While Rickey Dixon sat a mile away in Barry Switzer’s home back on Sept. 1, Dixon’s family was on the field as the National Football Foundation honored the former Sooner during a halftime ceremony in Norman.
And during a ceremony in New York City on Tuesday night, Rickey Dixon Jr. represented his dad once again as the NFF inducted him into the College Football Hall of Fame.
For the Dixons, it’s all just another level of appreciation that Sooner Nation continues to show to one of best players in school history.
“I actually had dinner with Barry the other day,” Rickey Dixon Jr. said Tuesday in Manhattan. “He’s out here for his support, and there’s a couple other Sooners, like Joe Washington, that came to give theirs as well. They’re out here somewhere. The Sooners have always been with him. It’s just like another big family for us.”
Dixon was among 13 former players in the 2019 class inducted into the hall.
Dixon, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2013, was unable to make the trip, but his absence doesn’t lessen his family’s pride in being OU’s latest Hall of Famer.
“It means a lot for us,” Rickey Jr. said. “I means, you know, a lot of the recognition — a lot of people may not know about Rickey or his skill set, how good he was in football. With his disease now, you might look at him now and be like, ‘Oh, a frail, smaller guy,’ but when he was playing, you could see that he was, like, a force to be reckoned with.”
Dixon is the 22nd Sooner — and first true defensive back — inducted into the hall.
Dixon was a consensus All-American in 1987 and was the first Sooner to win the Jim Thorpe Award as college football’s top defensive back. He was a two-time first-team All-Big Eight safety in 1986 and ’87.
Dixon finished his career with 170 tackles and 17 interceptions (one off the school record), including a single-season school record nine in 1987. He also stands second in school history (behind Derrick Strait) with 303 yards on interception returns.
OU went 42-5-1 (.885) in Dixon’s four seasons in Norman playing for Switzer, with four Big Eight titles and four Orange Bowl appearances, including the 1985 team that won the program’s sixth national championship.
Dixon joins Switzer and Sooner teammates Brian Bosworth, Tony Casillas and Keith Jackson in the College Hall of Fame.
He was drafted No. 5 overall in the 1988 NFL Draft by Cincinnati and played six seasons with the Bengals and Los Angeles Raiders.
After football, Dixon became a motivational speaker for at-risk youth and also owned a landscaping business, coached high school football and taught high school PE.
Although it’s been from a distance, Dixon has enjoyed being remembered as a fearsome hitter and speedy ball hawk, his son said.
“Speed. Speed. He was fast,” Rickey Jr. said. “He was fast, and it always seemed he found where the ball was. It’s like you throw it up and somehow he appeared.”
ALS has diminished Dixon’s body, but not his spirit.
“Every day he’s celebrating,” Jackson told Matt Fortuna of The Athletic for Dixon’s NFF profile. “We wake up going, ‘What am I going to do this weekend? What am I going to do for the future?’ But every day he celebrates: ‘This day is a great day.’ ”
“He’s always got a smile on his face. He’s always happy,” Rickey Jr. said. “He doesn’t lose any hope in regards to his disease or anything like that. We still have the belief we’re gonna beat it. We thank the Lord every day for him still being here with us. We’re going every day kind of like a battle.”
Formerly co-host of “Further Review” and “The Franchise Drive,” columnist John E. Hoover is a college football insider on The Franchise in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. Listen at fm107.7 in OKC, fm107.9/am1270 in Tulsa, on The Franchise app, or click the “Listen” tab on The Franchise home page. Hoover co-hosts The Franchise “Inside OU” Podcast with Brady Trantham and Rufus Alexander, and the Locked oN Sooners podcast on the Locked oN Podcast Network. He also covers the Big 12 for Sporting News and Lindy’s magazine and is a feature writer for Sooner Spectator magazine. Visit his YouTube channel at YouTube.com/c/JohnHoover, and his personal page at johnehoover.com.
2019 College Football Hall of Fame Inductees
Terrell Buckley (Florida State)
Rickey Dixon (Oklahoma)
London Fletcher (John Carroll)
Jacob Green (Texas A&M)
Torry Holt (North Carolina State)
Raghib “Rocket” Ismail (Notre Dame)
Darren McFadden (Arkansas)
Jake Plummer (Arizona State)
Troy Polamalu (Southern California)
Joe Thomas (Wisconsin)
Lorenzo White (Michigan State)
Patrick Willis (Mississippi)
Vince Young (Texas)
Dennis Erickson (Idaho, Wyoming, Washington State, Miami, Oregon State, Arizona State)
Joe Taylor (Howard, Virginia Union, Hampton, Florida A&M)
Oklahomans in the College Football Hall of Fame
|Pos||Player School Year||(year inducted)|
|QB||Troy Aikman, OU 1984-85/UCLA 1987-88 (Henryetta)||(2008)|
|LB||Brian Bosworth, OU 1984-86||(2015)|
|C||Tom Brahaney, OU 1970-72||(2007)|
|C||Kurt Burris, OU 1951-54 (Muskogee)||(2000)|
|QB||Brad Calip, East Central U. 1982-85 (Hobart)||(2003)|
|NG||Tony Casillas, OU 1982-85, Tulsa East Central||(2004)|
|DB||Rickey Dixon, Oklahoma (1984-87)||(2019)|
|HB||Glenn Dobbs, Tulsa 1940-42 (Fredrick)||(1980)|
|HB||Bob Fenimore, OSU 1943-46 (Woodward)||(1972)|
|FB||Forest Geyer, OU 1913-15||(1973)|
|TE||Keith Jackson, OU 1984-87||(2001)|
|HB||Tommy McDonald, OU 1954-56||(1985)|
|E||Jim Owens, OU 1946-49 (Oklahoma City)||(1982)|
|HB||Steve Owens, OU 1967-69 (Miami)||(1991)|
|HB||Greg Pruitt, OU 1970-72||(1999)|
|FB||Claude Reeds, OU 1910-13 (Norman)||(1961)|
|QB||Jerry Rhome, Tulsa 1963-64||(1998)|
|G||J.D. Roberts, OU 1951-53||(1993)|
|TB||Barry Sanders, OSU 1986-88||(2003)|
|DT||Lee Roy Selmon, OU 1972-75 (Eufaula)||(1988)|
|OG||Will Shields, Nebraska 1989-92 (Lawton)||(2011)|
|LB||Rod Shoate, OU 1971-74 (Spiro)||(2013)|
|HB||Billy Sims, OU 1975-79||(1995)|
|HB||Clendon Thomas, OU 1955-57 Oklahoma City||(2011)|
|RB||Thurman Thomas, OSU 1984-87||(2008)|
|HB||Jim Thorpe, Carlisle 1907-08, ’11-12 (Prague/Yale)||(1951)|
|C||Jerry Tubbs, OU 1954-56||(1996)|
|WR||Howard Twilley, Tulsa 1963-65||(1992)|
|HB||Billy Vessels, OU 1950-52 (Cleveland)||(1974)|
|HB||Joe Washington, OU 1972-75||(2005)|
|T||Jim Weatherall, OU 1948-51 (Oklahoma City)||(1992)|
|E||Waddy Young, OU 1936-38 (Ponca City)||(1986)|
|Coaches, school, years||(induction)|
|John Cooper, Tulsa 1977-84||(2008)|
|Jimmy Johnson, OSU 1979-83||(2012)|
|Biff Jones, OU 1935-36||(1954)|
|Benny Owen, OU 1905-26||(1951)|
|Darrell Royal, Texas (Hollis) 1957-76||(1983)|
|Francis Schmidt, Tulsa 1919-21||(1971)|
|Barry Switzer, OU 1973-88||(2001)|
|Jim Tatum, OU 1946||(1984)|
|Lynn Waldorf, Oklahoma City 1926-27/OSU 1929-33||(1966)|
|Bud Wilkinson, OU 1947-63||(1969)|