Irving Fryar


Local legendary wide receiver for Patriots, Dolphins & Eagles

Rancocas Valley High School has turned out some great athletes and Irving Fryar was one of the very best. He starred in baseball where his play in centerfield attracted major league scouts, but he really excelled on the football field.

"There wasn't anything the kid couldn't do," said Bill Gordon, the school's football coach. "He could play any position beautifully. I should've let him play quarterback. Stupid me, I didn't."

Irving played both tight end and wide receiver and he was recruited by every major college in the country, but Hall of Fame coach Tom Osborne convinced him to come to Nebraska. He earned All-America honors playing on the same team with another local product: Camden's Mike Rozier, who won the Heisman Trophy as a running back.

The New England Patriots selected the 6-0, 200-pound Fryar with the first pick in the 1984 NFL draft. It was only the second time that a wide receiver was drafted No. 1 overall. The other was San Francisco's Dave Parks twenty years earlier.

In Fryar's second season, the Patriots made it all the way to the Super Bowl and Fryar scored their only touchdown in the lopsided loss to the Chicago Bears. The Patriots were a turbulent team in the 1980s with a dizzying series of changes in ownership and the front office that saw the franchise spiral down to the bottom of the AFC East.

In 1993, Miami coach Don Shula traded two high draft picks to the Patriots to acquire Fryar. It seemed like a steep price to pay for a nine-year veteran, but Shula was looking for a big-play receiver to work with quarterback Dan Marino and he saw Fryar as a perfect fit. As usual, Shula was right. Fryar made the Pro Bowl each of the next two seasons and in 1994 he set career highs with 73 receptions for 1,270 yards.

In 1996, the Mt. Holly, N.J., native signed a free agent contract with the Eagles. Coach Ray Rhodes was elated. "Irving has maintained the speed and toughness it takes to be a go-to receiver in this league," Rhodes said. "He's going to add a lot of stability and veteran leadership to our young group of wide receivers."

In his first season with the Eagles, Fryar set a club record with 88 receptions. He had 1,195 yards and 11 touchdowns, including four in one game against the Dolphins. The four touchdowns tied the Eagles single game record and made the 34-year-old Fryar the oldest player in NFL history to score four touchdowns in one game.

The next season, Fryar had 86 catches for a career high 1,316 yards and six touchdowns. He was selected to the Pro Bowl for the second year in a row. It was his way of answering those who felt his career was on the decline.

"I play every day with a chip on my shoulder," Fryar said. "When you ask somebody about good receivers–I don't even say great, I say good–they won't mention my name. When I was young (they said) I never reached my potential. Now (they say) I'm too old. I feel I have to prove myself every day I step out here."

In 1998, the Eagles skidded to a 3-13 finish and Fryar announced his decision to retire at the end of the season. His final home game at Veterans Stadium was December 27 and the Eagles honored him with a pre-game ceremony where he was presented with a red Harley Davidson motorcycle which he took for a quick spin around the field.

"When I left New England and went to Miami, my game elevated a little bit," Fryar said. "And when I came here, my game elevated a little more. That's what I'll remember most about my time here."

Washington owner Daniel Snyder talked Fryar into coming back for the 1999 season. He spent two seasons in Washington, finally retiring at age 38. He finished his career with 851 receptions for 12,785 yards and 84 touchdowns. He caught touchdown passes from 19 different quarterbacks, an NFL record.

Ray Didinger-Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame Inductee

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