When Is The First College Football Game For 2022 The Story of Dick Leftridge – A Forgotten Pioneer Or Simply Ignored

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The Story of Dick Leftridge – A Forgotten Pioneer Or Simply Ignored

By show of hands how many of you have ever heard of Dick Leftridge? I must admit that I too had never heard of Mr. Leftridge until recently when I was contacted by his son, Jack Richard Leftridge Jr. The younger name is trying to remember the name of the father and his achievements in the history books and recognize it correctly. The timing of this move couldn’t have come at a better time than with the highly anticipated release of Disney’s Express opening in theaters. The Express is based on the life of Syracuse great Ernie Davis, the first African-American football player to win the Heisman (1961).

Like Mr. Davis, all accounts point to Dick Leftridge being a pioneer, according to my research and a synopsis obtained from his son, Dick Leftridge was the first African American to receive a football scholarship to play. major college in the South, after he signed with West Virginia University in 1962, which was then playing in the Southern Conference, under Mason Dixon. The recruitment and signing of Dick Leftridge, followed by the signing of another black player, Roger Alford, represented a change in the culture at the university. According to Richard Leftridge Jr., WVU was not his father’s first choice, despite being a hometown product (Hinton, WV), he wanted to attend Ohio State to play for the legendary Woody Hayes; But the elder Leftridge bowed to pressure from more powerful local politicians, who all wanted him to stay home and play at WVU. According to the document, even the local NAACP chapter encouraged Leftridge to attend a local university and be the person to break the color barrier at WVU. Dick Leftridge played at WVU from 1963-1965, during which time he put up a number of impressive statistics, leading and leading scorer in each of his three years at WVU. became Association. Dick Leftridge was the first African-American to play for the South in the 1965 North-South Game, he was also the first African-American to be named to the University of Pittsburgh’s all-contest team, and Dick Leftridge was also the first African-American to voted second-team all-Southern Conference.

Some of you Pittsburgh Steelers fans may remember Dick Leftridge as the team’s first round pick in 1966 when he was the third overall pick that year, he was also the fourth round pick of the AFL’s Miami Dolphins that year. Unfortunately, Dick Leftridge had just one spectacular season for the Steelers, and many fans and media personnel labeled him a bust. This is where the story gets interesting; There are different accounts of why an athlete with so much promise only lasted one season in the NFL. Depending on whose version you believe, some say that Dick Leftridge just didn’t have the desire or discipline to do it, there are stories that say he simply “ate” his way out of the league at too much weight to be effective. to be According to an article about Mr. Leftridge in the Hinton Daily News (7/19/66), the Steelers put a weight clause in his contract, written in the fine print, that brought every pound over 230 pounds. camp would be fined $50, but in an interview with the Charleston Daily News (9/26/85), Mr. Leftridge gave a different account of what happened, he was quoted as saying, “The Steelers wrote in the papers that when I reported , I weighed 300 pounds. Everyone believed it and still does. I’ll admit I was lazy sometimes, but I wasn’t fat. When I reported, I weighed 242 pounds; Hell, all I know is, how to play football. I’ve never done it. I was just a poor boy from Hinton, WV. How could people think I’d throw a hole. Can I win a million dollars? I’ve never I will not turn it back.”

Leftridge appeared to be at WVU through his short career, he was dismissed from the school midway through his senior year, days after he played his last collegiate game and his eligibility expired, in 1976 he school is back. to finish his degree. The younger Leftridge is also quick to point out that his father was no saint; When his football career finally ended, he struggled with his own demons. He recounted the details of his father’s past, which included working in the auto industry in Detroit and making questionable decisions to get involved in the drug game as a dealer, both in Detroit and after returning to his hometown. on the wrong side of the law, Mr. Leftridge was sentenced to five years in federal prison (1987). According to his son, while the elder Leftridge was in prison, the family was subjected to a series of verbal, psychological and physical harassment on the streets and in the workplace.

He also shared stories of his frustration at telling and publishing his father’s story. “I’ve reached out to a lot of people, especially African-American celebrities that I see and hear about in the media and have had little or no interest. I’m not sure if the story is too controversial or what? He’s also facing an uphill battle. In getting WVU to properly recognize his father’s accomplishments and the historical significance of the Highlanders, according to Richard Jr., the school didn’t really recognize his accomplishments until after his death, and even then the school published a short piece that he still shares today. Now, critics will argue that getting drafted shouldn’t be based on race as a selection criterion and that you should be judged strictly on athletic merit, supporters on the other hand can point to his stats and some of his accolades (previously mentioned) and in this case he was the first African-American player at WVU, during a turbulent time (civil rights era) in this country’s history, should be considered. Inability to perform on the field, he was and still is the highest pick in the NFL draft. Does Dick Leftridge deserve to be inducted into the WVU Hall of Fame? I’ll let you decide. In my humble opinion, I think Dick Leftridge’s story is one of intrigue, mystery, and historical significance, and it deserves further investigation if any of you want to help little Leftridge on his journey to promote his father’s story (he can jrljr63 @yahoo.com), he will be very kind, he is not looking for fame or fortune from this story, just an opportunity to share the legacy of the Forgotten Pioneer.

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