OMAHA, Neb. –
Former Syracuse University football standout and accomplished sports artist Jim Ridlon has been named the second recipient of the Tom Osborne Legacy Award by the Rotary Club of Omaha and the Greater Omaha Sports Committee.
The award is presented to an individual who has made significant contributions to college football's interior line or to the Outland Trophy, and demonstrates a record of leadership and citizenship beyond the playing field. Osborne, the legendary Nebraska coach, was the inaugural winner of the award that bears his name in 2014.
Ridlon, a professor in SU's College of Visual and Performing Arts at the time, was commissioned in 1988 to design and sculpt the Outland Trophy, which is annually awarded to the best interior lineman in college football, after the original award plaque was stolen off a hotel wall. Ridlon's other artistic works include ABC's Wide World of Sports
25th Anniversary collage, and a collage celebrating the first 100 years of Syracuse football. In 1989, he was named the U.S. Sports Academy's Sports Artist of the Year.
Ridlon lined up at halfback and defensive back at Syracuse from 1954-56, teaming with the great Jim Brown, and helped the Orange reach the 1957 Cotton Bowl. Ridlon went on to play eight years in the NFL for the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys, earning All-Pro honors at safety in 1964.
After his playing career, Ridlon returned to his alma mater as an assistant football coach, and earned a master's degree in sculpture before becoming a full-time SU faculty member. He taught painting, sculpture and design for 35 years before retiring in 2000. Ridlon also worked as an analyst on Syracuse football radio broadcasts for more than 20 years.
This past summer, the Syracuse football program dedicated the Ridlon-Kuczala Recruiting Lounge in the Iocolano-Petty Football Complex. Named in honor of Ridlon and Ferdie Kuczala, the area features the artistic works of both men, including the Outland Trophy.
Osborne will present Ridlon with his award at this year's Outland Trophy Dinner on Jan. 14 at the DoubleTree Hotel in downtown Omaha. For complete coverage of Syracuse and Syracuse football, follow us on Facebook (Syracuse Orange& Syracuse Football), Twitter (@Cuse & @CuseFootball), Instagram (@CuseFootball) and watch exclusive video content on Cuse TV.