Bert Rechichar, Pro Bowl defensive back and record-setting kicker, dies at 89

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Bert Rechichar, a Pro Bowl defensive back who also kicked and once owned the NFL record for longest field goal, has died at the age of 89.

A star on both offense and defense at Tennessee, Rechichar was selected by the Browns with the 10th overall pick in the 1952 NFL draft. After one year he was traded to the Baltimore Colts, where he found his greatest success.

Most of that success came as a defensive back, where Rechichar was twice chosen to the Pro Bowl. But his single most famous play came on special teams.

That was in a 1953 game when Rechichar (who had already had a pick-six on defense in the first half) was called upon to kick for the first time in his NFL career. He wasn’t the Colts’ normal kicker, but he was known to have a strong leg, and when they had the ball with a chance for a 56-yard field goal with four seconds remaining before halftime, the coaches called upon Rechichar to try it. Rechichar made the kick from 56 yards, which was the longest field goal in NFL history at the time. He would own the record for 17 years, until Tom Dempsey made a 63-yarder in 1970.

Rechichar played seven seasons for the Colts and was a member of the team that won the 1958 NFL championship in what became known as the “Greatest Game Ever Played.” He closed out his career with one year playing for the Steelers and one for the New York Titans.