Riki Ellison

Riki Morgan Ellison (born August 15, 1960) is a former U.S. college and professional linebacker, who played ten seasons in the National Football League (NFL), and went by the name Riki Gray while in college at USC as an All-Pac-10 player in 1982. He is the first New Zealander to play in the NFL.

Riki Ellison
refer to caption
Ellison in November 2007
No. 50
Personal information
Born:August 15, 1960 (age 58)
Christchurch, New Zealand
Height:6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight:220 lb (100 kg)
Career information
High school:Tucson (AZ) Amphitheater
NFL Draft:1983 / Round: 5 / Pick: 117
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Player stats at NFL.com

College career

Ellison was part of a USC Trojans team that went to two Rose Bowls and won a national championship. He graduated USC with a degree in International Relations with a graduate emphasis on Defense and Strategic Studies.

Professional career

The NFL San Francisco 49ers chose him with their fifth-round pick in the 1983 NFL Draft becoming the first ever New Zealander and Māori to play in Professional Football. Jerry Attaway, his conditioning coach at USC and (teammate) Ronnie Lott had convinced Bill Walsh to select him in the draft.

Ellison won three Super Bowls during his seven years with the 49ers.[1] He was drafted alongside a pair of future Pro Bowlers, running back Roger Craig and center/guard Jesse Sapolu. In his final season with the 49ers in 1989, he broke his right arm in the final preseason game and was placed on the injured reserve list for the season.[2] He played his final three seasons with the Los Angeles Raiders.

In 2017, Ellison was inducted into the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame.

Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance

In 2002, Ellison launched the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, a non-profit organization.[3]

Youth Impact Program

In 2005, Ellison founded the Youth Impact Program for disadvantaged and at-risk adolescent boys in US inner cities. It partners with universities, the U.S. Marine Corps, local NFL team, and public school teachers.[4] The U.S. Marine Corps also participates in YIP by providing students with leadership and character development skills training and mentoring.


Ellison is of Māori descent Ngai Tahu born in Christchurch New Zealand. At eight, Ellison moved to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with his father, Dan, who went on to become an economic advisor to the United Nations. Shortly thereafter, Ellison's parents divorced and he relocated with his mother to Los Angeles, where she remarried Dennis Gray and moved to Beaver Creek Ranch, Rimrock, Arizona. Ellison went to high school in Tucson, AZ.

The Ellison family comes from a strong sporting background, he is related to professional rugby players Tamati Ellison and Jacob Ellison who both played in Super Rugby. His grandfather Edward Ellison played on the 1911 NZ Maori team and was awarded the OBE from Great Britain for his work as a Doctor in the Pacific. Thomas Ellison, his great-uncle, played for the first New Zealand rugby team to play in Great Britain in 1888 and 1889, and captained the first New Zealand team to play in Australia in 1893.[5]

Ellison's son, Rhett, plays as a tight end for the NY Giants.


  1. ^ Farmer, Sam (October 8, 2000). "EX-49ERS RECALL MOVE TO RAIDERS LOOKING BACK ON CHANGING LOYALTIES". The San Jose Mercury News. p. 1D. Ellison 's views have softened on the 49ers, with whom he played from 1983 to '89 and earned three Super Bowl rings.
  2. ^ Dufrense, Chris (September 20, 1990). "He's Glad to Be an Ex-49er". Archived from the original on May 26, 2012.
  3. ^ "Board of Directors". Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
  4. ^ "Youth Impact Program". Retrieved 8 Feb 2017.
  5. ^ Anderson, Atholl (30 October 2012). "Ellison, Thomas Rangiwahia". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Te Ara —the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Archived from the original on 24 March 2013. Retrieved 24 February 2013.
1981 USC Trojans football team

The 1981 USC Trojans football team represented the University of Southern California (USC) in the 1981 NCAA Division I-A football season. In their sixth year under head coach John Robinson, the Trojans compiled a 9–3 record (5–2 against conference opponents), finished in a tie for second place in the Pacific-10 Conference (Pac-10), and outscored their opponents by a combined total of 284 to 170.Quarterback John Mazur led the team in passing, completing 93 of 194 passes for 1,128 yards with seven touchdowns and five interceptions. Marcus Allen led the team in rushing with 433 carries for 2,427 yards and 22 touchdowns. Jeff Simmons led the team in receiving yards with 28 catches for 543 yards and one touchdown. Allen became the first player in NCAA history to rush for over 2,000 yards in one season. He also gained a total of 2,683 offensive yards, led the nation in scoring, and won the Heisman Trophy, the Maxwell Award, and Walter Camp Award and was also the Pac-10 player of the year.

1983 San Francisco 49ers season

The 1983 San Francisco 49ers season was the team's 34th year with the National Football League. The team attempted to improve on its 3-6 record from 1982. The 49ers would start the season with a loss to the Philadelphia Eagles 22-17. However, the 49ers would continue to impress, as they throttled the Vikings the next week 48-17 and then the Cardinals the following week 42-27. They would end the first half of the season 6-2 before splitting their last eight games to finish the season 10-6 and clinching the NFC West. In the playoffs, the 49ers would come back to beat the Lions 24-23 after Joe Montana found Freddie Solomon in the end zone with 1:23 remaining. However, in the NFC Championship game, they were not able to outlast the top-seeded Redskins, as they lost 24-21 after Washington took the lead on a field goal.

1985 San Francisco 49ers season

The 1985 San Francisco 49ers season was the team's 36th year with the National Football League.

49ers running back Roger Craig became the first player in NFL history to record both 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards in the same season. Craig rushed for 1,050 yards, and had 1,016 receiving yards.This season was Jerry Rice's first season in the league.

1986 San Francisco 49ers season

The 1986 San Francisco 49ers season was the team's 37th year with the National Football League. The team returned to the top of the NFC West after a one-year absence, and lost the Divisional Playoffs to the Giants.

Joe Montana suffered a back injury in Week 1 and was lost for two months after surgery. Because the injury was so severe, doctors forced him to retire. However, Montana did return for Week 10 against the then-St. Louis Cardinals. Montana shared Comeback Player of the Year honors with Minnesota's Tommy Kramer at the end of the season.

1987 San Francisco 49ers season

The 1987 San Francisco 49ers season was the team's 38th year with the National Football League. The 49ers won the division for the second consecutive season, and ended the season as the top seed in the NFC playoffs. The season ended with an upset loss to the Minnesota Vikings in the divisional round of the playoffs.

1991 Los Angeles Raiders season

The 1991 Los Angeles Raiders season was their 32nd in the National Football League (NFL). They were unable to improve upon their previous season's output of 12–4, winning only nine games. After a 9–4 start, the team lost its last three games, but did qualify for the playoffs for the second straight season. The Raiders were inconsistent offensively, with struggling quarterback Jay Schroeder eventually benched in favor of rookie Todd Marinovich. It was notable that future Hall of Famer Marcus Allen's role was restricted mainly to backing up newly acquired Roger Craig, and future All-Pro Tim Brown also played mostly as a reserve, starting only one game. The loss of Bo Jackson to a career-ending injury also clearly had an impact. A solid defense was led by Howie Long, Greg Townsend (13 sacks) and Ronnie Lott (8 interceptions).

1992 Los Angeles Raiders season

The 1992 Los Angeles Raiders season was their 33rd in the National Football League (NFL). They were unable to improve upon their previous season's output of 9–7, winning only seven games. This was the first time in three seasons the team failed to qualify for the playoffs.

Amphitheater High School

Amphitheater High School, also known as Amphi High, is a public high school, located in central Tucson, Arizona, United States. Amphi is the flagship high school of Amphitheater Public Schools of Tucson, and serves grades 9–12. The school mascot is the panther, and the school colors are kelly green and white. Amphi opened in 1939 as the second high school in Tucson, and has a student enrollment of 1,249. In the 1983-84 school year, it was honored as a Blue Ribbon school.Its feeder schools are Amphi Middle and La Cima Middle.

David Dixon (American football)

David Tukatahi Dixon (born January 5, 1969) is a former American football guard who played eleven professional seasons in the National Football League and was the second Maori to play in professional football after Riki Ellison. He also earned a ring as part of the practice squad for the Dallas Cowboys, although never receiving the ring. Dixon attended Arizona State University after transferring from Ricks College in Idaho. He first played American football in college after being an active rugby player. He represented New Zealand in rugby at High School level in 1985. . His number on the Vikings was 71.

Dixon's daughter TeTori plays for the United States women's national volleyball team.

Ellesmere College, Leeston

Ellesmere College is a co-educational high school, located in Leeston in the Canterbury Region of New Zealand, with more than 500 students ranging from ages eleven to seventeen. It aims to provide students with a range of learning experiences, aiming to make its students good contributors to society. It encourages voluntary activities such as music lessons, drama, and sports.


Ellison is a Norwegian surname and given name. It may derive from "Son of Elias" in Norwegian.

Haka Bowl

The Haka Bowl was a proposed American college football game scheduled to be played in New Zealand in 1996.

Named for the traditional Māori haka, and promoted by NFL linebacker Riki Ellison (who was born in New Zealand), the Haka Bowl was planned to be the first post-season bowl game to be played outside the United States in half a century, since the Bacardi Bowl in Cuba in 1946. The game (which also would be the first NCAA football game played in the Southern Hemisphere), was to have been held at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand, matching up the third place teams from the then Pacific-10 Conference (now the Pac-12 Conference) and Western Athletic Conference (stopped playing football after the 2012-13 season). The payout for participating teams was set at $1.5 million, double the NCAA's standard minimum at that time, and the minimum payout set for an international game.However, the contest, scheduled for 27 December 1996, was never played: when the Haka Bowl committee could not come up with financial guarantees, the NCAA revoked the license for the game, and the idea died. It would be another decade, until the International Bowl was played in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on 6 January 2007, that a college football bowl game would be played outside the United States.

I Know What I Like

"I Know What I Like" is a song performed by Huey Lewis and the News and released as a single from the album Fore! in 1987. The single peaked at number nine on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. Like the earlier single, "Hip to Be Square", "I Know What I Like" featured background performances by then-San Francisco 49ers, Dwight Clark, Riki Ellison, Ronnie Lott, and Joe Montana.

Upon the release of the album in 1986, "I Know What I Like" peaked at number 25 on the Billboard Album Rock Tracks chart in September 1986. When released as a single in 1987, the track re-entered the chart but topped out this time at number 31.

The song is in major and uses the rare minor dominant (v) chord, lacking a leading-tone.

Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance

The Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance is a non-profit organization advocating the development and deployment of missile defense for the United States and its allies. Founded in 2002, by Riki Ellison, it promotes United States Government missile defense strategies and technologies. The organization is based in Alexandria, Virginia, just outside Washington D.C..

Māori Americans

Māori Americans are Americans of Māori descent, an ethnic group from New Zealand.

New Zealand American Football Federation

New Zealand American Football Federation, abbreviated NZAFF, is the recognised national body for American Football in New Zealand. Its website is www.nzaff.co.nz

Polynesian Football Hall of Fame

The Polynesian Football Hall of Fame is a hall of fame that honors the greatest players, coaches, and contributors of Polynesian descent in the sport of American football. It was established in 2013 by former National Football League (NFL) players Jesse Sapolu and Maa Tanuvasa. Board members include Troy Polamalu, Via Sikahema, June Jones, and Reno Mahe. The hall is located at the Polynesian Cultural Center in Oahu, Hawaii.

Rhett Ellison

Rhett Marshall Ellison (born October 3, 1988) is an American football fullback for the New York Giants of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at USC and was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL Draft.

Tim Ryan (American football, born 1967)

Timothy Edward Ryan (born September 8, 1967 in Memphis, Tennessee) is a former National Football League defensive tackle. He is currently a radio color analyst for the San Francisco 49ers, and previously an NFL analyst for Fox television and co-host of "Movin' the Chains" on Sirius XM NFL Radio.

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