|Born||George Davis Peter Gent
August 23, 1942
|Died||November 30, 2011(aged 69)|
|Notable works||North Dallas Forty|
George Davis Peter Gent (August 23, 1942 – September 30, 2011) was a Michigan State University basketball player and National Football League wide receiver turned novelist. He authored the best-seller North Dallas Forty.
At Bangor High School (Michigan), Gent was a standout four-sport athlete (football, basketball, baseball and track). In basketball he led the Bangor Vikings team to the 1960 state Class C Championship, while accumulating a 22.6 scoring average. The team was known as the Cardiac Kids for their late-game wins in District, Regional, Quarter-Final and Semi-Final games. The final game against top-ranked Grand Rapids Lee was no exception: it was tied 41–41 after three quarters and Bangor went on to win 57–45. Gent led the team with 21 points, and was named to the All-Tourney Team which was chosen from schools of all sizes throughout the state.
The Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan, in association with the Detroit Free Press, has sponsored since the spring of 1981, the Hal Schram Mr. Basketball award, given to the state’s top prep senior. Gent was awarded the “Retro" Mr. Basketball award, given to state players previous to 1981, who would have been named Mr. Basketball if there had been such an award at the time.
College sports career
Gent was a center/forward with the Michigan State University basketball team from 1962 to 1964. He became the first player in school history to lead the basketball team in scoring three consecutive seasons. In his senior year, he averaged 21 points per game. He left school ranked as MSU's second career scorer, with a total of 1,146 points. He averaged 17.4 points per game for his college career, he was third team All-Big Ten in 1963 and second team All-Big Ten in 1964.
In 1964 he was awarded the Big Ten Conference Medal of Honor, which is given annually to a male and female athlete at each of the Big Ten institutions, who demonstrates the greatest proficiency in scholarship and athletics. Gent graduated from Michigan State University with a BA in advertising.
Gent was the recipient of the 2005 Distinguished Alumnus Award.
Professional football career
|Wide receiver / Tight end|
|Date of birth:August 23, 1942|
|Place of birth: Bangor, Michigan|
|Date of death: September 30, 2011(aged 69)|
|Place of death: Bangor, Michigan|
|High school: Bangor (MI)|
|College: Michigan State|
|Undrafted in 1964|
|Debuted in 1964 for the Dallas Cowboys|
|Last played in 1968 for the Dallas Cowboys|
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
|Stats at pro-football-reference.com|
Although Gent never played a down of college football, the Dallas Cowboys were impressed by his athleticism and offered him a try out. He went to the Cowboys training camp in the summer of 1964, to receive the $500 they were paying to players who attended.
As with Cornell Green whom the team had converted two years earlier, he was first tried at defensive back, but at 6–4 and 210 pounds, he was not agile enough to play in the secondary. The coaches decided that Gent’s best chance was at wide receiver, where he wound up making the team and turning down a contract offer with the Baltimore Bullets, who had drafted him in the 14th round of the 1964 NBA Draft.
He became a valuable wide receiver by his second year in 1965, while splitting time with Buddy Dial and playing opposite Bob Hayes. In 1965, Gent caught 16 passes for 233 yards and two touchdowns. In 1966, he had 27 receptions for 474 yards (averaging 17.6 yard per catch) and one touchdown. In 1967 with the arrival of Lance Rentzel and health problems, he was moved to tight end.
Gent's career was marred by injury, as he underwent knee operations and endured constant back problems. He was known for his intelligence, soft hands and size. He caught passes mostly from quarterback Don Meredith, with whom he enjoyed a close friendship off the field.
New York Giants
After leaving professional football, Gent wrote several novels dealing with the sport. His first and most famous book, a semi-autobiographical novel entitled North Dallas Forty, was published in 1973. Its main characters, a quarterback and a wide receiver, are widely considered to be based on Don Meredith and Gent, respectively. The novel was one of the first to examine the NFL's hypocrisy regarding drug use.
North Dallas Forty was made into a movie of the same name in 1979 starring Nick Nolte, Mac Davis, G.D. Spradlin, and Dayle Haddon. Gent wrote the screenplay for the film. During the making of the film, he experienced creative difficulties with producer Frank Yablans.
Gent made his home in Texas for many years, where he was friends with many of the significant creative minds of the day, including Larry L. King, Billy Lee Brammer, Gary Cartwright, Bud Shrake, Jerry Jeff Walker, and Dan Jenkins. They called themselves the Mad Dogs.
Gent also explored the corruption in modern professional sports in a sequel volume entitled North Dallas After 40, published in 1989, and in an unrelated football novel The Franchise, published in 1983.
Gent had two children, Holly Gent Palmo (born 1963) and Carter Davis Gent (born 1976). He resided in Bangor, Michigan at the time of his death from a pulmonary disease on September 30, 2011, and was working on a novel.
- Murry R. Nelson American Sports: A History of Icons, Idols, and Ideas 2013 Page 962 "Gent was born August 23, 1942, in Bangor, Michigan, where he was an outstanding basketball player, leading Bangor High School to a Michigan state championship in 1960. Gent earned a basketball scholarship to Michigan State University,"
- AnnArbor.com Staff (March 30, 2010). "State coaches association announces "Retro" Mr. Basketball winners". The Ann Arbor News. Retrieved August 3, 2014.
- Goldstein, Richard (October 2, 2011). "Peter Gent, Football Novelist, Dies at 69". New York Times. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
- CBS Interactive Staff (May 14, 2014). "100 Days of the Big Ten Medal of Honor: Day 65". CBS Interactive. Retrieved August 3, 2014.
- Mihoces, Gary (April 20, 2005). "NFL seeks best players on the court or mat". USA Today. Archived from the original on October 28, 2013. Retrieved October 28, 2013.
- Daly, Dan (October 2, 2011). "“North Dallas Forty” and the Baltimore Bullets". Washington Post. Retrieved August 3, 2014.
- Hand, Jack (August 17, 1967). "Potent Dallas Aims At Packer Rematch". The Milwaukee Journal. Retrieved August 3, 2014.
- Associated Press (June 14, 1969). "Cowboys' Flanker Gent Shipped To New York". Toledo Blade. Retrieved August 3, 2014.
- Associated Press (September 9, 1969). "Mitchell Quits Redskins; Patterson Appeals Tax Rap". The Michigan Daily. Retrieved August 3, 2014.
- Carter, Bill (December 11, 2010). "APPRAISAL; Meredith Favored His Wits Over His Playbooks". New York Times. Retrieved August 3, 2014.
- Yardley, Jonathan (October 4, 2012). "Finding a Renaissance in the Gritty Red Dust". New York Times. Retrieved August 3, 2014.
- Chambers, Marcia (November 19, 1989). "IN SHORT; FOOTBALL". New York Times. Retrieved August 3, 2014.
- WWMT-TV obituary (October 1, 2011) at the Wayback Machine (archived January 4, 2012)