Gary Mullen (American football)

Gary Mullen
No. 30, 1
Position: Wide receiver / Defensive back
Personal information
Date of birth: (1963-02-01) February 1, 1963
Place of birth: McKeesport, Pennsylvania
Height: 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Weight: 174 lb (79 kg)
Career information
High school: Clairton (PA)
College: West Virginia
Undrafted: 1985
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Games played: 3
Receptions: 2
Receiving yards: 33
Player stats at
Career Arena statistics
Receptions: 254
Receiving yards: 4,014
Receiving TDs: 74
Tackles: 123
Interceptions: 7
Player stats at PFR
Player stats at

Gary Mullen (born February 1, 1963) is a former professional American football and Arena football player who played wide receiver and defensive back for eight seasons for the Denver Dynamite, Chicago Bears, Los Angeles Cobras, Detroit Drive, Cincinnati Rockers and the Milwaukee Mustangs. He was elected into the Arena Football Hall of Fame in 1998.

Early life

Mullen attended Clairton High School in Clairton, Pennsylvania.[1] While at Clairton, Mullen was a standout member of the football and basketball teams.[2] Playing under the guidance of Head Coach Pat Risha, Mullen served as the quarterback and a defensive back for the Bears' football team.[2] As a senior in 1980, Mullen lead the team to the WPIAL Class A football championship game, with a 29-8 victory over Shenango High School,[3] but the Bears would lose in the championship game to Laurel High School.[2][4] After the team's title run, Mullen was named The Pittsburgh Press Class A Player of the Year.[5] As a senior on the basketball team, Mullen help lead the Bears to a runner up finish in the WPIAL Championship game.[6] Mullen was recruited by West Virginia and Minnesota for football, and chose West Virginia because he stated, "it wasn't too far from home and the program was rebuilding."[5]

College career

Mullen attended West Virginia University after high school, where was a member of the Mountaineers football team from 1981 to 1984.[1] After his freshman season, Mullen considered a transfer, but decided to stick it out after speaking with Risha.[5] Mullen spent two years as a reserve wide receiver for the Mountaineers, but he continued to work hard to earn more playing time.[7] Mullen earned playing time in 11 games during the 1983 season, amassing 19 receptions for 343 yards and three touchdowns. Mullen was also utilized as a kickoff returner, returning 12 kicks for 237 yards.[8] Mullen's senior year at West Virginia was his most productive statistically, as he caught 31 passes for 557 yards and three touchdowns. In total, Mullen amassed 80 receptions for 1,332 yards and six touchdowns during his collegiate career.[8] Gary was also part of three Mountaineer bowl game victories: the Peach Bowl in 1981, the Hall of Fame Classic Bowl in 1983, and the Bluebonnet Bowl in 1984.

Professional career

After not hearing his name called during the 1985 NFL Draft, Mullen was signed by the Detroit Lions,[9] but was released before the season began.[10] In the summer of 1986, Mullen signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers,[11] but he was unable to shake a bad case of the flu; Mullen left the Steelers by his own will.[10] Mullen made one final attempt to continue his football career, when he attended a tryout for the upstart Arena Football League.[10] Going into the tryout, Mullen wanted to join the Pittsburgh Gladiators, as they were close to where he grew up.[12]

Denver Dynamite

Just one day before Mullen was ready to quit on his football dream and join the U.S. Army, he received a phone call inviting him to try out to play for the Dever Dynamite of the Arena Football League.[1] Mullen became a focal point for the Dynamite offense, but with the Arena Football League then making players play both ways, he was also a key player on defense. Mullen didn't take the lack of a defensive background as an excuse to not play hard on defense.[13] Mullen had an outstanding season for the Dynamite, leading the team in receptions (26), receiving yards (502) and receiving touchdowns (11).[14] The Dynamite tied for the best record in the AFL, which earned them a spot in ArenaBowl I. Mullen won ArenaBowl I MVP during his team's 45–16 victory over the Pittsburgh Gladiators.[15]

Chicago Bears

Mullen's play during the 1987 season earned him a chance to play for the Chicago Bears during the 1987 NFL strike. He played in all three games that the strike lasted, making two career receptions for 33 yards.[16]

Los Angeles Cobras

After the Dynamite suspended operations during the 1988 season, Mullen went to play for the expansion Los Angeles Cobras as they owned the rights to all Dynamite players.[15] Mullen's one year of experience was heavily leaned on by the Cobras, and Mullen enjoyed being the main target for the Cobras.[17] Mullen lead the Cobras with 61 receptions for 823-yards and 17 touchdowns.[16] The Cobras finished in 4th place, which was good enough to earn them the 4th seed in the playoffs. They were matched against the 1 seed, Chicago Bruisers, with a chance to make it to ArenaBowl II.[18] The Cobras lost 16-29, while Mullen paced the offense with 7 receptions for 78-yards and 1 touchdown.[18] After the season ended, the Cobras, as well as other teams, folded and the league playing again in 1989 looked in doubt. When they league announced that they would be playing in May, Mullen said that he would not play in 1989 due to all the pay cuts he would be receiving.[19]

Detroit Drive

After sitting out the 1989 regular season to get himself more established at his full-time job,[20] Mullen signed with the Detroit Drive during their playoff run. The Drive won ArenaBowl III. Mullen returned to the Drive in 1991, and teamed with fellow WR/DB George LaFrance and QB Art Schlichter, the Drive's offense stood as one of the most challenging to defend.[21] He helped the Drive to a three-peat with a 37-yard touchdown reception, when the Drive defeated the Dallas Texans 51-27 in ArenaBowl IV.[22] In 1992, the Drive were again on their way to the ArenaBowl, this time they faced the Orlando Predators.[23]

Cincinnati Rockers

Mullen was acquired by the Cincinnati Rockers for future considerations in 1993.[24]

Milwaukee Mustangs

When the Milwaukee Mustangs were formed in 1994, Mullen was selected in their expansion draft. Mullen signed a contract with the Mustangs a few days later.[25]


Both of Gary's brothers played professional football. His younger brother Keith Mullen, played arena football in 1991 with the Columbus Thunderbolts,[26] while his older brother Davlin Mullen played for the New York Jets.


  1. 1 2 3 Michael Emery (July 2, 1987). "Arena Football kept Gary Mullen out of the service". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved January 28, 2013.
  2. 1 2 3 Paul Dangelo (November 27, 1980). "Late-arrival Mullen spurs Clairton basketball victory". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved February 13, 2013.
  3. Dave Herbst (November 15, 1980). "Clairton Defense With Punch. Knocks Out Shenango, 29-8". The Pittsburgh Press. Retrieved February 14, 2013.
  4. Mike Siberini (November 20, 1980). "Bears meet Laurel for Class A crown". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved February 14, 2013.
  5. 1 2 3 Gerry Dulac (October 7, 1982). "Mullen A Study In Contrasts". The Pittsburgh Press. Retrieved February 14, 2013.
  6. "Clairton razes Kane". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. March 21, 1981. Retrieved February 15, 2013.
  7. Jim Lachimia (July 21, 1983). "Sweeney, Mullen have few lazy, summer days". Retrieved February 13, 2013.
  8. 1 2 DeVault, Mark. "Gary Mullen". West Virginia University Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. Retrieved April 21, 2013.
  9. "Transactions". St. Joseph Gazette. August 14, 1985. Retrieved February 15, 2013.
  10. 1 2 3 Gary Tuma (May 14, 1987). "One more time". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved February 13, 2013.
  11. "Sports news in brief". The Vindicator. May 22, 1986. Retrieved February 15, 2013.
  12. Merlisa Lawrence (July 27, 1990). "Mullen's payback hits home". The Pittsburgh Press. Retrieved February 19, 2013.
  13. Gerry Dulac (July 17, 1987). "Mullen comes home to settle score with the Gladiators". The Pittsburgh Press. Retrieved February 13, 2013.
  14. "1987 Denver Dynamite Team History". ArenaFan. Retrieved January 28, 2013.
  15. 1 2 Gary Tuma (March 10, 1988). "Gary Mullen set to play Arena Football again, but doesn't know where". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved January 28, 2013.
  16. 1 2 Joey Bunch (October 22, 2012). "Denver Dynamite exploded in Arena League's first season, then fizzled out". The Denver Post. Retrieved January 23, 2013.
  17. Kelly Carter (May 17, 1988). "Mullen displays his ture colors in Arena Football". The Pittsburgh Press. Retrieved February 13, 2013.
  18. 1 2 Lonnie White (July 24, 1988). "Cobras Fall One Short of Arena Football Final : Chicago Bruisers Knock Los Angeles Out of Playoffs With a 29-16 Victory". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 1, 2013.
  19. "Clairton's Gary Mullen says no to Arena Football". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. June 22, 1989. Retrieved February 13, 2013.
  20. Paul Jayes (June 21, 1990). "Mullen takes his summer vacation in Arena Football". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved February 13, 2013.
  21. Tom Boggie (June 15, 1991). "Schlichter-led Drive poses challenge to Firebirds' defense". The Daily Gazette. Retrieved February 15, 2013.
  22. "Schlichter drives Detroit to another Arena football title". The Argus-Press. August 13, 1990. Retrieved February 15, 2013.
  23. Arthur R. Brown Jr. (August 22, 1992). "Predators strive for win over Drive in ArenaBowl tonight". Lakeland Ledger. Retrieved February 15, 2013.
  24. "Transactions". New York Times. June 11, 1993. Retrieved February 15, 2013.
  25. "Mustangs sign Mullen". The Milwaukee Sentinel. February 3, 1995. Retrieved February 13, 2013.
  26. Joe Bendel (July 17, 1991). "Clairton brothers brace for 'Arena' showdown". The Pittsburgh Press. Retrieved February 14, 2013.
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