Years ago, a young man who was considered a model athlete had the great fortune of being a first round pick with the Oakland Raiders.
Eldridge Dickey was his name. He attended one of the finest high schools in the Houston Independent School District.
Dickey was so good in high school that some said he was not coachable, according to Ric More who was interviewed on May 8.
The label did not stick because the entire team at Booker T. Washington High School was outstanding during the era that Dickey was on the roster.
Most accounts of Dickey's life do not recognize the fact that a man can mature and change, even after his life has been impacted by decisions in the NFL. Some of the decisions of the Sixties are the thesis for research in the 21st century.
A man can change. And yes, a nation can change, too.
Pictured with Damali is Prof. Ric More, a historian and researcher. More is not only adept at discussing issues in the NFL during the Sixties, he also has contact with an 88-year-old relative who worked for Lyndon B. Johnson, the leader who did so much for facilitating legislation to promote civil rights.
During the Sixties, civil rights also needed to be promoted in the NFL.
John F. Kennedy started an aspect of the movement, and his life was cut short by the negative forces of those times.
Johnson, who became the 36th President of the United States, led the United States of America to higher levels of integrated and harmonious living in America.
During the years of Johnson, a man that More has researched and who has pictures of hundreds of pieces of Johnson's memorabilia, is a man who also carries memories of what happened to Eldridge Dickey, his second cousin.
Dickey was among many in the Dickey family who was athletic. There was more than one professional football player in the Dickey family. One relative was even an Olympic star.
Dickey was the son of a Baptist minister. The character structure of such a man, reared in a Christian home did not guarantee an adjustment to some of the decisions of the times.
In other words, Dickey, until his death, always shared with his family the disappointment of not getting to fulfill his dream of being a first, functional African-American quarterback for the Oakland Raiders.
Dickey did become a minister and pastor before he passed away. But, he seemed to have been cautious throughout his life in terms of revealing exactly what happened to him, and exactly what was said to him and about him as an Oakland Raider.
As men get older, however, and before they die, they often share the secrets of the pains and pangs of social intolerance. Dickey, apparently, has done the same.
And, the beauty of the struggle of the Sixties is that sometimes the pain and process of hindering the forefathers, even in the NFL, is the very energy that gets transferred to produce excellent and politically astute progeny. So it is with Dickey.
His son is a superb and prolific writer, positioned in a industry that is equipped to tell Dickey's story with more veracity than that of previous articles or biographies.
History reveals that when one man opens the door, often he does not get a chance to dwell, for a long time, in the place behind the door that he enters. The pressures and decisions that are made for various reasons, often impact the life and extended family of the man who walked through an open door.
More insists that Al Davis can say more about what really happened to Dickey when he was an Oakland Raider. One thing is certain: there are only a few lines of data for Dickey's career, and there is a gap in his presence on the Oakland Raiders' roster.
Dickey has data for 1968 and 1971 only.
Dickey is cited in 1968 and he was a teammate with another wide receiver named Warren Wells. In another interview Wells, who resides in a Southeast Texas town, said that there became four wide receivers in 1968, when Dickey was moved to that position.
They were Rod Sherman, Fred Biletnikoff, Eldridge Dickey, and Wells.
In 1968, the quarterback was Daryl Lamonica. In 1971 the quarterback was Ken Stabler.
More said that his research indicates that Stabler had his perceptions of Dickey, but this needs to be verified.
Here is an observation.
Since Dickey joined the Oakland Raiders in 1968 when Daryl Lamonica was the quarterback, then any issues about Dickey being added as a starting quarterback should have existed, at the time, between Lamonica and Dickey. But, More's research needs to clarify that point.
Also, why was there a break in the career of Dickey with the Oakland Raiders? This question must also be answered.
Once Dickey returned to the roster in 1971, Ken Stabler was the quarterback.
All this means is that more research needs to be done, and it will be done.
Here is some of the data for Dickey:
More offered many historical details about the Dickey family and heritage. It became clear that Dickey was born into a fine, smart, strong family from Bryan, Texas. That family is filled with mathematicians, engineers, historians and even a man who worked for more than 40 years with a man who became a President of the United States of America.
And, as in folklore, sometimes when great men have felt hindered by the mores of a society, it is as though their soul cries out from the grave and says: Tell the story. Tell the truth and nothing but the truth.
This is part two of a series of articles designed to inspired all of us to rethink the intricacies, subtle and covert dynamics of the NFL, a place of opportunity and progress for so many, but also a place of struggle and complexities that need more than a superficial discussion in a sports article.
This writer wants to thank Prof. More for his time and talent to not only pursue research on a historical aspect of the NFL and the Oakland Raiders, but to also thank him for his research on persons of the caliber of a President of the United States.
This concludes part two of a series of articles on issues related to Eldridge Dickey, one of the first African-Americans drafted in the category of quarterback, and also drafted in round one.
Summary and Conclusion
1. Dickey had a good start from high school.
2. He was labeled as uncoachable at that level, but he overcame the label in high school (and college)
3. Dickey entered the NFL and the Oakland Raiders team when America was struggling with social justice issues.
4. Dickey was known for an addiction, but not for his recovery.
5. Dickey has a very successful son who few people know about.
6. For whatever reason, Dickey did not get much playing time with the Oakland Raiders.
7. More research is needed.
8. Dickey's career was short, but history was made. He placed "a brick" in the foundation on which this generation of players stand.
We thank Eldridge Dickey and his family for their contribution to NFL history.
Source No. 2, taped interview with Prof. Ric More