Keith Rivers
refer to caption
Rivers in 2007 while at USC
No. 55, 56
Personal information
Born: (1986-05-05) May 5, 1986 (age 37)
San Bernardino, California, U.S.
Height:6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight:235 lb (107 kg)
Career information
High school:Lake Mary (FL)
College:USC (2004–2007)
NFL Draft:2008 / Round: 1 / Pick: 9
Career history
 * Offseason and/or practice squad member only
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Total tackles:291
Forced fumbles:1
Fumble recoveries:2
Player stats at

Keith Rivers (born May 5, 1986) is a former American football linebacker. He was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals ninth overall in the 2008 NFL Draft and also played for the New York Giants and Buffalo Bills. He played college football at USC. After leaving football, he developed an interest in art and collection of works by contemporary artists.[1]

Early life

Rivers was a decorated letterman in football at Lake Mary High School in Lake Mary, Florida. His awards include USA Today All-USA first team, Parade All-American, Super Prep All-American, Prep Star All-American, EA Sports All-American, All-American, Super Prep Elite 50, Prep Star Top 100 Dream Team, Lemming Top 10, Super Prep All-Dixie, Prep Star All-Southeast, Fox Sports Net All-South, Gatorade Florida Player of the Year and Florida Class 6A Mr. Football runner-up as a senior linebacker.[2] He played in the 2004 U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

College career

Rivers was heavily recruited. Then-University of Florida coach Ron Zook, noted for his recruiting ability, made a strong push, including talking to Rivers at 2 a.m. on National Signing Day in 2003. In the end, Rivers selected USC; and, to cinch the pact, the Trojan coaching staff committed to bestowing Rivers, a worthy future player, with the famed USC linebacker jersey # 55 to wear during his Trojan career, which is selectively awarded and has traditionally been given to a promising linebacker with the potential of becoming a USC football and NFL great, and includes past Trojan and NFL star players, all members of the so-called USC linebacker "Club 55", such as Junior Seau, Willie McGinest and Chris Claiborne.[3]

USC linebacker coach Ken Norton Jr nicknamed Rivers "the Shark" for his aggressive play on the field, juxtaposed to his polite demeanor off of it.[4]

Rivers was on the watch list in 2006 for the Bednarik Award, Lombardi Award, Bronko Nagurski Trophy, and Lott Trophy. He was 2006 and coaches first-team all-Pac-10. The All-American selection with 78 tackles, Rivers decided to stay for his senior season.[5]

Rivers was a 2007 preseason Sporting News, Street & Smith's, Lindy's, Phil Steele's, Blue Ribbon and All-American. At the end of the 2007 regular season, Rivers was selected to the All-Pacific-10 Conference first-team for the second year in a row by league coaches.[6] He was also selected to the All-American First-team.[7]

He graduated from USC with a Bachelor of Science in Public Policy, Management, and Planning.[8]

Professional football career

Rivers with the Bills in 2014
Pre-draft measurables
Height Weight 40-yard dash 10-yard split 20-yard split 20-yard shuttle Vertical jump Broad jump Bench press
6 ft 2+14 in
(1.89 m)
241 lb
(109 kg)
4.54 s 1.56 s 2.65 s 4.38 s 42.0 in
(1.07 m)
10 ft 7 in
(3.23 m)
24 reps
All values from NFL Combine[9]

Cincinnati Bengals

Rivers was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in the first round of the 2008 NFL Draft with the ninth overall pick.[10] Rivers signed a contract with the Bengals on August 5, ending the 10-day holdout.[11]

Keith Rivers began his rookie season with 10 tackles against the Baltimore Ravens. In the following game against the Tennessee Titans, Rivers totaled 8 tackles. Against the New York Giants, Rivers recorded two tackles, while against the Cleveland Browns Rivers defensive production totaled 8 tackles. Rivers' rookie season was abruptly ended due to a shattered jaw suffered during a block by Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward in Week 7, when Ward's helmet struck Rivers' chin. That action and the season-ending injury that resulted led to the NFL instituting the "Hines Ward Rule" [12] after the season, whereby it would henceforth be illegal for blockers to land a blindside block using their helmet, forearm or shoulder, to strike at the head or neck area of a defender.

Despite missing the final nine games, Rivers finished his rookie season with 37 tackles, one interception, and a forced fumble. Rivers received the only vote for 2008 Defensive Rookie of the Year that didn't go to winner Jerod Mayo.[13]

New York Giants

On April 11, 2012, Rivers was traded to the New York Giants for a 5th round draft pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.[14]

Buffalo Bills

On March 12, 2014, Rivers signed a two-year, $5 million contract with the Buffalo Bills.[15] Rivers was released by the Bills on February 17, 2015.

Dallas Cowboys

Rivers signed with the Dallas Cowboys in March 2015.[16]

Rivers retired from football on the first day of Dallas Cowboys training camp, July 31, 2015.[17]

NFL statistics

Year Team GP Tackles Fumbles Interceptions
Comb Solo Ast Sack FF FR Int Yds Avg Lng TD PD
2008 CIN 7 37 24 13 0.0 1 0 1 39 39.0 39 0 1
2009 CIN 13 72 46 26 1.0 0 0 1 0 0.0 0 0 2
2010 CIN 15 77 51 26 1.0 0 0 0 0 0.0 0 0 2
2011 CIN 0 did not play due to injury
2012 NYG 11 44 34 10 0.0 0 1 0 0 0.0 0 0 1
2013 NYG 16 45 23 22 1.0 0 1 0 0 0.0 0 0 1
2014 BUF 12 16 11 5 0.0 0 0 0 0 0.0 0 0 0
Career[18] 74 291 189 102 3.0 1 2 2 39 19.5 39 0 7

Life after football

After retiring from football, Rivers delved in to the art world, deepening an interest that was sparked in high school. He studied modern art and went to art shows. Starting with his first purchase of a piece by Andy Warhol, his collection has expanded to include works by Barbara Kruger and John Baldessari and more contemporary artists like Rashid Johnson and Glenn Ligon. [1] He served as a guest judge in the 2023 reality TV competition, The Exhibit: Finding the Next Great Artist. [19]


  1. ^ a b Chen, Min (March 13, 2019). "After an N.F.L. Career, Keith Rivers Is Exploring Another Field". New York Times. New York, NY. Retrieved April 3, 2023.
  2. ^ USC Trojans, Keith Rivers Archived 2009-05-26 at the Wayback Machine, USC Player Bio, November 14, 2007.
  3. ^ Chris Harry, Rivers lives up to No. 55, Orlando Sentinel, February 25, 2008.
  4. ^ Mark Saxon, USC's Shark attack, The Orange County Register, August 24, 2007.
  5. ^ " - NCAA Football - USC's top tackler to return for senior year - Thursday January 11, 2007 7:24PM". Archived from the original on 2007-01-15. Retrieved 2007-01-12.
  6. ^ Pac-10 Football Awards and All-Conference Team Announced Archived 2009-02-12 at the Wayback Machine, Pacific 10 Conference, December 3, 2007.
  7. ^'s All-Americas,, December 11, 2007.
  8. ^ James Walker, Rookie Rivers should fill immediate Bengals' needs,, May 31, 2008, Accessed June 4, 2008.
  9. ^ "2008 Draft Scout Keith Rivers, Southern California NFL Draft Scout College Football Profile". Retrieved May 30, 2022.
  10. ^ "2008 NFL Draft Listing". Retrieved 2023-05-11.
  11. ^ Bengals ink Rivers
  12. ^ NFL approves 'Hines Ward rule', Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 24 2009
  13. ^ Patriots' Mayo wins Defensive Rookie of Year award
  14. ^ "Keith Rivers traded from Bengals to Giants for fifth-round pick".
  15. ^ Bills, LB Keith Rivers agree to terms
  16. ^ Keith Rivers signs one-year contract with Cowboys
  17. ^ Veteran LB Keith Rivers retiring from NFL
  18. ^ "Keith Rivers Stats". ESPN Internet Ventures. Retrieved 4 March 2014.
  19. ^ Chen, Min (April 3, 2023). "'The Exhibit' Recap: In the Reality Show's Fourth Episode Judges Clash Over Beauty and Justice". Artnet. New York, NY. Retrieved April 3, 2023.