Dryer, Fred ‘Hunter’

Cards: Topps 1971, Topps 1976
Acquired: TTM 2017, C/o Work

I think the first time I saw Fred Dryer was during the mid-80s. It was premiere week and NBC was eager to find a competing product to Magnum PI. They cast Fred Dryer as the lead in the TV show Hunter and the rest was history.  As a kid I never really knew about Fred nor was I observant enough to know that he was a former football player, but when I became aware of football and the LA Rams were fast becoming my favorite NFC team, I knew eventually I wanted to get Fred’s autograph.

A first round pick of the New York Giants in 1969 Fred wrecked opposing offensive lines from the start of his career recording 8.5 sacks in his first year from his defensive end position.  Considered a wild man by teammates, Fred lived out of a van and grew out his hair and beard. He even offered to set his hair on fire whenever he scored another TD later in his career.  In 1970, he had 12 sacks and 69 tackles earning his first Pro Bowl honors. After recording 8.5 sacks in 1971, Fred was traded to the New England Patriots for a bevvy of picks. Refusing to report, the Patriots were left with no choice but to deal Fred to the Los Angeles Rams.

During his 1972 season, the Rams used Fred as one of the first situational pass rushers. He’d put up 4.5 sacks. LA started him full time at defensive end the following year and he made history sacking Green Bay quarterback Scott Hunter twice in a game for a safety.  Fred finished with 10 sacks in 1973.  His best season as a pro came in 1975 when he earned another Pro Bowl honor, with 61 tackles, 12 sacks and a 20 yard interception for a TD against the Eagles.

Fred helped the Rams make Super Bowl XIV in 1979. During the season he had a 5 sack game against his former team the Giants, en route to a 10 sack season.  He retired after the 1981 season.  A well decorated member of the NFL, it’s disappointing that Fred has not received a call to the HoF, however during the period he played, sacks and tackles were not an official statistic.

Fred has been a pretty busy TV and film actor since retirement. Before the TV show Hunter made him a star, he was also considered for the TV show Cheers to play the main role of Sam Malone.  In the past few years he’s seen a renaissance of sorts cast in a variety of diverse roles, including a brief appearance on Agents of Shield as Octavian Bloom- a HYDRA leader.

G/GS 176/165     TAC  N/A      SAC  104.0    FUM 20
INT  1     YDS 20      AVG 20.0    TD 1     LG 20T