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Garland Rivers
Chicago Bears
Date of birth: November 3, 1964 (1964-11-03) (age 45)
Place of birth: Canton, Ohio
Career information
Position(s): DB
Height: 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight: 181 lb (82 kg)
College: Michigan
NFL Draft: 1987 / Round: 4 / Pick: 92
 As player:
NFL Chicago Bears
AFL Albany Firebirds
AFL Arizona Rattlers
Career highlights and awards
Honors: All-American
Records: Michigan single-game tackles record (1984–)
Playing stats at

Garland A. Rivers (born November 3, 1964(1964-11-03) in Canton, Ohio) is a former professional American football defensive back who was drafted in the 1987 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions of the National Football League. He played briefly for the Chicago Bears in the 1987 NFL season after having starred as an All-American for the Michigan Wolverines football team for whom he set the single-game tackles record as a sophomore. This record still stands. After returning to the University of Michigan to complete his bachelors degree, he returned to professional football for several seasons in the Arena Football League. However, before returning to professional football he became embroiled in a scandal involving sports agents engaging amateur athletes.



Rivers played in several bowl games, including the 1987 Rose Bowl.

After attending Canton McKinley High School, where they won the 1981 Ohio High School Athletic Association football championships,[1] he went to the University of Michigan where he became the only freshman varsity letter winner on the football team in 1983.[2] Rivers, who wore #13 as a Wolverine,[3] started 32 consecutive games until a shoulder injury caused him to end the streak. He posted six interceptions in his Michigan career, including one for a touchdown.[2] Another one during the same season was a game saving interception in the 1986 Fiesta Bowl in a 27–23 victory over the Nebraska Cornhuskers football team.[4] Rivers started 12 of the 13 games his senior season for the Big Ten Conference champions and was one of three All-Americans (along with Jumbo Elliott & Jim Harbaugh) that season as the team went 11–2 and was invited to the Rose Bowl.[5] Rivers once had 17 tackles and an assist as a sophomore defensive back in a game against the 1984 National Champion Brigham Young Cougars football team in the 1984 Holiday Bowl.[6] 17 tackles continues to stand alone as a school single game record.[7]

His college athletic career was not without controversy. He was named by Michigan Football coach and Michigan Wolverines athletic director Bo Schembechler as one of two players (the other being Robert Perryman) who had transgressed National Collegiate Athletic Association rules in violation of their amateur status. According to Schembechler, both players had signed contracts and accepted loans from agents before their college eligibility expired.[8] Schembechler testified in a Federal District Court case involving charges of mail fraud and racketeering against Norby Walters and Lloyd Bloom. According to Schembechler, Rivers had denied having entered into an agreement before the team's 1986 NCAA Division I-A football season had ended in a meeting with him, but confessed in a Federal Bureau of Investigation meeting. Because the investigation occurred late in the Spring academic term at Michigan, River's athletic scholarship in the form tuition and room and board had already been fully paid by the University. However, when Rivers returned to Michigan in 1988 to complete his degree, the university did not provide a scholarship for which he would have otherwise been eligible.[8]

Professional career

Rivers played briefly for head coach Mike Ditka's Chicago Bears.

Rivers was drafted by the Detroit Lions of the National Football League with the eighth pick of the fourth round (92nd overall) of the 1987 NFL Draft.[9] He played briefly for the Chicago Bears under Mike Ditka in 1987.[10] The Bears went 11–4 that season and qualified for the 1987-88 NFL playoffs that season.[11]

Garland Rivers played for several years in the Arena Football League as a wide receiver and linebacker. He mostly played on defense. He played for the Albany Firebirds for 1990 and 1991. The Firebirds qualified for the 4-team 1991 AFL playoffs as the #4 seed and lost to the #1 seed Detroit Drive in the first round. Then, he played for the Arizona Rattlers in 1992 and 1993.[12] The Rattlers qualified for 8-team the 1993 AFL playoffs as the #4 seed and advanced to the second round before losing to the #1 seed Detroit Drive.


His son Jewone Snow, by Linda Snow, is a current McKinley Bulldogs (class of 2010) football standout. Snow is the sister of sister of Percy Snow and Eric Snow, who were also standout athletes for McKinley.[13]


  1. ^ "OHSAA All-Time State Football Tournament Results". Ohio High School Athletic Association. Retrieved 2008-01-27.  
  2. ^ a b "University of Michigan Football All-American: Garland Rivers". The Regents of the University of Michigan. 2007-02-10. Retrieved 2007-12-05.  
  3. ^ "Bentley Historical Library -- -- U of M Football Rosters". The Regents of the University of Michigan. 2005-08-30. Retrieved 2007-12-06.  
  4. ^ "Versus Nebraska January 1, 1986". Regents of the University of Michigan. 2003. Retrieved 2007-12-05.  
  5. ^ "1986 Football Team". The Regents of the University of Michigan. 2007-03-31. Retrieved 2007-12-05.  
  6. ^ "Versus Brigham Young December 21, 1984". Regents of the University of Michigan. 2003. Retrieved 2007-12-06.  
  7. ^ "Michigan Football Statistic Archive Query Page". Regents of the University of Michigan. 2003. Retrieved 2007-11-30.  
  8. ^ a b "His Players Broke Rules, Schembechler Testifies". The New York Times Company. 1989-03-23. Retrieved 2007-12-06.  
  9. ^ "1987 NFL Player Draft". Retrieved 2007-12-05.  
  10. ^ "All-Time Players: Garland Rivers". NFL Enterprises LLC. Retrieved 2007-12-05.  
  11. ^ "1987 Chicago Bears". Retrieved 2007-12-05.  
  12. ^ "Garland Rivers". ArenaFan, Inc.. Retrieved 2007-12-06.  
  13. ^ Beaven, Chris (2006-09-20). "St. Xavier’s loss is McKinley’s gain as Bulldogs take over the top spot in Ohio". The Repository. Retrieved 2008-01-27.  

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