Tripti Joshi (Editor)

Ralph Coleman (American football)

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Height:  6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)
Weight  98 kg
Role  American football player

Name  Ralph Coleman
High school:  Carver (SC)
Positions  Linebacker
Date of birth:  (1950-08-31) August 31, 1950 (age 65)
Place of birth:  Spartanburg, South Carolina
NFL draft:  1972 / Round: 8 / Pick: 208
College  North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University

Ralph Donnell Coleman (born August 31, 1950) is a former professional American football linebacker in the National Football League, who played for the Dallas Cowboys. He played college football for North Carolina A&T University.


Early years

Coleman attended Carver High School, where he was a part of the last graduating class, before the school merged with Spartanburg High School. He was a three-sport athlete (football, basketball and track). In 1967, as a two-way player (linebacker and offensive tackle), he helped his football team win a state championship.

He accepted a scholarship from North Carolina A&T University to play defensive tackle. He was converted to linebacker and became a four-year starter.

Dallas Cowboys

Coleman was selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the eighth round (208th overall) of the 1972 NFL draft. The Cowboys saw great potential and he became the first African-American linebacker to make the team in franchise history.

He started the year in the taxi squad, before being promoted to the active roster after Chuck Howley was injured. He played mainly on special teams, including the playoffs.

After not agreeing with his playing time and contract numbers, he forced the team to trade him to the Houston Oilers in exchange for a conditional draft pick (not exercised) on July 13, 1973.

Houston Oilers

Coleman was waived by the Houston Oilers before the start of the 1973 season.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

On March 23, 1976, he was signed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a free agent. He was released on July 12.

Personal life

Coleman is serving a life sentence for murder in a South Carolina state prison. He was a suspect in several other homicides in the upstate but not charged. In 1993, he appeared in the film "Hard Choices: Inside Looking Out", that presents the story of two teenagers (fictional) confronted by the temptation of drug use, who are advised by two former professional athletes (Coleman and Alex English).


Ralph Coleman (American football) Wikipedia