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Ricky Bell
Running back
Jersey #(s)
Born April 8, 1955(1955-04-08)
Houston, Texas
Died November 28, 1984 (aged 29)
Los Angeles, California
Career information
Year(s) 19771982
NFL Draft 1977 / Round: 1 / Pick: 1
College USC
Professional teams
Career stats
Rushing Yards 3,063
Average 3.7
Touchdowns 16
Stats at
Career highlights and awards
  • No notable achievements

Ricky Lynn Bell (April 8, 1955 – November 28, 1984) younger brother of recording artist Archie Bell, was a American professional football player who played running back for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and San Diego Chargers from 1977 to 1982. Bell played football collegiately at USC.


College career

Bell held the single-game rushing record of 347 yards, set against Washington State University in 1976 as a USC Trojan. He led the nation in rushing as a junior in 1975 with 1,875 yards. Bell was the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy as a senior in 1976 to Tony Dorsett after finishing third in the voting in 1975 as a junior. Bell was voted Pac-10 player of the year in 1976. He was also awarded the 1976 W.J. Voit Memorial Trophy as the outstanding football player on the Pacific Coast.

NFL career

Bell was the first overall draft choice in the 1977 NFL Draft, selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The pick was somewhat controversial because Tony Dorsett was being projected as a better back than Bell, and because of the heart disease that shortened his career and eventually his life. Bell's selection was not a surprise, however, because Tampa Bay was coached by John McKay, Bell's former coach at USC. In 1979, Bell enjoyed his finest season, rushing for 1,263 yards and leading the Buccaneers to the NFC Central Division crown. He led the Buccaneers to their first playoff win in franchise history that season by rushing for 142 yards on 38 carries scoring 2 touchdowns against the Philadelphia Eagles.


Bell died in 1984 of heart failure caused by dermatomyositis. Mario Van Peebles portrayed the player in the made-for-television movie, A Triumph of the Heart: The Ricky Bell Story, which was based on Bell's life. Interred at Inglewood Park Cemetery, Inglewood California.


External links



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