Golden Richards, former BYU star and Cowboys receiver, dies at 73

UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 18:  Football: Dallas Cowboys Golden Richards in action vs Minnesota Vikings, Bloomington, MN 9/18/1977  (Photo by Heinz Kluetmeier/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)

Golden Richards played wide receiver for seven seasons in the NFL, and he won a Super Bowl with the Cowboys in the 1977 season. (Photo by Heinz Kluetmeier/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)

John “Golden” Richards, the Dallas Cowboys wide receiver who was part of their Super Bowl XII-winning team, died Friday of congestive heart failure at his home in Utah. He was 73 years old.

Richards was a decorated high school athlete, making all-state honors in football, basketball and track and field in Utah. While attending BYU, he was the team’s leading receiver and a dangerous return man on punts and kickoffs.

After spending his senior season at the University of Hawai’i, Richards was selected in the second round of the 1973 NFL Draft by the Cowboys. Mostly a special teams player in his rookie year, he made an impact in the NFC championship game that season, returning a punt for a 63-yard touchdown.

Richards became a regular starter in his second NFL season and became the Cowboys’ main deep threat. Of his 26 receptions during the 1974 season, four were for over 43 yards.

During Super Bowl XII in 1978 against the Denver Broncos, Richards had his most memorable moment as a pro.

As the Cowboys led 20-10 with seven minutes to play in the fourth quarter, quarterback Roger Staubach pitched the ball to running back Robert Newhouse. After running a few yards, Newhouse then turned and threw a pass downfield to Richards for a 29-yard touchdown to seal the game.

The Cowboys would hold on to the lead to win their second Super Bowl.

Richards lost his starting spot the following season and was dealt to the Chicago Bears. He would record the most receptions (28) of his career in 1978, but injuries hampered the next two years, leading to his retirement in 1980. He finished his NFL career with 122 catches for 2,136 yards and 17 touchdowns.

Doug Richards told The Deseret News that his brother struggled with alcoholism and drug addiction during his retirement, and was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2011. A decade later, he broke his hip, which required four surgeries and only added to his health issues.

“Seven or eight years of wear and tear on the football field for a 175-pound wide receiver who was concussed several times, too,” Doug said. “That obviously took its toll.”

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