September 19, 2013
By Mark Janssen
It's a bit spooky to think that it was 45 years ago this weekend that Lynn Dickey debuted as quarterback of the Kansas State Wildcats during the 1968 season.
The rest, as they say, is in the K-State record book.
Dickey concluded his career with all-time K-State bests of 994 attempts, 501 completions, 6,208 passing yards and 29 touchdowns that would eventually make him the quarterback of the All-Time All-Big 8 Conference team.
Today, the ex-Wildcat QB still ranks second only to Josh Freeman in attempts, completions and yardage, and is sixth in TD passes in K-State history.
What's even spookier is the fact that Dickey nearly took his talents somewhere else. No, not the stories of nearly going to Kansas, or almost going to Missouri, but there's a never-been-told-before tale of Dickey nearly leaving K-State after the first semester of his freshman season in 1967.
"As a freshman, you were nothing but hamburger for the varsity," reflected Dickey. "Even quarterbacks got the crud knocked out of you with two-man drills. It was a day when quarterbacks didn't wear another colored jersey."
Out of Osawatomie High School, several of Dickey's buddies had gone to Fort Scott Community College where Dickey says "... they rented a house and were loving life while my fun-meter was really low. I wanted to leave."
Dickey left for the Christmas holidays knowing there was a certain day in January that he had to be back. He told his mother that he wasn't returning to K-State and then put in a call to Hindman Wall, who was coach Vince Gibson's administrative assistant.
"I told him that I wasn't coming back, and he interrupted by saying, 'They shut enrollment down at 4 this afternoon. It's 11 now, so you better get right up here,' and then he hangs up on me," Dickey said. "Vince then got a hold of me and said, 'I hear you're going to be late. Well, get here today or you're not coming back,' and hangs up on me. I never got to say a word."
Dickey did drive to Manhattan to enroll, but then returned home the same day. On the Sunday before Monday classes started, Dickey was still in Osawatomie at 10 at night.
"My mom had washed my clothes, stuffed them in a duffle bag, and said, 'You better get going'," Dickey chuckled. "She picked up the bag, walked me out the door, and said, 'You drive careful, now', and then dead bolted the lock. My own mother had basically thrown me out of the house.
"I was feeling low," said Dickey. "I think I even hit a dog on my way back into Manhattan."
Pausing, Dickey added, "Life's interesting. Had I gone to Fort Scott I've often wondered where in the world I would have ended up."
DICKEY ENDS UP IN WHITE SHOES: In uniform as a Wildcat, Dickey led the Wildcats to a 4-6 record as a sophomore in 1968, which at the time was K-State's best season since 1955.
Full of himself and always a Joe Namath fan, it was prior to the 1969 season that Dickey went to Gibson to tell him that he was going to wear white shoes like his idol.
"He just looked at me and said, 'Why do you want guys to make fun of you?' " Dickey recalled. "He wasn't for it, but left it up to me."
Dickey took his pair of cleats and his pair of turf shoes to a Manhattan shoe store and had them died white.
"I'm sure they made white shoes for Joe Namath, but not for Lynn Dickey," he laughed. "I'd have them re-died before every game. With our budget back then, I'm surprised K-State paid to have them died."
Dickey debuted the white shoes on Sept. 20 at Baylor in a 48-15 victory.
"Early in the game Baylor's defensive linemen kept yelling, 'Look at those punk white shoes'," said Dickey. "I didn't say anything until we were ahead by 30, and finally said, 'Look at the scoreboard! See what those punk white shoes are doing to you?"
Dickey said that "somehow" Namath found out "some kid in Kansas" was wearing white shoes and he sent a personalized autograph picture.
"The first time I played against him in the NFL I ran up to him and said, 'Hi, I'm Lynn Dickey.' He just said, 'I know who you are'," Dickey said. "He even gave me one of his line of shirts that had a pair of white shoes on it instead of a Polo pony or Izod alligator."
PLAYING FOR THE BIG BUCKS: Dickey would be a third-round draft choice of the Houston Oilers signing a three-year contract for $20,000, $25,000 and $30,000 for the 1971, '72 and '73 seasons.
"I was happy as a lark. My father worked on the railroad and never made more than $9,000, and here I was making $20,000 playing football," said Dickey. "I told the Oilers to pay be $10,000 and defer the other $10,000. In my mind there was no way I could spend $10,000 in a year.
"I almost made it," Dickey laughed. "The first of July, I had to call the Oilers to tell them to send me another $1,000."
A FAN OF SNYDER'S: Dickey remembers being a guest at a team meeting held by coach Bill Snyder.
"There were 100 guys in the room just talking and goofing around, but when Bill walked in the room they were on the edge of their chairs and you could have heard a pin drop. Not one player said a word," said Dickey. "To me, that showed tremendous respect for the man."