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Richie Petitbon – Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame

Football, 1954-72
Jesuit High School/Tulane University/NFL

Inducted: 1979

Richie Petitbon was an outstanding football player at Jesuit High School, Tulane University and in the NFL.

After his standout high school career, which included a football state championship in 1953, Petitbon enrolled at Loyola University on a track scholarship in 1957. However, after one year at Loyola, he crossed Freret Street to join the Tulane football team and became a standout quarterback for the Green Wave. He won All-Southeastern Conference quarterback honors in 1958, and his average of 27.6 yards per kickoff return that year ranked second on the school’s all-time list. His career average of 24.3 yards per kickoff return was a school record that still ranks among the best all-time for the Green Wave. He is still among the best at Tulane in single-game completion percentage with his 10-of-11 performance against Texas.

After his Tulane tenure, he was selected in the second round of the 1959 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears. He would play 10 years with the Bears as a star defensive back – his 38 career interceptions are second all-time in the organization’s history (as of 2020). His 101-yard interception return against the Rams in 1962 is the longest in Bears’ history and he also owns Bears’ marks with three interceptions in a game (against Green Bay in 1967) and interception return yards in a season (212 in 1962). In 1963, he registered eight interceptions and was a key defender for the Bears’ NFL Championship team – Petitbon’s end-zone interception of Y.A. Tittle in the final seconds of the title game against the New York Giants clinched the championship.

He closed his playing career with two years with the Los Angeles Rams (1969-70) and the Washington Redskins (1971-72). In his first game with Washington, Petitbon posted another three-interception game and in 1972, the Redskins reached the Super Bowl, losing to the Miami Dolphins in their perfect season. He served as an assistant coach with the Houston Oilers (1973-77) before returning to the Redskins as an assistant from 1978-92 – winning three Super Bowls (1982, 1987 and 1991). He was Washington’s head coach in 1993.

Petitbon, who was born on April 18, 1938, is the younger brother of fellow Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Famer John Petitbon. He was inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 1992.

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