NEW YORK – From the moment he first started playing football in Great Falls to his current job coaching in Calgary in the Canadian Football League, it seems like everything Dave Dickenson has touched turns to gold.
On Tuesday, the Montana Grizzlies legend entered the College Football Hall of Fame, capping off a remarkable run for a man who has so often achieved greatness.
“These two weeks for me have been as good as any in my life,” said Dickenson.
When you’ve had a life like his, that phrase means a lot. Dickenson is in New York for his induction into the College Football Hall of Fame, just 10 days after capturing the Grey Cup in his third try as Calgary Stampeders head coach.
“I remember seeing some other athletes, Peyton Manning and other guys, who just after they finished the Super Bowl they almost felt like they’re exhausted, and they have relief,” said Dickenson. “I felt the same way, I felt like it was overdue.”
You can excuse Dickenson if his first emotion wasn’t elation. After all, winning championships has become almost a habit. The quarterback captured two state titles in high school at Great Falls CMR. Then he led Montana to the school’s first-ever national championship in 1995. Dickenson left that field on top of the world, thinking he had played his final game.
“For me, it was kind of like, ‘The career is over, what a great way to finish,’” admitted Dickenson. “Felt like we had done something special, no one could take it away. After that moment, everything kind of fell in line. I’m 5-(foot)-10, 185 (pounds). I didn’t think I’d play a year of professional sports, let alone 13.”
About two decades north of the border have made it difficult for the Montanan to return to his roots. Until this fall, when as part of his College Hall of Fame induction, perhaps the most beloved Grizzly ever spent a weekend on campus getting back in touch with the UM program. Dickenson said the trip was as good as it gets.
“Basically if you have a relative or any ties to Montana, and you’ve done something special in sports, Montana is going to adopt you,” said Dickenson. “I’m glad they’re proud of who I am and what I accomplished and also what I stand for. I’m doing my best to represent the state.”
The undersized, overlooked quarterback now enters the Hall of Fame alongside the likes of Charles Woodson, Calvin Johnson and Ed Reed. Dickenson still only knows how to win.
“You get together with these guys, guys I’ve looked up to my whole life, is big time for me just to get away and be part of this group,” he said. “It’d be tough to top 2018, though, because it’s been a great year for me.”
Dickenson already entered the Canadian Football Hall of Fame three years ago for his record-setting playing career in the CFL.
-Derek Buerkle reporting for MTN Sports