Ronnie Lott Biography

Ronnie Lott is widely considered one of the best defensive backs in NFL history, not only for his talent, but for the ferocity he brought to the field. Read the story about his cutting off his pinky finger to play football (see below).

After college, Lott was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers with the eighth overall pick in the 1981 NFL Draft. He wasted no time becoming one of the best players on the team, as well as the NFL, as he picked off seven passes his rookie year, three for touchdowns, and led the 49ers to a victory in Super Bowl XVI. He finished second to New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor for Rookie of the Year.

In his 10 years with the 49ers, Lott won eight division titles and four Super Bowls: XVI (1981 season), XIX (1984), XXIII (1988), and XXIV (1989). He is one of five players to play for the 49ers on all four of their Super Bowl wins during the 1980s. He played Strong Safety, Weak Safety and Cornerback. But, his best years were played at Cornerback. He was amazing and broke new ground in providing run tackle support as a DB.

After his career with San Francisco, Lott signed as a free agent in 1991 with the Los Angeles Raiders, and in 1993 with the New York Jets. In 1991, he led the league in interceptions (8) for a second time.

Ronnie Lott
Thanks to JD Lasica from for this great picture of Former SF 49er Ronnie Lott.

A 1986 injury sidelined him for the season's last two games, but he still led the league with a career-best 10 interceptions, while recording 77 tackles, three forced fumbles, and two quarterback sacks.

He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000, his first year of eligibility, and was also named to the NFL's 75th Anniversary Team.

He was also named All-Pro eight times, All-NFC six times, and All-AFC once. Beyond statistics, Lott had an uncanny awareness of how a play was developing, which allowed him to break up passes and earn a reputation as one of the hardest and most efficient open-field tacklers in the history of the league.

One of the more incredible stories in NFL lore involved Lott amputating his pinky finger so he could keep playing in 1985. During a game against Dallas, Lott tried to tackle Timmy Newsome but got his finger caught and crushed against Newsome’s helmet. The legend is that Lott cut the finger off during the game, so he could keep playing, but the reality is after consulting with doctors he was told that the finger would not heal properly unless he missed the playoffs. Lott decided to have one third of the finger amputated rather than miss the post season.

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