KENS5’s David Flores reported last night at 9:25 that Texas Tech Hall of Famer and College Football Hall of Famer Gabe Rivera passed away due to complications from having a perforated colon and bowel and having no stomach muscles. Without a doubt, one of the best that ever was and I’m incredibly happy for Rivera that he was inducted into both Hall of Fames while he was alive and could soak in that experience.
Rivera was absolutely dominant as a collegiate for Texas Tech:
“He was nearly freakish,” said Rodney Allison, an assistant coach at Texas Tech during the final two seasons of Rivera’s college career. “There weren’t a lot of guys his size, with his speed and athletic ability in those days. You’d find one every now and then, but you didn’t find one with that combination of strength, speed, power and agility. You just don’t have those things at that level. That player was nearly non-existent in that time.”
Players of Rivera’s larger-than-life status are still few and far between. Transcendent players have a way of not being defined by the eras in which they played. Few defensive tackles in college football history have had the ability to operate on such a dominant level. It’s why he’s receiving an honor even fewer have. Rivera on Saturday will become just the fourth player in Texas Tech history to be etched on the school’s Ring of Honor, joining Donny Anderson, E.J. Holub and Dave Parks.
“It’s very exciting to be up there with those guys,” Rivera said. “This is a great honor. Lubbock is my second home and all the fans there are great, so it’s exciting.”
And was eventually inducted to the College Football Hall of Fame:
“The National Football Foundation has recognized one of the greatest Texas Tech players to wear the Double T in Gabe Rivera,” Texas Tech Director of Athletics Kirby Hocutt noted. “His impact on our football program was tremendous and his legacy at Texas Tech will be forever. We are grateful that his career has been recognized at the national level with induction into college football’s most exclusive fraternity.”
Rivera dominated the Southwest Conference during his four-year career that spanned from 1979-1982. One of the most feared defensive linemen in college football, Rivera compiled 321 career tackles, 34 tackles for loss, 14 sacks, 11 pass deflections and six fumble recoveries. He garnered consensus First-Team All-America honors his senior season in 1982 while also being named an Honorable-Mention All-American as a sophomore in 1980. In 1993, Rivera was inducted into the Texas Tech Hall of Honor and then to the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 2007.
Condolences to Rivera’s family. Rest in peace.