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100 Day Sun Devil Football Countdown to Kickoff, #25: Ron Pritchard, On the Field and In the Ring

Ron Pritchard (Photo: ASU)
Ron Pritchard (Photo: ASU)

Ron Pritchard was a beast on the gridiron, possessing enough brute strength to even translate his talents to pro wrestling. The Chicago product, raised in California, decided to attend ASU after earning Honorable Mention All-American honors during his senior year at Antioch High School.

Pritchard played for the Devils during a historic era, from 1966-1968. The team was coached by the legendary Frank Kush, sported recently deceased all-time great running back Art Malone while Paul Ray Powell controlled the secondary by picking off nearly everything in sight. Current Sun Devil fans may have to wait a while before Coach Graham assembles a roster like that.

Amongst the greats listed above, Pritchard made just as long of a lasting imprint on ASU football history. Pritchard was a key member of back-to-back 8-2 seasons in his junior and senior campaigns. Both of those squads were ranked inside the top-20.

The team success could be directly translated to the running list of accolades that Pritchard collected. For example, he was a1968 All-American, winning honors as the best defensive player in the prestigious East-West Shrine game, a College Football Hall of Fame member and more.

Pritchard's standout performances clearly did not go unnoticed, being selected in the first round (19th overall) by Houston Oilers (American Football League). It appeared to be the beginning of a great professional football career. Yet after Pritchard's rookie year, a routine visit to Calgary to see friend and ex-teammate Bob Lueck became a trip that sparked his wrestling interest.

"I went up there just to visit him for a week, my wife and I. By the end of the week, I was wrestling Stu Hart in Edmonton or somewhere," Pritchard recalled to Slam Sports. "I had the privilege of being trained in the Dungeon for a couple of hours"

After Pritchard returned home, there was practically no intention to pursue any wrestling career, mainly because of the NFL. Although, wrestling did eventually develop a special place in his heart, competting in fights consistently during NFL off-seasons.

"I had the opportunity to wrestle with Ray Stevens and Pat Patterson and Superstar Billy Graham. Heck, I was on a battle royal with Bobo Brazil, worked for The Sheik -- all these big names." Pritchard said.

Despite the off-season wrestling hobby, Pritchard ended up playing eight NFL seasons, three for the Oilers and five as a Bengal. His playing days was slightly derailed due to numerous knee injuries.

Pritchard was no slouch as a wrestler, but excellent football ability will be used to define his athletic career.

See the previous entries on House of Sparky's 100 day countdown here

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