Les Richter, who along with fellow Class of 2011 enshrinee Marshall Faulk, now brings the total number of long-time members of the Rams franchise to be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame to 15.
Richter was regarded as one of the roughest players in the NFL during his career. He fought through several significant injuries without missing any action. Examples included suffering 14 stitches after being hit in the head with a helmet during a skirmish with the Baltimore Colts; playing six preseason games and all 12 regular season games with torn cartilage in his knee in 1958; and playing through a (twice) broken cheekbone in 1961.
He was the L.A. Rams' leading scorer in 1955 and 1956.
He handled the Rams placekicking duties during his first three seasons. He only missed three extra points in 109 career attempts and converted 29 field goals. He was L.A.’s leading scorer in 1955 and 1956.
He was regarded as one of the major team leaders in 1955 when the Rams won the NFL’s Western Conference with an 8-3-1 mark. Aside from serving as the defensive “quarterback” he tied a then team record with 13 field goals including his conversion of the last seven three-point attempts that year. He kicked a 33-yard, game-winning field goal in the closing seconds against the Pittsburgh Steelers to give the Rams a win in what was described as the team’s “most thrilling” game of the year.
During his nine seasons with the Rams, Richter became one of the most celebrated players in the team’s history. He won team Rookie of the Year honors in 1954 and was named the team’s Most Valuable Player three times.
Les Richter was the second player selected overall in the 1952 NFL Draft by the New York Yanks. Two days later the Yanks organization folded and the assets of the club, including Richter were sent to the expansion Dallas Texans. The Texans quickly dealt the All-American from California to the Los Angeles Rams for an astonishing 11 players.
Following his football career Richter moved to motorsports, first as the president of Riverside International Raceway and then as a NASCAR executive. He was, for the first time, added to the list of 25 nominees under consideration for the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s Class of 2012.
“The Rams are extremely proud that Les Richter has received the highest individual honor possible for a professional football player. Richter played at a time when the game was rapidly changing, and he was ahead of the curve. Les was the definition of a team player, as evident by the many roles he held during his illustrious career with the Rams. In addition to being one of the top linebackers of his era, he saw action on the offensive line and spent time as the team’s kicker and long snapper. We are pleased that Les receives such well-deserved recognition and congratulate the Richter family on this honor.” - St. Louis Rams Organization
"Les was a tough, hard-nosed football player who gave it his all on every play and in every practice. He knocked the hell out of people. I mean, he'd really hit you. Les Richter was a great teammate." - Hall of Famer Deacon Jones
“It’s always puzzled me why Les was not in the Hall of Fame. He was a great, great player. I don’t know any linebacker in that era who even compared to him. He’s the kind of guy that was hard to overlook. He was big, he was fast, and he was an extremely productive player. When you prepared to play the Rams, Les was the guy that you really game planned for. He was their defense. He was successful in business, he was successful in life and was a great person.” - Hall of Famer Frank Gifford, who competed against Richter in high school, college and the NFL
“Les has been deserving of the Hall of Fame for quite some time, and I’m thrilled to see him receive this honor. Les was one of the pioneers of the middle linebacker position. Before Sid Gillman started throwing the football around, the NFL was all run game, and most teams played a 5-2 front. Les was one of the first true middle linebackers who could defend the run and the pass. He was an All-Pro and was the best in the business for a number of years. You talk about smart, he was the valedictorian at Cal, and calling the signals on the field and making the adjustments, that all went along with kind of establishing a new position. Les was a new breed of middle linebacker, which was part lineman and part defensive back. He could really cover, and that was the difference between him and the group in front of him.” - Jack Pardee, former NFL head coach and former Richter teammate
“He was a tremendous player who brought a lot to the table. He was a big man that could really run, which was unique in that era. He played in an era with guys like Ray Nitschke. Les was bigger. As a football player, he had the total package: brains, brawn, toughness and ability. He had all the physical attributes to be a great linebacker, but his intelligence and instincts set him apart.” - Jim Hanifan, Former NFL head coach and Richter’s teammate at Cal
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“(He was) the best … His intelligence was probably his greatest calling card, in all walks of life and not just football. His size was standard for the day, but he was noted for his size of calves and legs, both extremely big and strong. Les was not noted for his speed and probably would not have been picked by today’s 40-yard speed nuts. He might not have been fast, but he was always where the ball was. I played 10 years with the Rams and Bears and would find it hard to find anyone who excelled at his position as much as Les Richter did at middle linebacker, period.” - Jon Arnett, Pro Bowl halfback and former teammate