Biography: Rick Upchurch, WR

Rick Upchurch
Former Denver Broncos player Rick Upchurch speaks after being inducted into the Broncos ring of honor at half time of an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
Rick Upchurch joined Gene Mingo and Dan Reeves as Denver Broncos Ring of Fame inductees in 2014.

Upchurch, who spent his entire nine-year NFL career (1975-83) with the Broncos, made four Pro Bowls (1976, ’78-79, ’82) and five Associated Press All-Pro teams (1976-79, ’82) as a returner. He was named a first-team 1970s NFL All-Decade choice by the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee in addition to earning second-team 1980s NFL All-Decade honors as a kick returner.

Upchurch is the only player in Broncos history to make multiple all-decade teams with the franchise. His career totals include 267 receptions for 4,369 yards (16.4 avg.) with 24 touchdowns, 49 rushes for 349 yards (7.1 avg.) with three scores, 248 punt returns for 3,008 yards (12.1 avg.) with eight touchdowns as well as 95 kickoff returns for 2,355 yards (24.8 avg.).

Upchurch’s eight career punt return scores tied Pro Football Hall of Fame safety Jack Christiansen for the most in NFL history at the time of his retirement and currently rank first in franchise annals.

In 1976, he led the NFL with a 13.7-yard punt return average and four punt return scores. His four touchdowns on punt returns tied an NFL record which still hasn’t been broken. He finished first in the league in punt return average (16.1) and punt return touchdowns (2) again in 1982. His best offensive season came in 1979 when he paced the Broncos with 64 receptions for 937 yards (14.6 avg.) with seven touchdowns. His 937 yards marked the sixth-highest single-season total in franchise history at the time and his seven receiving scores tied for sixth.

Selected by the Broncos in the fourth round (95th overall) of the 1975 NFL Draft from the University of Minnesota, Upchurch was a 2003 inductee into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame. He was born on May 20, 1952, in Toledo, Ohio.