I met Ricky at the Christian Okoye Foundation Skills Camp in 2011. He was running drills with kids and giving them pep talks on life. Keenly aware possibly of the value and rarity of his card from the Topps 1985 USFL set, he had his own card printed that he gave to the kids. As I was wandering around taking photos of the different drills and kids, I was able to finagle a card and autograph off of him. We talked at length about NCAA corruption and how the history of the franchises he had played for had been erased.
When one kid refused to play as a ‘skin’ when the boys played were scrimmaging, the child came over to sit on the bleachers to pout with his father. Ricky noticed that the boy was not playing and literally came over to drag him back in. The child went ahead and scored a touchdown and made an interception during the scrimmage. An excitable and electric personality, it’s no surprise that Ellis is President of NFL Alumni Association in Southern California.
After graduating from Cal State Fullerton, Ricky would be signed by the British Columbia Lions of the CFL in 1978. He’d then make the jump to the USFL. Ricky would play in the USFL in 1983, where he’d establish himself as one of future NFL Hall of Famer Steve Young‘s primary targets on the Los Angeles Express. During the 1983 season, he’d make 69 receptions for 719 yards and 6 touchdowns. In 1984, Ricky would make 25 receptions for 191 yards and a touchdown. Among Ricky’s fondest memories of playing in the USFL was after a game against Bobby Hebert‘s Michigan Panthers, they’d head south to face the Tampa Bay Bandits, but were given a week off in between games. He spent the whole week jet skiing and started the game against the Bandits with sore hamstrings. Before the USFL imploded Ricky signed with the Houston Oilers and retired after the 1985 season. He also at some point also played for the Seattle Seahawks.
As Ricky and I talked he lamented about how his history was being erased. The Astrodome and the Oilers were gone, Kingdome in Seattle imploded and the jerseys changed, the USFL of course long gone, and his college killing the football program there because of costs. After his NFL career Ricky has also spent time teaching, being a motivational speaker and a parole agent.
Below are Ricky’s USFL statistics:
GP 36 Rec 94 Yds 907 Avg 9.6 Td 7