Gabe Rivera was maybe the greatest defensive lineman to play at Texas Tech. He was an All-American in 1982 and was drafted by the Steelers in the first round in 1983.
He has trouble recalling his playing days. A car crash in his rookie season left him in a wheelchair and robbed him of some of his memory. The congratulations that came after he was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame helped bring back some memories.
“When people started congratulating me, they’d say ‘I remember when you did this and did that.’ It feels good that they remember those things,” Rivera said Tuesday.
He was part of a class of 14 players and three coaches inducted into the hall Tuesday night in Manhattan.
Heisman Trophy winner Ty Detmer and former Miami coach Jimmy Johnson were among the inductees.
“At this point in your life, you’ve been removed from football long enough now that you really appreciate those times you had and you kind of take a step back and reflect on all that and all the friends and teammates and coaches you were able to play with,” said Detmer, who won the Heisman at Brigham Young in 1990.
Also inducted are Louisiana State tailback Charles Alexander, Purdue halfback Otis Armstrong, California quarterback Steve Bartkowski, Southern California split end Hal Bedsole, Notre Dame tight end Dave Casper, Rice quarterback Tommy Kramer, Syracuse receiver Art Monk, Colorado State defensive back Greg Myers, UCLA offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden, Kansas State linebacker Mark Simoneau, Air Force safety Scott Thomas and Colorado guard John Wooten, and coaches Phillip Fulmer, who won the BCS title in 1998 with Tennessee, and R.C. Slocum, who led Texas A&M from 1989-2002.