Richie Petitbon leaves Chicago Bears, retirement, and coaching career
In his 10th season, Petitbon started every game and recorded two interceptions on the year. After the season, the veteran was a free agent and elected to join the Los Angeles Rams, where he spent two seasons as the team's starting safety. He finished his Rams career with eight total turnovers in 26 regular season games and even recorded an interception against the Minnesota Vikings in the 1969 Divisional round, although Los Angeles would lose 23-20.
Following his stint with the Rams, Petitbon joined the Washington Redskins ahead of the 1971 season. In his first year with the team, he earned the starting safety role and helped the team reach the playoffs after finishing the season with an impressive five interceptions and two fumble recoveries. Petitbon started in the post-season contest, but the team lost a close game to the San Francisco 49ers.
The next season, injuries kept Petitbon to just three appearances throughout the year. Following the season, Petitbon elected to retire from the NFL following a 14-year NFL career. With his first decade as a pro spent with the Chicago Bears, Petitbon finished his tenure in the Windy City with 38 interceptions, three of which were returned for touchdowns, and seven fumble recoveries in 137 games with the team, where he started in 133 contests.
His team interception total ranked first in franchise history at the time of his retirement, it has since been passed by Gary Fencik, but Petitbon's total is still strong enough for second in Chicago Bears history, ahead of notable defensive backs Charles Tillman and Donnell Woolford. He is also tied for fifth in franchise pick-sixes alongside Eddie Jackson and former teammate Rosey Taylor. Additionally, his eight-interception 1963 season is tied for fourth most by a Bear, behind only Mark Carrier, Tim Jennings, and Taylor himself.
Just six years after his final season, Petitbon elected to join the Washington Reskins, his last team, as an assistant coach. Under Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs, Petitbon spent his first three seasons as a secondary coach before becoming the defensive coordinator from 1981 to 1992.
As the conductor of the defense, Petitbon helped the franchise win three Super Bowls in fewer than 10 seasons. In 1993, Petitbon was elevated to head coach following Gibbs' retirement. He spent only one season in the position before retiring in 1994. After 15 years as a coach in the nation's capital, Petitbon's second career came to a close, and he stepped away from the game of football for good.
However, it was hard to keep the long-time pro away from the game completely, as he has received several awards for his football careers in New Orleans, Chicago, and Washington. For his play in high school and college, the Tulane star was selected to both the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame and the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame. His older brother, John Petitbon, who was a Notre Dame and New York Yanks star, is also in both groups.
The man who wore the number 17 in blue and navy for a decade was recently named the 41st-best player in franchise history by the Chicago Tribune, and was recently named to Washington's Ring of Honor as a coach.