Greatest Quarterback We Never Saw: Eldridge Dickey, Brayden Lenius’ grandfather

By Arman Malhotra ’15, Sports Editor

Known as the Jackie Robinson of the National Football League, Eldridge Dickey was one of the greatest quarterbacks who played the game. Yet the nation never saw him reach his full potential.

Dickey was a three-year All-American, Sportsman of the Year all four years in college, part of the Hall of Fame at Tennessee State University, had 67 touchdowns, 6,523 passing yards, was able to throw 60+ yards with both arms, and to cap it off, he was nicknamed “The Lord’s Prayer.”

How much talent can one man have?

Well it all showed when he was the first African American drafted into the NFL to the Oakland Raiders in the first round over Ken Stabler, who was later inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame. During the preseason, Dickey outperformed Stabler but was benched due to the color of his skin.

The team, Dickey, and even Stabler knew who the better quarterback was, but “society wasn’t ready to have a black quarterback,” grandson and Chaminade senior Brayden Lenius told The Talon.

“It was the color of his skin that held him back,” Lenius told The Talon, adding that Dickey was treated unfairly during his career in the NFL.

Dickey knew he would face hardships during his career as a football player.  Being moved around from quarterback to running back and then to wide receiver, Dickey knew he must face obstacles before having the fame and success that comes along with being a talented athlete. He was famous for being humble and notably said: “I must bear the cross before I wear the crown,” which showed his deep faith life and how he knew what he needed to do to go about a situation that was never in his favor.

During his tenure in the National Football League, Dickey was never used to his full potential, and all the coaches in the league knew that.  After his time with the Raiders, Hank Stram, head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, wanted Dickey, but by the time he would get him four years later, Dickey was done with the NFL. He never forgave what the Raiders did to his career. Dickey went on to play in the Canadian Football League and thrived there as an outstanding football player, but never in the same spotlight he could have been in.

Dickey’s legacy lives on with his grandson, Chaminade wide receiver No. 81, who’s a talented football player, just like his grandfather. Lenius keeps the memory of his grandfather alive by wearing a towel during every football game with the words: “The Lord’s Prayer” emblazoned on it. Dickey was a great player and an even greater influence on his grandson and the game of football, but in a time where he was not accepted into the game where he thrived most.

Eldridge Reno Dickey, b. Dec. 24, 1945 – d. May 22, 2000.