According to former head coach Barry Switzer, former Oklahoma Sooners DB Rickey Dixon has passed away at the age of 53. Dixon, who was diagnosed with ALS several years ago, was the 1987 Jim Thorpe Award winner and a 2019 inductee into the College Football Hall of Fame. He was also a key contributor for OU’s 1985 National Championship team.
I’m sorry to announce 3 o’clock this afternoon passing of Ricky Dixon! he died in his home in De Soto Texas with his family around him! He was inducted into college football Hall of Fame this past year! He was one of the greatest players ever played the Sooners! @OU_Football— Barry Switzer (@Barry_Switzer) August 1, 2020
During his time in Norman, Dixon accrued 16 interceptions, nine of which came during his 1987 Thorpe Award and Consensus All-American campaign. The latter total is still a program record for a single season.
Following his senior season, Dixon was selected fifth overall by the Cincinnati Bengals in the 1988 NFL Draft. He’d end up spending six seasons in the NFL — five with the Bengals and one of the Oakland Raiders — and ended his pro career with six interceptions.
In a 2019 interview with George Stoia, Dixon’s family stated that his condition was a direct result of undiagnosed concussions suffered during his playing career. In 2017, his family was awarded $4.5 million in a class-action settlement with the NFL.
While the late chapters of Dixon’s life were tragic, Dixon by all accounts held a positive attitude until the very end. We can also take some comfort in the fact that he was able to hear of his HOF nod prior to his passing, and it was incredibly cool to see his son accept the honor on his behalf.
Former OU DB Rickey Dixon is officially a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. His son, Rickey Dixon, Jr. accepted the honor on his behalf as his father still battles ALS. Video courtesy of the NFF. #Sooners pic.twitter.com/1C1EXg3jIb— Dylan Buckingham (@DylanBuckingham) December 11, 2019
Rest in peace, Rickey.