Eldridge Dickey

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Eldridge Reno Dickey
Born 24 December 1945
Houston, Texas
Died 22 May 2000
Height 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight 198 pounds (90 kg)
Position(s) Wide Receiver
College Tennessee State University
AFL Draft 1968 / Round 1 / Pick 25
Career highlights
Honors American Football League Champion, 1968
Statistics
Teams
1968-1969
1970-1971
AFL Oakland Raiders
NFL Oakland Raiders

Eldridge Reno Dickey (24 December 1945 – 22 May 2000) was an American football player. After playing for Tennessee State University from 1965–1968, he was drafted in 1968 by the Oakland Raiders in the 1st round as the 25th overall pick. Dickey became the first African-American quarterback selected in the first round by an AFL or NFL team. Despite a strong performance during training camp, Dickey was moved to wide receiver for the start of the season. He was never able to play at quarterback in an AFL or NFL game.

Career[edit]

Eldridge Dickey began playing football at Richard G. Lockett Jr. High School and went on to play at Booker T. Washington High School, both in his hometown of Houston, Texas. A supremely intelligent man, Dickey had an IQ in the high 130s. In college at Tennessee State, he became a three-time HBCU All-American with 6,523 passing yards and 67 touchdowns. Dickey was considered a gifted athlete with his strongest positions being quarterback and punter. Similar to Michael Vick, Dickey was a strong running quarterback. He was also able to throw precision passes with both his left and right arm. With Dickey at the lead, TSU went to two bowl games in 1965 and 1966. Also in 1966, TSU earned their first undefeated, untied season and their first National Black College Football Championship. The 1966 team averaged 41 points per game, allowing an average of only 4.

In 1968 the Oakland Raiders made Dickey the first African-American quarterback to be drafted in the first round in professional football. The Raiders also selected University of Alabama quarterback Ken Stabler in the second round. Despite reports that Dickey outperformed Stabler at training camp, Dickey was moved to wide receiver for the start of the season. It is unknown if this decision was influenced by the predominant stereotype at the time that Blacks weren't intelligent enough to be capable leaders or if it was solely based on Dickey's athletic ability. This came as a blow to a player who at one time told his former coach, Joe Gilliam, that if he couldn't play quarterback he didn't want to play. But, Dickey accepted the position hoping for an opportunity to play his preferred position.

It is believed that this change affected Dickey's performance on the field. He made just one catch for 34 yards and 6 punt returns for 48 yards in 11 games in the 1968 season. He didn't play in another game until 1971 where he made 4 catches for 78 yards with 1 touchdown and was cut from the team 7 games into the season after dropping a pass against the Kansas City Chiefs that could have been a touchdown. In 1984 he signed for the Denver Gold of the United States Football League, but he never played for the team.

Dickey never overcame the hurt at not being able to play quarterback professionally. As with two other black quarterbacks of his time, Gilliam and Briscoe, the feeling that he never received a fair opportunity to play his desired position lead to drug abuse. Later in life he became a minister before dying on May 22, 2000 of a stroke. In 2005, he was honored as the quarterback of the All-Time HBCU football team.

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References[edit]

Married LaCanas Casselle in 1966