Ex-USC Quarterback Rudy Bukich, 1953 Rose Bowl MVP, Dies

    Rudy Bukich
    March 1, 2016

    Former USC and NFL quarterback Rudy Bukich, the 1953 Rose Bowl Player of the Game who then played on an NFL championship team, died Monday (Feb. 29) in Del Mar, Calif., of natural causes brought on by accelerated dementia. He was 85.

    Bukich lettered at quarterback for the Trojans in 1951 and 1952, but served primarily as a backup. He transferred to USC from Iowa after prepping at Roosevelt High in St. Louis, Mo.

    He was named the Player of the Game in the 1953 Rose Bowl after he came off the bench and threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Al Carmichael for the only points in USC’s 7-0 victory over Wisconsin. It was the Pacific Coast Conference’s only Rose Bowl victory over the Big Ten from 1946 through 1959. USC went 10-1 in that 1952 season and was fifth in the final AP poll. He was inducted into the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame in 2004.

    Bukich was a second round pick in the 1953 NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Rams and he spent 14 years in the NFL with the Rams (1953, 1956), Washington Redskins (1957-58), Chicago Bears (1958-59, 1962-68) and Pittsburgh Steelers (1960-61). He was a member of the Bears’ 1963 NFL championship team. In his career, he threw 61 TDs and completed 626 passes. He was the NFL’s second leading passer in 1965 when he earned All-Pro honors. He tied an NFL record in 1964 by completing 13 consecutive passes. He spent the 1954 and 1955 seasons in the Army.

    Nicknamed “Rifle Rudy” because of his arm strength, he was able to throw a football 100 yards.

    He was a real estate developer after his football career.

    He is survived by his wife, Patricia, as well as 6 children, 9 grandchildren and a great granddaughter. His son, Steve, played quarterback at UCLA.

    Funeral services will be held at the Mira Mar National Cemetery in San Diego (5795 Nobel Dr., San Diego 92122) on March 9 at 2 p.m.