Rapid by a clearly show of hands how quite a few of you ever read of Dick Leftridge before nowadays? I have to confess I far too never ever listened to of Mr. Leftridge right until not too long ago, when I was contacted by his son Jack Richard Leftridge Jr. The more youthful namesake is on a quest to have his father’s title and achievements remembered and thoroughly acknowledged in the background guides. The timing of this motion could not have appear at a greater time in lieu of the really expected launch of the Disney movie “The Convey” due to open up in theaters. The Categorical is primarily based on the everyday living of the late Syracuse fantastic Ernie Davis who was the to start with African-American football participant to win the Heisman (1961).
Like Mr. Davis all accounts level to the fact that Dick Leftridge was a pioneer in his very own correct, in accordance to my analysis and a synopsis been given from his son, Dick Leftridge was the to start with African-American to get a football scholarship to engage in for a main college or university in the south, following he signed with West Virginia University in 1962, which at the time played in the Southern meeting, underneath the Mason Dixon line. The recruitment and signing of Dick Leftridge accompanied by the subsequent signing of an additional black player Roger Alford represented a change in the society at the university. According to Richard Leftridge Jr., WVU was not his father’s to start with choice irrespective of remaining a hometown product (Hinton, WV), he desired to show up at Ohio Point out to enjoy for the legendary Woody Hayes having said that the elder Leftridge bowed to the pressure he been given from boosters to area politicians all of whom wished him to continue to be dwelling and perform at WVU. According to the doc even the regional chapter of the NAACP encouraged Leftridge to go to the nearby college and be the one particular who broke the colour barrier at WVU. Dick Leftridge performed for WVU from 1963-1965 during that time he set up some remarkable stats he was the top floor gainer and scorer just about every of his 3 yrs at WVU, in 1965 he was named Newbie Athlete of the year by the West Virginia Sports activities author Affiliation. Dick Leftridge was the initial African-American to participate in for the south workforce in the North-South Shrine recreation in 1965, he was also the to start with African-American named to the College of Pittsburgh All-Opponent staff, and Dick Leftridge was also the initially African-American voted to the second groups all south convention.
A couple of you older Pittsburgh Steelers admirers may remember Dick Leftridge as the team’s very first round decide on in 1966 he was picked out third over-all that 12 months, he was also a fourth round range of the AFL’s Miami Dolphins that similar yr. Sad to say Dick Leftridge only played one unspectacular season for the Steelers and several followers and media personnel labeled him a bust. This is where the story gets intriguing there are various accounts as to why an athlete with so significantly assure lasted only one particular time in the NFL? Based on whose model you believe some say Dick Leftridge, basically didn’t have the need and discipline to make it, there are tales that say he just “ate” his way out of the league by placing on as well a great deal fat to be powerful as an elite working back again, according to one write-up on Mr. Leftridge created in the Hinton Everyday Information (7/19/66), the Steelers experienced a pounds clause put in his deal, the wonderful print browse that just about every pound about 230 he introduced to camp would have a $50 high-quality, even so in an job interview with a reporter of the Charleston Daily Information (9/26/85) Mr.Leftridge gave a unique account of the situations, he is quoted as saying the “Steelers place in the papers that I weighed 300 lbs when I noted. Every person considered that and they continue to do. I confess I was lazy often, but I wasn’t body fat. I weighed 242 kilos when I described Hell all I know is how to enjoy soccer. That’s all I’ve at any time finished. I was just a inadequate boy from Hinton (WV). How could folks feel I might toss away a likelihood to make a million pounds? I’d by no means convert my back again on that”.
Controversy seemed to adhere to Leftridge from WVU through his quick pro profession he was dismissed from college in the middle of the semester of his senior 12 months a handful of times after he performed his past collegiate recreation and his eligibility was performed, in 1976 he would return to school to total his degree. The more youthful Leftridge is also quick to position out that his dad was no saint he wrestled with his own demons after his football occupation eventually ended. He shared information of his father’s checkered previous this included time expended in Detroit working in the automotive sector, and earning questionable choices to get involved in the drug recreation as a seller both of those in Detroit and on his return to his hometown, as a consequence of staying on the erroneous facet of the regulation, Mr. Leftridge was sentenced to a 5 year stint in federal jail (1987). According to his son when the elder Leftridge sat in jail there had been a variety of alleged verbal, mental and actual physical harassment of the family on the streets and sites of employment.
He also shared tales of his disappointment in finding his dad’s story informed and revealed. “I’ve contacted a good deal of men and women, in particular the African-American superstars I see and listen to in the media and gained minimal to no desire, I’m not guaranteed if the tale is as well controversial or what? He’s also confronted an uphill fight in finding WVU to appropriately accept his father’s achievements and historic significance for the Mountaineers. In accordance to Richard JR. the college didn’t genuinely accept his accomplishments until his demise and even then the university just posted a quick blurb, to this working day he nonetheless has not been inducted into their Corridor of Fame. Now the critics will argue that being inducted ought to not be based on race as a conditions for variety, and you should be judged strictly on athletic achievements , on the flip side supporters can stage out his stats and some of his awards (mentioned before) and in this situation his staying the initial African-American participant at WVU, during a time of tumultuous unrest (Civil Rights Period) in this country’s historical past, must be taken into thought together with his on discipline functionality, he was and however is the colleges maximum at any time NFL draft select. Does Dick Leftridge are worthy of to be inducted in the WVU Corridor of fame? I’ll permit you make a decision. In my humble viewpoint I believe the tale of Dick Leftridge is one of intrigue, mystique and historical significance and one that requires more exploration, if any of you would like to assist the young Leftridge on his journey to endorse his dads tale (he can be achieved at [email protected]), he would be very gracious, he is not seeking fame and fortune from this story, just a likelihood to share the legacy of a neglected Pioneer.