Albert Daniel “Bert” Rechichar, who played for the Baltimore Colts and two other NFL teams and held the record for the league’s longest field goal for nearly two decades, died Friday of various ailments in Belle Vernon, Pa. He was 89.
Rechichar, primarily a defensive back, was with the Colts in 1953 when he was summoned to kick the first field goal of his career. It was successful from 56-yards away and erased a record set 19 years before by Glenn Presnell of the Detroit Lions.
The record lasted until Tom Dempsey of the New Orleans Saints kicked a 63-yarder in 1970.
Rechichar was remembered as an old-school tough guy. “That was him,” said his daughter, Gail Davis of Cumberland.
Rechichar “always looked and talked tough and, most assuredly, played the same way,” the Baltimore Sun’s John Steadman wrote of the player in 1997. "He once told Howard ‘Hopalong’ Cassady, a Heisman Trophy winner, after tackling him hard along the sidelines, ‘Listen, Cassady, this ain’t Ohio State. This is the National Football League and we tear out your eyeballs.’ "
Of the record kick, Steadman wrote that Rechichar was summoned for a desperation try in the waning moments of a 1953 game against the Chicago Bears.
“Bert told holder Tom Keane: ‘Get that ball down because I got to go to the bathroom.’ Then he drove the kick, on his initial try, clear over the back line from 56 yards. The then-record kick made Rechichar an instant celebrity. And he managed to do it while wearing a regular, soft-toed football shoe, not the box-type of kicking boot he would later use."
Rechichar spent seven of his 10 pro years in Baltimore and was a part of two championship teams. He also played for the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers, and for the American Football League’s New York Titans.
He was born in Belle Vernon on July 16, 1930, the youngest of 10 children.
Rechichar, who suffered from Alzheimer’s, is survived by a son, Donald Rechichar of Belle Vernon, and a daughter, Gail Davis of Cumberland. Another son, Bert, died previously.