American Football Database
For the race car driver, see Ricky Sanders (NASCAR).
Ricky Sanders
No. 46, 83, 80     
Wide receiver
Personal information
Date of birth: (1962-09-30) September 30, 1962 (age 59)
Place of birth: Temple, Texas
Career information
College: Texas State
Debuted in 1986 for the [[{{{debutteam}}}]]
Last played in 1995 for the [[{{{finalteam}}}]]
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Receptions     483
Receiving yards     6,477
Touchdowns     37
Stats at

Ricky Wayne Sanders (born August 30, 1962 in Temple, Texas) is a former American football wide receiver who played for eight seasons with the Washington Redskins and one for the Atlanta Falcons in the National Football League from 1986 to 1994. He played running back, safety, and place kicker (on kickoffs) as a three-year letterman for Belton High School in Belton, TX and broke five records.


Sanders was a three-sport star at Belton High School. He made all-region in basketball, placed in three events in the state track meet, and won accolades as a running back. Although recruited by numerous major colleges—including Michigan, UCLA, and Texas Tech, among many others—his junior year, he did not attend any of them. A string of injuries his senior football season may have been a contributing factor.

Sanders played college football at Southwest Texas State University and played two seasons in the United States Football League for the Houston Gamblers and teamed with Jim Kelly making 101 receptions for 1,370 yards and 11 touchdowns.[1] Sanders had been drafted by the New England Patriots in the 1984 NFL Supplemental Draft of USFL and CFL Players. New England traded his rights to the Washington Redskins. The Redskins had two talented receivers in the sure handed Art Monk and tough Gary Clark but felt they needed a legitimate deep threat and Sanders fit the bill.

Sanders started slow with only 14 catches but proved he was a deep threat averaging 20.4 yards per catch. His next season was better when he snatched 34 passes from new starting quarterback Jay Schroeder. He had his best season in 1987 when he finished fifth in the NFL on receiving yards with 1148 yards and second in receiving touchdowns with 12, a Redskins record, despite the fact that the Redskins had to switch quarterbacks mid-season due to Schroeder going down with an injury. The backup quarterback Doug Williams loved Sanders' speed and ability to run after the catch and went to him often. This duo was effective and the Redskins fought their way through the playoffs and into the Super Bowl.

In Super Bowl XXII, Sanders had one of the greatest performances in NFL history, catching nine passes for 193 yards and two touchdowns, while also returning three kickoffs for 46 yards. He set Super Bowl records for most receiving yards (193), most total yards (235), most touchdowns in one quarter (2), most receiving yards in one quarter (168), and longest touchdown reception (80 yards, tie) in Washington's 42-10 win over the Denver Broncos.[2] Shortly after the Super Bowl win, when the Redskins visited the White House, President Ronald Reagan completed a ceremonial pass to Sanders.

Next season was also a good one for Sanders as he made 80 grabs for 1,138 yards. His team had two quarterbacks (Doug Williams and Mark Rypien) and two other 1000 yard receivers (Art Monk and Gary Clark). Sanders numbers fell off slightly in 1990 when Rypien took over as full-time starter. Rypien went more to the reliable Art Monk and tenacious Gary Clark when more teams would play deep coverages to stop Sanders who was the fastest of the three; yet he still he managed 56 catches for 727 yards and was the main deep threat.

Sanders returned to the Super Bowl after 1991 season another good year taking 45 catches for 580 yards as part of a talented offensive group. The Posse torched the Detroit Lions and Atlanta Falcons on their way to the Super Bowl against the Buffalo Bills where Sanders had a big catch in the game. Sanders won two Super Bowl rings with the Redskins, in Super Bowl XXII and Super Bowl XXVI.

In 1991 Sanders was accused of running over a parking attendant outside a nightclub. He went on trial, but was not convicted. Washington drafted top Heisman trophy winning receiver Desmond Howard but he could not unseat Sanders. When Gibbs retired there were coaching and quarterback changes in Washington and Sanders became a free agent after the 1993 season and decided to move on. He signed with the Atlanta Falcons where he played two seasons with them, making 67 receptions for 599 yards and one touchdown in 1994. Sanders signed with the Miami Dolphins after the 1995 season[3] but never played a game with them.

Sanders finished his 10 NFL seasons with 483 receptions for 6,477 yards and 37 touchdowns. He also rushed for 94 yards and one touchdown, returned two punts for 12 yards, and gained 636 yards on 33 kickoff returns. Of particular note he has the distinction of having the most touches of the football of any player without a fumble during his career.


  1. 1984 Houston Gamblers retrieved March 5, 2006
  2. Super Bowl receiving records retrieved March 5, 2006
  3. Ricky Sanders is a done deal retrieved March 5, 2006

External links