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Trace Armstrong
Defensive end
Jersey #(s)
Born October 5, 1965 (1965-10-05) (age 44)
Bethesda, Maryland
Career information
Year(s) 19892003
NFL Draft 1989 / Round: 1 / Pick: 12
College Arizona State & Florida
Professional teams
Career stats
Tackles 620
Sacks 106.5
Interceptions 1
Stats at
Career highlights and awards

Raymond Lester Armstrong, III (born October 5, 1965 in Bethesda, Maryland) is a former American Football defensive end who was a first-round draft pick in 1989. He played for three teams in his 15-year career in the National Football League. He served as President of the NFL Players Association for 8 years before his retirement after the 2003 season. He currently serves as agent for former NFL head coach Marty Schottenheimer, among others.[1]


High School career

Lettered three years as outside linebacker/defensive end at John Carroll Catholic High School in Birmingham, Alabama. All-state and one of Birmingham News' Top 12 players in Alabama as a senior.

College career

As a defensive tackle, Armstrong began his college career at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona. Red-shirted in 1984 and as a freshman in 1985 he played in 10 games with 3 starts. He totaled 32 tackles (2 for a loss).

Was backup (2 starts) on the 10-1-1 1986 Sun Devils that finished #4 in the AP poll and defeated the University of Michigan in the Rose Bowl after the 1986 season. Armstong recovered a key fumble in the ASU defeat of the University of Southern California that sealed the Rose Bowl bid for ASU. Armstong finished the 1986 season with 26 tackles (1 for a loss- a sack), 1 forced fumble and 1 fumble recovery.

As a starter for the 1987 Sun Devils, he had a key role in the defeat of the Oregon State Beavers, when he sacked Erik Wilhelm in the end zone for a safety that began a 11-0 surge by the Sun Devils in sealing a 30-21 win.[2] The 1987 Sun Devils finished #20 in the final AP poll after defeating Air Force in the 1987 Freedom Bowl. Trace ended the 1987 season with 51 tackles (10 for a loss including a team-leading 7 sacks). He was an honorable mention All-America by both the AP and UPI.

Trace was denied a final year of eligibility by the NCAA due to an "academic mix-up", which he could only recoup if he transferred to another school.[3] However, he was granted immediate eligibility after NCAA waived its transfer rule in unusual academic status case from high school which allowed the transfer.

As a result, Armstrong transferred to the University of Florida and played one season with the Gators and earned first-team All-SEC and All-America honor at defensive tackle. Registered Gator single-season record for most tackles by for a loss with 19, with 7 of those sacks. In all, Armstrong made 59 tackles with 41 of those solo. Finished his collegiate career on the sidelines in a Gator 14-10 win over the University of Illinois in the All American Bowl on December 29, 1988. Armstrong underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair cartilage damage on his left knee two weeks prior to the game and could not play.

Ended college career with 169 tackles (32 for losses) and 15 sacks. He earned a B.S. in Psychology at ASU and UF. In 2006 was voted to the University of Florida Gator 100th Anniversary Team as a defensive lineman with players like Jack Youngblood and Kevin Carter.

NFL career


Chicago Bears

Drafted in the 1st round of the 1989 draft and signed with the Bears on August 18, 1989. His total package was a reported $2.2 million over four years.

After the Bears 47-27 victory at Detroit on September 27, 1989, Trace Armstrong perhaps made his first NFL mark. After reporting late to training camp because of a contract dispute, and then struggling through the first two games of the season, Armstrong finally found his niche at left defensive end against the Lions, making 5 solo tackles, defending a pass and getting his first pro sack by dumping Lions quarterback Bob Gagliano. Armstrong finished his rookie season with 5 sacks and was voted All-rookie. His teammates voted him the winner of the Brian Piccolo Award for "courage, loyalty, teamwork, dedication, and sense of humor".

The following season, 1990, Armstrong notched 10 sacks, the first of five seasons he reached double-digits. NFC Defensive Player of the Month in September, 1990, in which he totaled 25 tackles, five sacks, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, and one pass defended.

In 1991 he recorded only 1.5 sacks, in part because although he was the starting left defensive end he moved to defensive tackle in the Bears "nickel defense", perhaps cutting down on his pass-rush opportunities. He was slated to play that spot again in 1992, however, the development of Alonzo Spellman allowed Armstrong to play end in all situations. As a result his sack total was a 6.5.

On March 16, 1993, Armstrong re-signed a 3-year $3 million deal with the Bears which was reported to make him one of the five highest-paid players on the team. In 1993 Trace notched 11.5 sacks and forced three fumbles. He was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for 3 tackles, 1 forced fumble, two fumble recoveries, and 2 sacks in a Thanksgiving Day win over Detroit. Also in 1993 had 6 tackles and 2 sacks at Philadelphia on October 10, 1993, and then career-best 2.5 sacks at Kansas City on November 21, 1993.

In 1994, his last in Chicago, he had 7.5 sacks. In the playoffs that season, against the Minnesota Vikings, January 1, 1995, Armstrong recorded both of the Bears' sacks in a 35-18 win over the Vikings for which he was awarded the NFC Defensive Player of the Week award.

Miami Dolphins

On April 4, 1995, the Dolphins traded a 2nd and 3rd round draft pick for Armstrong. He was acquired to fill a role as a designated pass rusher, a player who comes into the game in likely passing downs in an effort to give the team's pass rush a boost. This is a role Armstrong filled the rest of his career, however, in five seasons, injuries to the starting ends forced Trace into a starting role. On October 12, 1995, Armstrong signed a 5-year $8.9 million contract extension with the Dolphins.

In 1996 Armstrong started 9 games and recorded 12 sacks. He remained the starter in 1997 and returned to the "designated rusher" role in 1998. He was named as the NFL's Defensive Player of the Week for postseason games played January 8-9, 2000. In the Dolphins 20-17 win over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, January 9, 2000, Armstrong helped a defense which limited Seattle to 32 total yards in the second half. He registered five tackles, three sacks and one quarterback hurry on the day.

He led the AFC in quarterback sacks (16.5) in 2000 with the Miami Dolphins while recording 7 forced fumbles, also a career-high. He also made the Pro Bowl for the only time in his career. He did this despite not starting a single game, making his the first so-called designated pass rusher to go to the Pro Bowl since Fred Dean was voted to the 1983 post-season all-star game.

Oakland Raiders

In 2001 Armstrong signed free-agent contract with the Raiders. The Raiders offered him a six-year deal worth approximately $18.5 million. However, the first two years were to pay approximately $8 million, including a $5 million signing bonus.[4] In his three years with the Raiders, Armstrong earned $9 million.

Armstrong sustained an Achilles tendon injury on September 30, 2001, causing him to miss the final 13 games of the 2001 season. In 2002 and 2003 Armstrong was presses into a starting role due to injuries of the so-called "run down defense" of the Raiders. In 2002 he started 8 games at right defensive end after Tony Bryant was hurt and in 2003 he started 7 games at left defensive end when Lorenzo Bromell was injured.

Trace suffered his own injuries in 2002 and 2003. In 2003 it was a groin injury that put him in the injured-reserve list and in 2003, he injured a shoulder in November which ended his 2003 season after 10 games.

While in Oakland, he was the 20th player in NFL history to record 100 career quarterback sacks and finished his career with a total of 106 officially recorded. After the 2003 season, (on March 4, 2004), he was released from the Oakland Raiders after failing a physical due to several substantial injuries incurred while in Oakland and retired from the NFL afterwards.[5] According the NFLPA records, in his 15 NFL seasons Armstrong earned approximately $23 million in salary and bonuses.

Life After Retirement

In 2009, Armstrong ran for the Executive Director of the National Football League Players' Association, a position left vacant by the death of Gene Upshaw. Although he was considered a favorite for the job, he lost the election to Washington DC-based attorney DeMaurice Smith.[6]


  1. ^ Wilson, Aaron (January 12, 2008). "Carroll County". Carroll County Times website. Retrieved 2008-11-30.  
  2. ^ San Jose Mercury-News, October 25, 1987
  3. ^ Akron Beacon Journal, December 24, 1987
  4. ^ Miami Herald, March 1, 2001.
  5. ^
  6. ^ DeMaurice Smith Named Executive Director of the NFLPA, March 13, 2009
Preceded by
Brad Muster &
Wendell Davis
Bears 1st round draft pick with
Donnell Woolford

Succeeded by
Mark Carrier
Preceded by
Mike Kenn
NFLPA President
March 23, 1996-April 1, 2004
Succeeded by
Troy Vincent


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