Rickey Dixon wore a smile as big as Oklahoma's 8,750 square-foot video board could illustrate it.
As of this December, the former Sooner safety will be included in the College Football Hall of Fame. And the university he attended from 1984-87 and the National Football Foundation honored his upcoming induction during halftime of OU’s opener against Houston on Sunday.
"In a long line of Oklahoma greats, Rickey Dixon stands out as one of the best defensive players to ever suit up for the Sooners," said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell in a release. "He helped the team to a national title and set multiple school and conference records along the way. We are thrilled to honor him at Memorial Stadium."
The only hiccup for Sunday’s presentation was Dixon, who’s battling Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, couldn’t be on the field for the presentation.
The 5-foot-11 defensive back still made his presence felt to the 84,534 people at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.
“For Rickey, this school is full of people that have overcome the odds and tough things in their life and he certainly personifies that,” said OU coach Lincoln Riley. “I haven't got a chance to be around him as much as I would've liked to but certainly really proud and happy for him.”
Lorraine Dixon, Rickey’s wife, and his children — Rickey Jr., Cameron, Brittanney and Alana — represented the Dallas native on Owen Field. They were joined by Dixon’s former Sooner teammates, who carried his jersey to midfield, and his head coach, Barry Switzer.
The crowd roared as OU honored the 52 year old, who played in the NFL from 1988-93. But the noise raised to another level as OU’s video board showed a live shot of Dixon, who was inside Switzer’s home during the game.
The hall-of-fame inductee donned his 1988 Orange Bowl jersey and smiled to the camera as spectators audibly showed their appreciation for him.
Under Switzer, Dixon developed into a national champion in 1985, consensus All-American in 1987 and a first-round NFL draft pick in 1988.
While none of OU’s players were alive during Dixon’s playing days, the current Sooners have been able to learn and understand Dixon’s career.
“We've talked with it a little bit with our team,” Riley said. “It's one of those things, it's hard to get a pure sense of it. The story itself is pretty amazing and what a great thing with him being honored.”