Les Richter 6'3" 238 Linebacker Los Angeles Rams 1954 - 1962 Nine Seasons 112 Games Played 16 Interceptions 193 Points Scored 8 Pro Bowls
Leslie Allen Richter was a first round draft choice of the expansion Dallas Texans in the 1952 NFL Draft. He was the second player chosen overall. Richter attended college at the University of California, where he starred as linebacker, offensive guard, and place kicker. He then served two years in the armed forces after graduating from college because of the Korean Conflict. Les Richter is a member of the College Football Hall Of Fame.
Richter never got a chance to suit up for the Texans, because he was traded for eleven players shortly after the draft to the Los Angeles Rams. This is the largest trade for one player in the history of the NFL.
The Texans, who were a product of the New York Yanks that went defunct in 1951, would fold after their lone season in 1952. Though many of the players would join the expansion Baltimore Colts the next year when owner Carroll Rosenbloom bought the rights to the Texans franchise, the NFL does not officially recognize this lineage.
Richter joined the Rams in 1954, and was used by the Rams as a linebacker and place kicker. He responded with an interception, eight field goals, and a career best 38 extra points made as a rookie. He was given his first Pro Bowl honor, something he would achieve every year of his career except for the 1962 season.
He attempted an NFL leading 24 field goals the next year, making a career high 13. He also made 30 extra point attempts, and picked off two passes in his second season. It was also his last season as a outside linebacker.
The Rams would make it to the NFL Championship in 1955, but lose to the Cleveland Browns. It would be the teams last postseason appearance until 1967.
Now manning the middle linebacker position, he would also line up as a middle guard as well in 1956 and be named First Team All-Pro that year. Richter spent his last season as a place kicker that season. He made 36 extra points and eight field goals. He would make the two extra points he attempted in 1960, and miss his lone field goal attempt in 1959, but would concentrate on defense for the most part.
During that time, Richter became known as one of the best middle linebackers in the NFL. He went to the Pro Bowl yearly on Rams teams that struggled. Other than their 8-4 record under Hall Of Fame coach Sid Gillman in 1958, the team had only one year they finished at least .500 during the years Richter was there.
In 1962, the Rams would win just one game. It was also the only year in Richter's career that he did not make the Pro Bowl. He retired after that season to concentrate on other business ventures. Since then, he has been heavily involved in auto racing and is a legend in that indusrty.
Les Richter is a perfect example of an excellent player somehow forgotten and passed over by the voters today. In fact, I question if any voter on the Hall Of Fame seniors committee even watched him play. It is obvious they know next to nothing about this man who lost two years of his career, due to military obligations for his country, yet still stood out head and shoulders above his peers.
It is not like he played with a team struggling in anonymity either. The Rams were considered a glamorous team by many. They won an NFL Championship in 1951, which was their fourth straight appearance in the title game. Though the team wasn't always a winner in the late 1950's, they still had a huge following.
This was helped by Pete Rozelle, the future NFL Commissioner. Rozelle was the Rams public relations specialist, then later on their general manager. He got the Rams on television, shining a spotlight on greats like Richter. The Rams filled seats, which was shown in a 1957 game versus the San Francisco 49ers. Over 102,000 people attended that game, which is still a record today. The Rams also housed over 100,000 people twice more during Richter's time there.
The fact that Les Richter went to the Pro Bowl so much in an era where the players and coaches, not the fans nor media, voted you in shows how good he was. Making the Pro Bowl then was an achieved honor due to your play on the field, unlike the popularity contest it has morphed into today.
There are several linebackers today in Canton with less credentials than Richter. You look at an Andre Tippett and his five Pro Bowls as an example. Tippett was a one dimensional player, where Richter was a complete and much more versatile player.
The Hall Of Fame truly misses out on the point for their reason for existence. It is supposed to house the best in the game, but it has become a political process where kickbacks get you in before success on the gridiron. There is nothing more than anyone could do more with their career than Richter. I just wish the voters would wake up, recognize that, and give him his long overdue deserved respect.
Players Drafted In 1952 ( * Denotes Canton Inductee )
1. Billy Wade, QB, LA Rams 3. Ollie Matson, RB, Chicago Cardinals * 4. Babe Parilli, QB, Green Bay Packers 9. Hugh McElhenny, HB, San Francisco 49ers * 10. Bert Rechichar, DB, Cleveland Browns 11. Frank Gifford, RB, NY Giants * 14. Gino Marchetti, DE, Dallas Texans * 15. Billy Howton, WR, Green Bay 17. Jim Weatherall, DT, Philadelphia Eagles 21. Pete Brewster, WR, Chicago Cardinals 22. Bob Toneff, DT, San Francisco 28. Bobby Dillon, DB, Green Bay 29. Lum Snyder, OT, Pittsburgh 31. Al Dorow, QB, Washington 34. Yale Lary, DB, Detroit * 45. Pat Summerall, DE, Detroit (Noted Broadcaster) 46. Marion Campbell, DE, San Francisco 48. Ray Renfro, RB, Cleveland 49. Skeets Quinlan, RB, LA Rams 52. Dave Hanner, DT, Green Bay 56. Fred Williams, DT, Chicago Bears 66. Duane Putnam, G, LA Rams 68. Ed Brown, QB, Chicago Bears 80. Joe Fortunado, LB, Chicago Bears 89. Wayne Robinson, LB, Philadelphia 90. Bill Bishop, DT, Chicago Bears 100. Deral Teteak, G, Green Bay 103. Dick Alban, DB, Washington 123. Leo Sugar, DE, Chicago Cardinals 133. Sam Baker, K, LA Rams 134. Jim Mutscheller, TE, Dallas 212. Tommy O'Connell, QB, Chicago Bears 261. Jim David, DB, Detroit 313. Frank Fuller, DT, LA Rams