Former Texas Tech star Rivera grat­i­fied to be among in­ductees

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS - By ralph D. russo Gabe rivera lost some of his me­mory as a re­sult of an auto ac­ci­dent.

NEW YORK — Gabe Rivera was maybe the great­est de­fen­sive line­man to play at Texas Tech.

They called him Señor Sack. He was an All-Amer­i­can in 1982 and was drafted by the Steel­ers in the first round in 1983.

He has trou­ble remembering his play­ing days now. A car ac­ci­dent dur­ing his rookie sea­son left him in a wheel­chair and robbed him of some of his me­mory.

The con­grat­u­la­tions af­ter he was elected to the Col­lege Hall of Fame helped bring back some of those mem­o­ries.

“When peo­ple started con­grat­u­lat­ing me, they’d say, ‘I re­mem­ber when you did this and did that.’ It feels good that they re­mem­ber those things,” Rivera said Tues­day.

He was part of a class of 14 play­ers and three coaches to be in­ducted Tues­day night at the Na­tional Foot­ball Foun­da­tion ban­quet.

Heis­man Tro­phy win­ner Ty Det­mer and former Mi­ami coach Jimmy John­son also were among the in­ductees.

“At this point in your life, you’ve been re­moved from foot­ball long enough now that you really ap­pre­ci­ate those times you had and you kind of take a step back and re­flect on all that and all the friends and team­mates and coaches you were able to play with,” said Det­mer, who won the Heis­man for BYU in 1990.

The other play­ers in the Hall class are LSU tail­back Charles Alexan­der, Pur­due half­back Otis Arm­strong, Cal­i­for­nia quar­ter­back Steve Bartkowski, South­ern Cal split end Hal Bed­sole, Notre Dame tight end Dave Casper, Rice quar­ter­back Tommy Kramer, Syra­cuse re­ceiver Art Monk, Colorado State de­fen­sive back Greg My­ers, UCLA of­fen­sive tackle Jonathan Og­den, Kansas State line­backer Mark Si­moneau, Air Force safety Scott Thomas, and Colorado guard John Wooten.

The other coaches are Phillip Fulmer, who won the first BCS ti­tle in 1998 with Ten­nessee, and R.C. Slocum, who coached Texas A&M in 1989-2002.

Rivera, 51, grew up in San An­to­nio and went to west to play col­lege foot­ball in Lub­bock for the Red Raiders as a line­backer and a tight end. He went from about 230 pounds to 280 and turned into one of the best de­fen­sive line­men in the coun­try.

He was the 21st over­all draft pick in 1983 by Pitts­burgh, but in Oc­to­ber of that year he got into an au­to­mo­bile ac­ci­dent that left him a para­plegic. He sus­tained head in­juries that caused lin­ger­ing me­mory is­sues.

He said he tries not to think about could have been. “You try not to but your mind tells you th­ese things and it’s like, I prob­a­bly could have done that,” he said. “It’s kind of hard some­times.”

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