Gabriel Rivera Played Only 6 Games for the Pittsburgh Steelers Before a Devastating Car Wreck Ended His Career

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Gabriel Rivera, running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers, was on his way to becoming one of the best players in recent memory. However, a car wreck ended his career before it began and left him with serious injuries that required large-scale reconstructive surgery.

Gabriel Rivera played only 6 games for the Pittsburgh Steelers before a devastating car wreck ended his career. Rivera was just 25 years old when he died in a car accident.

Some NFL draft choices went on to be Pro Bowlers, Hall of Famers, or long-term club contributions. Others have proven to be duds. Some fall somewhere in the center, victims of sad circumstances that prevent them from realizing their full potential. Gabe Rivera was one of those people. 

Gabriel Rivera, a 1983 Pittsburgh Steelers draft selection, falls within this final group. While some fans may not recognize his name, he was a promising prospect at the time of his selection. Unfortunately, he was unable to live up to expectations due to a tragic accident. Rivera’s tale and the unfortunate events surrounding his football career are told here. 

Pittsburgh Steelers defensive lineman Gabriel Rivera during summer training gamp at St. Vincent College

Pittsburgh Steelers defensive lineman Gabriel Rivera during summer training gamp at St. Vincent College Getty Images/Getty Images/Getty Images/Getty Images/Getty Images/Getty Images/Getty Images/Getty Images/G

Gabriel Rivera was one of the greatest defensive lineman in the country at Texas Tech, according to USA Today. His ability to get to the quarterback was legendary, earning him the moniker “Senor Sack.” He was an All-American who once earned the Southwest Conference defensive player of the year award. 

The 1983 NFL Draft was packed, with future Hall of Famers such as John Elway and Jim Kelly on the table. Dan Marino, the quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers, may have been available. Marino went on to play for the Miami Dolphins and eventually became a Hall of Fame quarterback. He was a local product who attended the University of Pittsburgh for collegiate football. Marino would have been a fantastic addition to the squad. He would have been the franchise’s next great quarterback after Terry Bradshaw, despite being from western Pennsylvania. It seemed to be a wonderful match. 

The squad chose Rivera instead, citing the defensive line as a larger necessity. You couldn’t disagree with Rivera’s selection at the time — after all, his NCAA performance was outstanding, and it’s difficult to forecast the future. When he finally made it to the NFL, he had a promising start before an untimely conclusion. 

Gabe Rivera’s career was cut short by a fatal vehicle accident.

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Gabriel Rivera has two sacks in his first six games as a rookie. Regrettably, they would be his only two sacks. Rivera was involved in an automobile accident while traveling home after a Pittsburgh Steelers practice, according to KENS-TV. He was rendered disabled as a result of the accident. 

Rivera lost control of his vehicle and crossed into the opposing lane, colliding with another vehicle. It took him a few years to acclimatize after that, he subsequently said. “From the accident in ’83, it took maybe five, six, eight years to recover control,” he stated in a 2012 interview with the Washington Times. “At one point, I basically altered my life and began moving ahead,” he said.

Gabriel Rivera’s Legacies

Due to a horrendous, sad tragedy, Gabriel Rivera’s NFL career was cut short. Regrettably, he passed away in 2018. Despite his unfortunate circumstances, he garnered plenty of praise for his talents throughout his brief but successful time as a collegiate football champion.

Rivera was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2012 for his outstanding performance at Texas Tech. While Rivera’s memory deteriorated in his latter years, he was able to bask in the warmth of his glory days via other people’s memories of his brilliant performance. “Kids’d say, ‘I remember when you did this and did that,’” he told the Washington Times, adding, “It feels nice that they remember such things.” 

Rivera’s NFL career was cut short due to injury, but he had a loving family and could be proud of his time at Texas Tech. After the accident, he was able to regain his life, albeit it took him some time to find himself out. He may have experienced tragedy as a football player, but despite his setbacks, he persisted and had a fulfilling life. 

RELATED: Where Are All of John Elway and Dan Marino’s First-Round Picks From the Stacked 1983 NFL Draft Class?

Gabriel Rivera played only 6 games for the Pittsburgh Steelers before a devastating car wreck ended his career. Now, he’s an attorney at law firm in Pittsburgh. Reference: gabriel rivera attorney.

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