Former BYU football star and Dallas Cowboys receiver Golden Richards has died at the age of 73

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Golden Richards (83) being helped off the field after being injured in the NFC championship game against the Los Angeles Rams, in Los Angeles on Jan. 4, 1976.

Former BYU and Dallas Cowboys receiver Golden Richards, one of the most gifted — and troubled — athletes the state of Utah has ever produced, died early Friday morning in his Murray home of congestive heart failure after a long battle with multiple health and prescription drug abuse issues that plagued his later years.

He was 73.

“Seven or eight years of wear and tear on the football field for a 175-pound wide receiver who was concussed several times, too. That obviously took its toll.” — Doug Richards, brother of former BYU and NFL star Golden Richards

“He has left us and gone to a better place,” confirmed his brother, Doug Richards, a former BYU basketball star. “He fought pretty good there to the end, until it was his time.”

Doug Richards said his brother fell and broke his hip on Christmas Day in 2022, and has had four hip surgeries since then, all of which contributed to his declining health.

His mental capacities had also been deteriorating rapidly, Doug said.

“Seven or eight years of wear and tear on the football field for a 175-pound wide receiver who was concussed several times, too,” Doug said. “That obviously took its toll.”

Golden Richards graduated from Salt Lake City’s Granite High and received all-state honors in football, basketball and track before signing to play football for BYU.

He chose the No. 22 in honor of his boyhood hero, former Cowboys receiver Bob Hayes, and then ended up playing for the Cowboys from 1973-78.

Richards caught a 29-yard touchdown pass in the 1978 Super Bowl that helped the Cowboys down the Denver Broncos 27-10.

At BYU, he was known for being the fastest player on the team and caught 36 passes for 513 yards and a touchdown as a sophomore.

As a junior, he led BYU in receiving and also had 33 punt returns for 624 yards (17.9 average). He was first in the nation in punt return yards and 16th in all-purpose yards and earned All-WAC honors.

Richards transferred to Hawaii for his senior season and caught 23 passes for 414 yards and five touchdowns before suffering a knee injury that would hamper him throughout his pro career.

His best year for the Cowboys came in 1974, when he had 26 catches for 467 yards and five touchdowns.

He finished his pro career playing for the Chicago Bears in 1978-79 and the Broncos in 1980.

Known for his long, blond hair and movie star looks, Richards dabbled in television upon retirement and was part of the “ESPN Outdoors” television show.

Shortly after retiring, Richards began a long and painful journey of alcoholism and drug addiction that led to a plethora of legal issues, but he never shied away from his problems and eventually became sober for the last decade of his life, his brother said.

He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2011.


“It was well-documented that he had difficulties with opioids and pain pills they gave him playing football,” Doug Richards said.

“In the NFL, they handed them out like aspirin.”

Divorced three times, Golden Richards is survived by two adult sons, Goldie Jr. and Jordan, and a 2-year-old grandson, Jett.

“We were very close, so I am very sad,” Doug said. “He battled (prescription drug addiction) and finally got off those years ago, but it was a tough deal. Through it all he was a devoted father and a wonderful, great brother.

“He had a great heart, a tender heart, and was just a really great guy, and obviously a great football player.”

Funeral arrangements are pending.