|Born:||May 20, 1951|
Fort Sill, Oklahoma
|Died:||October 13, 2009 (aged 58)|
Colorado Springs, Colorado
|NFL draft||1973 / Round: 2 / Pick: 31|
|1973-1982||Los Angeles Rams|
|1987||Los Angeles Rams|
William Cullen Bryant (May 20, 1951 - October 13, 2009) was a professional American football player who spent thirteen seasons in the National Football League (NFL) as a running back and return specialist for the Los Angeles Rams and Seattle Seahawks. He played college football at Colorado.
Bryant was born in Fort Sill, Oklahoma. His father, who was a fan of poetry, named him after the poet William Cullen Bryant. He graduated as part of the first class to spend all three years at William (Billy) Mitchell High School in Colorado Springs, Colorado in 1969.
A three-year letterman (1970–1972) who played for Eddie Crowder at the University of Colorado, Bryant, who wore uniform number 16, starred at defensive back. During his junior and senior years, the Buffaloes were nationally ranked in the Associated Press (AP) Poll, finishing 3rd and 16th in 1971 and 1972 respectively. He played in the Senior Bowl and College All-Star Game in 1973.
He was selected by the Rams in the second round (31st overall) of the 1973 NFL Draft. He was the primary return specialist in his first four years with the team, working exclusively on kickoffs as a rookie. He scored his first NFL touchdown on September 30, 1973 when he returned a first-quarter kickoff 93 yards in a 40–20 victory over the 49ers in San Francisco.
At the behest of Rams owner Carroll Rosenbloom, Bryant went to court in 1975 to challenge his transfer to the Detroit Lions under the Pete Rozelle Rule. This came after Rozelle ordered Bryant off the Rams and sent to Detroit as compensation for the Rams signing free agent wide receiver Ron Jessie. After the judge appeared sympathetic to Bryant's case, the NFL backed off and the Rozelle Rule was subsequently modified.