Date of birth: (1950-10-19) October 19, 1950 (age 70)
Place of birth: Detroit, Michigan
Career information
Position(s): Cornerback
College: Wayne State
 As player:
1974-1980 Atlanta Falcons
Playing stats at

Richard Reese Byas, Jr. (October 19, 1950 in Detroit, Michigan) is a former American football defensive back in the National Football League; he was also a 1987 inductee to the Wayne State University Athletic Hall of Fame.[1]

Early years[edit | edit source]

During a stellar career at Detroit's Mackenzie High School, Byas led the football team through an undefeated campaign in 1967. So stingy was the 1967 Stag defensive unit, that Mackenzie's opponents scored only two points during the entire teacher strike-shortened season.[2] Upon graduation in 1969, Byas brought his football and track talents to Eastern Michigan University. After one year at EMU, Byas transferred to Wayne State; during three seasons with WSU, Byas set or tied eight career, single season and single game football records.

In 1973, Byas established WSU single season records for kickoff returns, kickoff return yardage, punt returns, and punt return yardage. Byas was primarily a sprinter and long jumper during his collegiate track and field career; in his senior year, he was captain of both the WSU track and football team.[3] Richard Byas Jr. received his bachelors degree in Education from Wayne State in 1974; the same year he was signed as a free agent by the NFL's Atlanta Falcons.

NFL career[edit | edit source]

Through seven full seasons with the Falcons, as a defensive back and kickoff return specialist, Byas played in 103 games and produced six career interceptions for 193 yards and one touchdown. Byas also totaled 23 career kickoff returns for 519 yards and a 22.6 yard average; he forced several blocked punts that resulted in Atlanta touchdowns and, on eight occasions, Byas was awarded the game ball by his teammates. 1977 was arguably Byas's best season as a pro; he intercepted three passes for 122 yards, including one interception resulting in the lone touchdown of his career - a 72-yard return of an Archie Manning pass in Atlanta’s 21-20 loss to the New Orleans Saints.[4]

References[edit | edit source]

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