Plane

He began running and rising up the Jets' record books to be currently fifth in rushing yards totaling 3,880 yards in his five years there. The self-called "blue collar fullback" grossed 944 yards his second year. During his last year the (also dubbed by him) "simple country boy" obtained his first 1000 yard season. By the time Riggins, who always was a serious worker on-field, had changed yet again his hairstyle to match his offbeat 'civilian' manner, Coach Ewbank became as ticked as the owner and other managers. In 1975 he played the full 14 game schedule, and along with his 1005 yards rushing also caught 30 passes for 363 yards. Before the season he had strategically demanded a pay hike to match famed QB Joe Namath, and the result was playing sans contract. John Riggins declared his free-agency after that motivated-to-sell-himself during a losing "Gang-Green" season. But it was one (and amazingly the only time) where he made the Pro Bowl team. The Washington Redskins, who missed Larry Brown and remembered the heavy style of Dolphins' fullback, Larry Csonka, avariciously picked the six-foot-two, two hundred and forty pound sometimes afro-topped, even arrow-shaped Mohawked, bull-on-the-run for the 1976 season.

I actually grew the Mohawk for the fun of it. I wanted to show everybody I was my own boss. I always wanted one as a kid but my folks wouldn't let me have it.

New Brave on the Warpath

John Riggins explains that the 300,000 dollars was not the only motivation to go with the Washington team, but he admired that they had a winning record, even made it to the Super Bowl under George Allen. Allen loved the ground game, relying on defense, demonstrated by his earlier move benching the pure passer and previously untouchable Washington Idol, Sonny Jurgenson for the more ball control QB, "Whiskey" Bill Kilmer. By 1976, however the "Over the Hill Gang" were so named because most were veteran free-agents Allen had brought on board) started living up to the negative side of the connotation whose experience used to compensate for their age. John's first full 14 game program only produced 572 yards. George Allen's last season in 1977 was further marred by John Riggins' knee injury, and he sat watching the Redskins struggle for nine outings.

Let's Pardee!

Jack Pardee was a good, gutsy, brainy veteran defensive player and successful and innovative defensive coach under Allen but as the new head coach he did not get the Redskins to the heights where they wanted. But, more importantly to the big picture, he did help develop John Riggins into the booming back who would take up most of the workload. They used number 44 for running play after play, where tackling this big relatively fast bull, even by the horns, would cause defenses to wilt: especially by the fourth quarter. His first year under him garnered 1,014 yards from 248 carries, and the next, in 1979, he extended his yardage to 1,153. Because during the regular season playing the arch-rival the Dallas Cowboys, Pardee had Mark Moseley kick what seemed a superfluous "rub-it-in" field goal, they were gunning for "Injuns" for their rematch that was on their last game on the last day of the year. Despite the fact Riggo played his guts out, they lost the game to a determined Dallas posse in a frustrating 35-34 squeaker-- and cardiac crusher-- and they furthermore lost the playoffs. Ironically, that was why Pardee had earlier tried to have as many points piled up in case of the differential tie-breaker.

The Pardee's Over

The punishment that had been endured, physically and emotionally became financial at the time of his contract negotiations during his training camp of 1980. When Bobby Beathard refused to come to terms, he announced his retirement while marching out on pre-season practices. Fortunately he continued to stay in shape with farm-work at his spread in Lawrenceville, Kansas.

All I did all year was paint my house. I'm a slow worker.

Beginning of First Gibbs Era

Joe Gibbs was a hot offensive coordinator at San Diego where in 1980 they had the three top AFC receivers in Kellen Winslow, John Jefferson and Charlie Joiner. He accepted the Washington Head Coach job and they freed him to take care of the x's and o's continuing to use Beathard for the General Manager position. They hoped to bring some zing into the Redskins' offense, but they needed a balance with running, moreover wanted backs to double as receivers, thus they brought John Riggins and his 230 pound power back into the fold. Though a little long in the tooth at 31, he had caught 3 TD's in '78.

Though the Redskins lost seven straight games, they won seven out of their last 10 games to break even. John struggled in several games and only mustered 714 yards. This finally worried Joe Gibbs, who had promised to "...take it easy on him the first year.." and had "...felt he'd turn it on during the regular season..." The saving grace was he did score 13 rushing TD's tying for second best in that category in 1981. He had a penchant for being hard on any of the team's rookies' screw-ups.

One Strike and You're Champs

On July 15th the contract between the National Football League and the NFL Players Association needed renegotiation. The original demand that players get 55 percent of the gross, became bickering over higher pay and the premier of severance pay. Two games into the schedule, the NFLPA led by Ed Garvey decided they would rather play hardball, and proceeded to walk off for 57 days, establishing a pro sports strike record.

Tournament of Thorns

With a 9 game season instead of the usual 16, the NFL devised a unique playoff tournament where 8 teams were seeded by record from the American and National Conference each. John would need the extra games to best his 553 yards for the short season, which had an additional benefit of keeping John healthy. After winning eight of the regular season games games losing only one on the strength of their defense, they were seeded high. John was in great form, helped by the massive line, known (he was inducted, too) as "the Hogs." He totaled 610 yards in their four playoff games that included by first qualifying in crushing Detroit 31-7 (with John's 119 yards) Minnesota, 21-7 and best of all, hated Dallas 31-17 who handed them their only loss that month.

Celebration Time, Come On

They had the "Fun Bunch" to revel when they lit up the scoreboard with a group "High-five" and the smallish receivers, the "Smurfs" to help finish off their last playoff opponent in the "Big Game." Riggins even ended his two-year refusal to grant interviews, and showed up waving a cane at owner Jack Kent Cooke's casual celebration party at the team's hotel two nights before the Super Bowl dressed in top-hat, white tie and tails. He also did not tip-toe back to his room at midnight, but rowdily stampeded back with several of his fellow inebriated players waking the others. But John Riggins would be in the spotlight soon, but not until one understands the build-up to it.

Hey, just get the wagon out, hitch it up, and I'll pull it. Everybody get on.

Hog Heaven

Redskins fans, which sometimes included grown business-men in ladies frocks, dubbed the "Hogettes," frothed at the mouth as most still remembered the 'fish that got away.' And now they saw the chance not only to win Super Bowl XVII, but to avenge themselves at that same location with the same team that made 'Flipper' meal out of them. Of course this time it was with different players even if was the Miami Dolphins that they would battle at the Pasadena, California Rose Bowl. They would need "The Diesel" to achieve retribution, and a first-ever Vince Lombardi Trophy. This might seem even more coveted since this silver football award was named after the famed Packers coach who also before he died on September of 1970 became coach, part-owner and executive vice-president of the Redskins more than a dozen years before.

In Davey Jones' Locker Room

Things, however did not look so optimistic at half-time when they trailed vet coach Don Shula's Dolphins 17-10 with their great "Killer 'B's" defense in front of a hundred thousand game side, and millions over the airwaves. Miami had drew first blood during their second possession with Jimmy Cefalo's catch at their 45 yard line. Cefalo scampered past Tony Peters for a 76 yard TD pass. Like boxers jabbing and dodging, they exchanged field goals and TD's, the Redskins getting one from wide receiver "Smurf" Alvin Garrett, who had replaced star Art Monk, to make it 10 all.

A Purse from a Sow's Ear

But after many minutes of football boredom DE Dexter Manley's forced a fumble from QB David Woodley and it was then pounced on by their biggest boar, 10 year lineman Dave Butz (however, he was not going to play Diesel). Riggins drove up the field in four straight runs getting them to the point where they knocking at the fish tank door at the 4. They were happy to settle for 3 as those swarming 'B's proved pests protecting their hive. But as fast as the Washington band broke into "Hail to the Redskins," a fishy mammalian, Fulton Walker was returning another kickoff. He had earlier popped D.C.'s celebration champagne bubble by returning their other kickoff 42 yards to 3 point land, now, he put Miami ahead by seven for the third time with a little less than two minutes remaining in the half. His return was a first ever Super Bowl touchdown with that 98 yard ramble. With Riggins busting for needed yards from their own seven and help from an interference call the Redskins moved up to the Dolphin's 14 yard line, but they had eaten up most of the clock --14 seconds remained. Theismann, however made a strategic mistake and dumped the ball off to Garrett who was haplessly prevented from stopping the clock out of bounds. No time left at all, and now no field goal.

Over, It's Not Over

Coming out for the third quarter, the Redskins went on rampage, fueled by Gibbs optimistic locker-room preaching and on their second possession seven minutes into the half they called 'X-Reverse' on first-and-ten. The diminutive --only in height --Garrett raced to the opponents' 9. Moseley had to be utilized when Theismann overthrew that same "Smurf". Now 17-13 it almost became 24-13 when one of those 'B's, Kim Bokamper batted a pass into the air in Redskin's end-zone territory, agile QB Joe Theismann himself bravely knocked his errant pass away from the linebacker. They had just dodged a bullet when A.J. Duhe intercepted and their drive up the field was stopped by an interception by Mark Murphy by Vernon Dean's tip. This ninth first down would be Miami's last. The 'Skins would have 24 before it was over: 14 were from the running game.

A Boar Ring Game

The fourth quarter the famous Hogs just kept batting 'B's and making the gaps needed through which their "Train" could capitalize. While the Dolphins adjusted to the run, Theismann with his play-book roll-outs could hit his "Smurf's" that also included Charlie Brown to open it back up again. But the Dolphins put another scare into them when Blackwood intercepted Theismann after he got the flea-flicker from Riggins. But they went nowhere from their one, and after the possession changed on the 48 yard line the 'Skins smash-mouth ran nine more yards and looked at the chains at fourth and one. Gibbs faced decision time. Longish field goal, go for the first down, or go for seven?

Who Ya Gonna Call?

People get ready there's a train a comin'

Gibbs had scrapped his air game to some degree in the fourth quarter and asked John to carry the ball more, which he did for 13 times. But he also had him to depend on in the clutch, and for this crucial play he called his number with the "70-Chip." It had worked against Dallas and others earlier in the year. It utilized their tight-end, Clint Didier in motion out of the I-formation, and it threw Don McNeal off long enough that when he turned he saw what he called "the Train" rolling hard out of a block by tight end Rich Walker, where he should have been. Cutting back he slipped just that nano-second enough that he only could grab some jersey of this behemoth, and Riggo just stiff armed him away, sauntering 43 yards for the go-ahead touchdown. The photos of this play have frozen this momentous moment admirably.

Time, time, time's on my side

Though 10 minutes were available for the Dolphins to regroup, they did not. Woodley during the whole second half had only 8 incomplete while the Redskins began to run the clock out with eight straight runs of the juggernaut. It was too far gone for their other good QB, Strock to be of much avail. Now, after forty percent of the quarter was eaten up, on the Miami 18, Theismann pulled a third and nine surprise in the air and after moving to the 9, he repeated with another toss to Brown clinching the game at the two-minute warning.

Who cared if they said they were putting an asterix by this year's season because of the curtailment. Riggins, who established a Super Bowl rushing record of 166 yards (from 38 carries) was now not only Most Valuable Player, but 70,000 dollars richer.

Reagan may be president, but today I'm king.

What Goes Up Must Come Down

The 1983 season was stellar for John Riggins, called "Mr. January." They won 14 of their 16 games heavily dependent on his 375 carries for 1,347 yards and a record 24 touchdowns. He had tied the record for scoring a touchdown in 13 straight games. He fumbled the ball only three times out of the 468 times he handled it, counting playoffs. The All-NFL and Maxwell Club Player for that year could change the hands of destiny in the Super Bowl.

Sneak Preview

On the fifth game of the season they played one of the memorable games of the decades when the Raiders came to D.C.'s RFK stadium. Los Angeles had a very hot team that included quarterback Jim Plunkett, wide receiver Cliff Branch and running back Marcus Allen, (but this afternoon they were without the latter two). But, what ensued was a 60 minute shoot-out won by the Redskins, after losing a lead with their early 17 points, they managed to put another 17 points put on the board within the last six minutes of the game. The tally, Redskins 37, Raiders 35. Little did they know fate would wind it's funny way a baker's dozen games later. With home-field advantage throughout all the playoffs, they looked to the "Diesel Named Desire" to take them for back to back Super Bowls. They had the number one defense against the rush, they had amassed a way above normal 541 points for the season, and had all their returning cast of characters with the Hogs, Smurfs and Fun Bunch.

Lambs to the Slaughter

The Wild Card game for the '83 season featured a decent Dallas Cowboys team which only lost 4 games pitted against the feisty L.A. Rams. They were one of those teams to make the playoffs who had one of the worst records with 7 losses (equaled with Division leader Detroit - and the other AFC wild cards, Seattle and Denver). However, they prevailed over the 'Boys and were hoping for upset against obviously top-seeded, home-field advantaged Washington.

Gold Rush

The reality check came to the Rams in the form of a 51 to 7 romp, but the next game for the Redskins with explosive San Francisco would not be a push-over, even if they dodged a 43 yard Eddie Murray FG bullet. Riggins was still running in the manner he would do to gain a record 6 playoff games' 100 yard days. But before it was over, they would need the 40 seconds left in the game, and Mark Moseley's toe to break the tie that was at 21 points each. They got it, and the return try at keeping the Lombardy Trophy.

It's the blockers that make us go. It's no surprise to the defense as to who is going to carry the ball. You say it's tough on me, but it's just as tough on the guys up front because the defense knows we're coming.

You Are Invited to a Barbeque

We're gonna butcher us some hogs

Hype is not strong enough a word to describe the nonsense that preceded Super Bowl XVIII while all waited for it to be played in two weeks. At this time it certainly was going to be the 'Classic Confrontation'. The Raiders were not as magnanimous as the Redskins were in talking about their opponent. Joe Theismann dismissed Lyle Alzado's threat to decapitate him with "Down deep Alzado is a fine fellow."

In fact, these 'pirates' were psyching themselves up to be as ornery as the skull and crossbones logo they sported. They not only were not intimidated by the Redskins' players and their record, and any stats, but had a plan to bolster their confidence. They were not only tough, but smart.

The Un-fun Bunch

The Raiders, who used a 3 linemen - 4 linebackers set, had two of most outstanding cover men in the whole league with Lester Hayes and Mike Haynes. Therefore they used them to play man-to-man so everyone else could mass up close to the line to stop the run and harass the quarterback. That plan worked as things got under way. Then for the offensive package, they had great receivers, especially Cliff Branch who would give the weakest link on the Redskins cover team, Anthony Washington absolute fits. Meanwhile Jim Plunkett had the option of handing off or throwing to his running back at the very top of his game, Marcus Allen.

Riggins, whom they depended on for 26 carries, was one of the best 'Skins performers for the game. This showing in Tampa, where the cloud cover portended gloom, was a decent 64 yards despite the savage attack by steroid-crazed linemen and superb linebackers from those un-mellow Californians.

Even the diesel could not pull the Champions out of the hole they dug for themselves in the first half. With less than five minutes into the game, the 'Skins stalled on their 30 on their first possession and have the special team bring their consistently competent (80 straight problem-free kicks) punter, Mike Hayes onto the field. Unfortunately, the Raiders' special teams' captain was in just the right position (the 'Skins' were worried about the flanks) to dart through --bee-lining to the kicker, where he not only blocked the thing, but ran after it into the end-zone for a touchdown. He was surprised at the call for the play, because usually they allow Greg Pruitt to make the return.

Doldrums Leading to a Shipwreck

Wind a little less in their sails, Washington was able to muster a 50 yard drive that got them into field goal range. Sadly, and in keeping with the feel of the game, 161 point record breaking Moseley missed a 44 yarder --not usually out of his range. The Raiders should not have been given a chance for a scoring breather, or possession of the ball for that matter.

Plunkett and Branch and Allen and then Branch again moved the Raiders early in the second quarter with the latter faking and flitting into the end-zone. Now it was 14 zip.

But just like they had done all year, they put together a progressive series of plays, mixing Riggins' runs, and various passes that brought them from their 20 to the other end of the field's 7. The bad news: they could not break the red-zone for 6 or 7, the good news: Moseley put them on the board with 3.

More happy turn of events came when the Raiders had to give up the ball, and punted. However the flip-side was the Redskins were only on their 12. Here is where one wishes they could re-write the script, greed is a blinding thing. Instead of running out the clock, or throwing the bomb down-field with only 12 seconds before the half, Gibbs wanted one of his trick plays.

Whether it was bad play calling or poor execution, the "Rocket Screen" became a "Journey to the Center of the Earth" when the Raider's linebacker coach recognized the line-up, and put 6-4 Squirek to mirror Joe. The ex-receiver from high school knew right where the ball was going and he was there, grabbing it for a 5 yard touchdown, absolutely joyfully shocking the Raiders, but devastating the Redskins as they went to the locker room.

The Champs were now sobered, but they still were resolved to prove themselves (and each earn their $64K) knew they would have to improve their 18 complete passes from 6 tries netting 78 yards, as well as hope John would get 'warmed up' like he always did later in games. He surely would be adding significantly to his 37 yards in his 16 carries and give them ball control and touchdowns.

John the Elevator

The Redskins in the first 4 minutes of the second half were exhibiting themselves almost like in old times. Riggins ran for 20 yards in 6 runs, and Theismann threw 3 completes, one that Brown gobbled up 23 yards. It was capped off by Riggin's dive over RT for six points. Then the final nail in the Tee-Pee was driven, Mark Moseley missed what usually was an automatic extra point. Now, with a little less than a half hour to play, they had to make up 12 instead of 11.

Turn Those Pork Ribs Over

The Raiders had a 4 minute drive, too, that was aided by an uncharacteristic 38 yard interference by master corner Darryl Green. Their Marcus Allen touchdown was iced to make the score now 28-9. Though the 'Skins stalled in a couple of possessions, so did L.A.

Hope glimmered again before it was fourth quarter, when Branch fumbled and were on the Raider's 35! When it was third and two on the 27, they somehow thought they would fool them handing off to Joe Washington instead of John, but, now they had him for fourth and one again, just like last year, right? Wrong. In the huddle they thought Riggins would surprise L.A. by going outside, but Walker's block of Martin failed and they gave the ball back.

Take 'Em Out, They're Done

The defense with only a couple minutes of rest, were jolted again with a play that Marcus Allen confessed was actually slightly busted, but the lucky hole, and missed tackles caused him to run from scrimmage for a record 74 yard TD that now completely ripped what sails the Redskin's ship had left. Joe, who was dumped 6 times altogether as the tragedy unfolded greeted two more yardage-losing sacks, while a third caused a QB fumble. This was only the second game for the whole season where Joe Theismann had not passed for a TD.

Feeling lucky none of those produced any more scoring, they actually were advancing a bit up the field with 7 minutes remaining when Haynes took one from Art Monk. The Raiders moved forward to get another final 3. It closed the lid for good during these waning minutes of this vaunted hour of playing time on the burgundy and gold casket. The pictures of John sitting dejected bruised emotionally and physically with his head in hand was now the symbol of how all the team and fans felt.

The Little Train that Could

The 1984 Redskins were atop their division again at 11 and 5; and they were pulled by the Diesel's second best showing. This was Riggo's fifth season of getting yards by the grand --1,239 of them-- exactly; and out of his workload of 327 carries, he rushed for 14 touchdowns.

"Three-'peats" aside, this was the year that was ruled by the San Francisco dynasty, though the Monsters of the Midway were back scrapping for more than salmon. It was the Bears who advanced to play (and get skunked) by the 49'ers by beating the 'Skins in a close one, 23-19.


John only played 12 of the games of the 1985 season, yet he still scored 8 touchdowns, although his yardage accordingly was about half of what it had been. His marriage difficulties were also giving him personal problems. Although he was a notorious party-goer, he was enough of a family man to raise four children in this first failed union (who are at this writing young adults). He was really pushing the envelope as demonstrated by his drunken show at a VIP dinner in D.C. He told the Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day to "...loosen up, Sandy, baby... ." * The Redskins did not proceed all the way through the playoffs, and Gibbs was definitely thinking by the end of the season of re-building.

If John can't average 30 carries per game, I don't think we can use him as just a short-yardage man, and I don't think John would want that job. anyway

However, John, not really a quitter, would not retire and with some embarrassment on both sides they cut the fabled veteran. The new divorcee, without an alternative resume lived alone in a trailer for years by the Potomac River, not adjusting right off. Riggins could reach back to skills learned at Kansas University, he was a journalism major.

Playing football for as long as I did can give you a distorted view of life. I've often thought that a pro career should never go more than four years, like in college. Then you would be forced to get on with your life and into something else.

Turn Your Radio On

I've been in entertainment all my life. Football is a product, and it entertains people. It really wasn't that much of a stretch.
It would have been more of a stretch for me to go to work for some insurance company or some bank or do something like that. To me that would have been further away from what I spent 15 years doing. Everything is under the same umbrella. They just have different names.

John did continue to bring, (actually commuting -by rail) his crazy charismatic clenched-mouthed charm --before seen in interviews --when he joined on a half-hour TV show that other jocular jock, the ex-Redskin legend, Sonny Jurgenson with news sportsmen, Michael Wilbon and George Michael (not the singer). He also did "color" reporting for WestWood One and NBC's Arena Football. He was a panel guest on a 60 minute talk show for NY football fans on the YES network.

As far as broadcasting goes, I've got a full dance card.

Real Life and Acting

In 1992 he returned to what he wanted to do.

I often thought I played football just to please my father. I know he wanted me or one of my brothers to be a pro athlete. I think I wanted to make my dad's dream come true. But now I feel acting is for me ... and me alone.
He appeared on stage in Maryland in "Illegal Motion," but he had to be patient for a couple of years. He did not give up but he met a special someone named Lisa-Marie (not the one who was married to Jackson and Cage). But he explains:
originally came to New York in 1994 to study acting. I did that for a couple of years. I got remarried in 1996 and had another child. Broadcasting was what was paying the bills, and it still is. I just got away from acting.
When his child, Hannah, turned six in 2003, that spring he landed a role in "Gillette" (not the shaving commercial) in the off Broadway Storm Theater. This ultimately got him 'discovered' and he was cast as a jealous murderous husband of Ramona, Mitch Hendon in the daytime drama, Guiding Light. He still had commitments for the fall football season, so it became summer work.

Originally it was supposed to be four episodes, now it's turned into nine, so we'll see what happens. This is a soap opera. Anything is possible -- and then some.
I've loved this absolutely. I don't know which I enjoy more. I certainly enjoy being Mitch, but I certainly enjoy being here as an actor. I read these scripts, and I get goose bumps. I think that's a good thing.
I've never been particularly serious about anything. Mitch Hendon is as serious as a heart attack, so it's kind of fun to be that serious. He's the ultimate authority figure. If you don't see it his way, he might stick a knife in your ribs.

As of this date John, who now feels like the rookie again, wants to not only work in the offseason at the Storm Theater again, but become a Shakespearean in Twelth Night. Is Riggins up to the career challenges ahead, would not this guy who is still 240 pounds have too much gimpiness like others of his ilk?

I like what I'm doing now. I'm excited about every new day because there's so many possibilities. I think I've found the essence of what I want to do -- entertain people.

And I'd rather entertain them this way than the way I did years ago because I'm not as tired at the end of the day. I guess I can be tired, but at least I don't need people to help me out of a chair -- as a rule -- although that could change in the next few years.

My legs are in good shape. You have to be lucky in that game, and I think I was fortunate. I think everybody has the instinct to survive, and I think mine might have been as keen as anybody's. ... Some people said I was a candyass, but guess what? I'm still here, and I can do a jig if I want to and I'm damn near 75 years old.

John appeared not too long ago on celebrity Wheel of Fortune to spin for his adopted charity:

Convent of The Sacred Heart
Specifically Scholarship Funds
and The Helping Hearts Program

One East 91st Street
New York, NY 10128
(212) 722-4745 x107

Who said that Broadway was just for Joe Namath? And that Jim Brown and Fred Dwyer had cornered that market? In his fifties, John Riggins still sounds and looks great.


         Rushing                   |      Receiving
Year Tm  G   Att  Yards   Y/A   TD |  Rec  Yards   Y/R   TD 
1971 Ny  14  180    769   4.3    1 |   36     231   6.4   2 
1972 Ny  12  207    944   4.6    7 |   21     230  11.0   1 
1973 Ny  11  134    482   3.6    4 |   23     158   6.9   0 
1974 Ny  10  169    680   4.0    5 |   19     180   9.5   2 
1975 Ny  14  238   1005   4.2    8 |   30     363  12.1   1 
1976 Wa  14  162    572   3.5    3 |   21     172   8.2   1 
1977 Wa   5   68    203   3.0    0 |    7      95  13.6   2 
1978 Wa  15  248   1014   4.1    5 |   31     299   9.6   0 
1979 Wa  16  260   1153   4.4    9 |   28     163   5.8   3 
1981 Wa  15  195    714   3.7   13 |    6      59   9.8   0 
1982 Wa   8  177    553   3.1    3 |   10      50   5.0   0 
1983 Wa  15  375   1347   3.6   24 |    5      29   5.8   0 
1984 Wa  14  327   1239   3.8   14 |    7      43   6.1   0 
1985 Wa  12  176    677   3.8    8 |    6      18   3.0   0 

TOTAL   175  2916  11352  3.9  104 |   250   2090   8.4  12

NFL's All-Time Top 50

# 5 Rushing TD's
# 8 Rushing/Receiving TD's
# 10 Rushing attempts
# 12 Rushing yardage
# 20 Yards from scrimmage

NFL Top Ten Seasons


Sixth in Yards from scrimmage
Seventh in Rushes
Seventh Rushing yards
(Tied) tenth for Rushing TD's
Ninth in Rushes
(Tied) Seventh Rush/Receiving TD's
Eighth Rushes
Ninth Rushing yards
(Tied) Ninth Rushing TD's

(Tied) Second Rushing TD's
(Tied) Fifth Rush/Receiving TD's
(Tied) First Rushes
First Rushing TD's
First Rush/Receiving TD's
Second Rushes
Fifth Rushing Yards
(Tied) First Rushing TD's
(Tied) Third Rush/Receiving TD's Fifth Rushing
Sixth Rushing yards

Sources:, "John Riggins the Diesel" Don Smith, The Coffin Corner Volume XVI, 1994.
Super Bowl Book: 1986 Edition, ed. Bob McCoy, St. Louis: The Sporting News, 1986.
Ted Brock, Larry Eldridge, Jr, 25 Years: The NFL Since 1960 (National Football League Properties), New York: Simon and Schuster, 1985.


This is for Caknucks Sports Heroes Quest

* Joe Namath should have known better at 60 to have recently told Jet halftime interviewer Kathy Kolber "I want to kiss you..." Some left me comments saying John was wilder than Joe.

Real Life Noder Antecdote:

After IWSTF said his daughter beat up on Riggin's little girl, I asked him to explain for inclusion in this write-up --

IWhoSawTheFace says: A small thing really. John was married and his wife and daughter were members at the Vienna Woods swim club. So we're down there one saturday hanging out (of COURSE everyone knows who John is)... My daughter's playing with her water toys, minding her own business, when his daughter starts to take my daughter's toys. My girl goes ballistic. They start shoving and crying. My girl starts wailing on his girl. We separate them... The Rigginses were real gracious. Actually, the wife was. John was there to relax. He just laughed at the whole thing. I did too. No blood, no foul, as they say.

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