|Born:||August 28, 1953|
Queens, New York
|NFL Draft:||1975 / Round: 6 / Pick: 135|
|Career NFL statistics|
Robert Hayden Avellini (born August 28, 1953) is a former National Football League quarterback. For most of his career, he played for the Chicago Bears before finishing with the New York Jets. His nickname was "Slow-Mo".
As a rookie with the Bears in 1975, Avellini started four games on a team that finished 4–10. He threw for 942 yards with 6 TD passes along with 11 interceptions.
Fully established as the Bears starter in 1976, he started all fourteen games, throwing for 1580 yards, although with a bad "td pass/int" ratio of 8/15. Chicago improved to a 7–7 mark. Avellini improved those numbers in 1977, passing for 2004 yards while once again starting every game for the Bears. His interception rate was rather high, throwing 18 picks compared to only 11 touchdown passes. The Bears showed improvement as they tied the Minnesota Vikings for the NFC Central title at 9–5 and earned a trip to the playoffs as the wildcard team, where they were handily beaten by the Dallas Cowboys. Walter Payton’s big season, he ran for over 1,800 yards rushing, had much to do with their success.
In 1978, the Bears struggled. They started 4-8 with Avellini under center, as he threw for 16 interceptions – while tossing 5 TD passes. This caused coach Neill Armstrong to make a switch at quarterback. He inserted veteran Mike Phipps into the starting role. Phipps, who the Bears had traded their first-round pick in the 1978 draft to acquire from Cleveland, promptly won three out of the final four games, to establish himself as the starter for the next season. The Bears surprisingly rolled to a 10-6 record in 1979, tying Tampa Bay for the division title, and Avellini was now in the backup. He continued in this capacity, playing behind Phipps, Vince Evans and Jim McMahon until the 1984 season, seeing little action on the field.
In 1984 – with the Bears starting 2–0 – Jim McMahon was injured and Mike Ditka inserted Avellini in as the starter for a road game against Green Bay. Avellini had only started five games since the end of the 1978 season. The Bears mustered little offense with Avellini at the controls, but still managed to edge the Packers 9–7. Chicago struggled the next week as they were soundly beaten by Seattle 38–9. This resulted in Avellini being cut from the Bear’s roster by Ditka thus ending his decade-long tenure with Chicago. Avellini later signed with the New York Jets where he ended his playing career after the 1984 season. The Bears, meanwhile, went to the NFC Championship game that season and won the Super Bowl the next season. Avellini made a brief comeback in 1986 with the Dallas Cowboys starting 3 preseason games but was released as the final cut.
In May 2009, Avellini was arrested for driving under the influence and acquitted for the third time. He had been convicted of the offense in 2002. In October 2013, a DuPage County grand jury indicted Avellini on felony drunken driving charges a week after his sixth DUI-related arrest since 2002. On November 19, 2014, Avellini was sentenced to 18 months in prison for his 3rd DUI. Avellini declared bankruptcy on February 27, 2012 listing debts of more than $2.2 million and assets of $1.3 million.
On November 20, 2014, Avellini was sentenced to 18 months in prison for aggravated DUI.
Avellini is actively involved in a number of Chicago area charitable organizations and despite his professional real estate career has been on the air at several Chicago radio and television sports shows.
- 1979 Chicago Bears
- 1984 Chicago Bears
- Avellini acquitted of DUI again, ESPN, May 6, 2009.
- Ward, Clifford (November 20, 2014). "Former Bears QB Avellini gets 18 months in prison for aggravated DUI: prosecutors". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved November 20, 2014.