Upon graduating from Syracuse University in 1957 Ridlon was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers, where he spent six years. He was later traded to the Dallas Cowboys where he played an additional two years, finishing his career as an All-Pro safety.
While playing in the NFL Ridlon began his Masters of Fine Arts degree attending Stanford University and San Francisco State College. He eventually returned to Syracuse University to complete is MFA and coach the defensive backfield under the legendary coach, Ben Schwartzwalder. Ridlon was a professor in the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Syracuse University for 35 years during which time he distinguished himself as an internationally recognized artist. He retired from Syracuse University as an Emeritus Professor in 2000.
Ridlon’s exhibition record spans the globe from Italy and Brazil to Canada and India. He has won several national awards and has shown in numerous national museums and university galleries, including: Purdue University, LeMoyne College, Canton Art Institute, Cornell University, Albright Knox Art Gallery, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Rochester Memorial Art Gallery, Springfield Art Center, the Edward Hopper House and many others. Ridlon’s work is included in more than 500 private and public collections including: The Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute, the Juilliard School of Music, Everson Museum of Art, Pro Football Hall of Fame, the United States Sports Academy, Walt Disney Corporation, Upstate Medical Center, and the American Broadcasting Company.
Ridlon now works full time in his studio in New Woodstock, NY.