Rudy Bukich
refer to caption
Bukich with Bears in 1967
No. 10, 14
Personal information
Born:(1930-09-15)September 15, 1930
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
Died:February 29, 2016(2016-02-29) (aged 85)
San Diego, California, U.S.
Height:6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight:195 lb (88 kg)
Career information
High school:St. Louis (MO) Roosevelt
College:Iowa, USC
NFL Draft:1953 / Round: 2 / Pick: 25
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Passing yards:8,433
Passer rating:66.6
Military career
Allegiance United States
Service/branch U.S. Army
Years of service1954–1956
Battles/warsCold War
Player stats at

Rudolph Andrew Bukich (September 15, 1930 – February 29, 2016) was an American football player, a quarterback in the National Football League (NFL) from 1953 to 1968. Known as "Rudy the Rifle" for his uncommon arm strength, he tied an NFL record with 13 consecutive pass completions in the 1964 season. One year later, he was the second-leading passer in the league.[1] He played college football at the University of Southern California, after transferring from the University of Iowa.[2]

High school career

Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, Bukich was the son of Croatian immigrants. He was starting quarterback in his senior year at Roosevelt High School, a team that did not win a game. Bukich played one game as wingback when Roosevelt tried to upset eventual league champions Cleveland High School, St Louis by attempting to surprise them by playing the single wing.

College career

As a freshman, Bukich played at the University of Iowa[3] before transferring to the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. During his senior year in 1952, USC played in the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day. After the Trojans' primary passer, All-American halfback Jim Sears, was sidelined early in the first quarter with a broken leg,[4] Bukich came in and conducted a drive, completing all but two of his passes, that resulted in the only score of the game, and USC defeated Wisconsin, 7–0.[5] Bukich was selected as the Most Valuable Player in the game, and after his career, he was inducted into the USC Trojan Hall of Fame and the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame (2004).

Professional career

Bukich was selected in the second round of the 1953 NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Rams. He later played for the Washington Redskins,[6][7] Chicago Bears, and the Pittsburgh Steelers. He missed the 1954 and 1955 seasons while serving in the U.S. Army.[2]

Bukich's greatest performances were during his second stint with the Bears in the 1960s. He was a reserve quarterback with the Bears in 1963 when they won the NFL championship (Bill Wade was the starter throughout the season). Bukich replaced Wade during Week Four against the Baltimore Colts after Wade completed just 5 of 21 passes. Bukich played the remainder of the game and completed 6 of 7 passes, including a pass to Ronnie Bull for a touchdown that was the deciding margin of victory.[8][9]

Post-playing career

After his playing days Bukich was a real estate developer in southern California.[2] In his later years he was diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), and he died at age 85 in San Diego in 2016.[10] He is interred at Miramar National Cemetery in San Diego.


  1. ^ "Rudy Bukich Stats". Retrieved November 24, 2021.
  2. ^ a b c "Ex-USC quarterback Rudy Bukich, 1953 Rose Bowl MVP, dies". USC Trojans Athletics. March 1, 2016. Archived from the original on April 5, 2017. Retrieved April 4, 2017.
  3. ^ "1949 U of Iowa football players". Sioux City Journal. 10 December 1949. p. 10. Retrieved November 24, 2021.
  4. ^ Myers, Bob (January 2, 1953). "USC beats Wisconsin in 37th Rose Bowl, 7-0". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. p. 14.
  5. ^ Ward, Arch (January 2, 1953). "U.S.C. pass in 3d defeats Wisconsin, 7-0". Chicago Daily Tribune. p. 1, sec. 3.
  6. ^ "Bears grab 'Skins QB on waivers". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. November 20, 1958. p. 19.
  7. ^ "Irked Redskin flays club's lust for gold". Chicago Daily Tribune. Associated Press. November 20, 1958. p. 1, sec. 6.
  8. ^ Rollow, Cooper (October 7, 1963). "Bears make it 4 in row; rally to beats Colts, 10-3". Chicago Daily Tribune. p. 1, sec. 3.
  9. ^ Coppock, Chet (October 4, 2013). "1963 season: Bears defeat Colts 10-3 at Wrigley". Chicago Bears. Archived from the original on October 5, 2013. Retrieved October 4, 2013.
  10. ^ Biggs, Brad (March 1, 2016). "Former Chicago Bears' QB Rudy Bukich, 85, dies". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved April 4, 2017.

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