He is a legendary pass-rusher who terrorized quarterbacks in college and in the National Football League (NFL). He is Tennessee State University’s first NFL Hall of Famer. During halftime of the TSU Big Blue’s first game of the 2013 campaign, against Bethune-Cookman University on Sept. 1, the Tennessee State Athletic Department will retire legendary TSU football player Richard Dent’s Number 95 jersey.
Dent will be the honoree of the 15th annual John Merritt Classic and his jersey will become the first one retired in the football program’s history, the second overall in TSU’s storied athletic tradition. The only other retired jersey by TSU is former men’s basketball player Richard “Skull” Barnett’s Number 35.
Dent, a native of Atlanta Ga., became the first former TSU player to be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August, 2011. He had played with the TSU tigers from 1979-82 and was subsequently drafted by the Chicago Bears soon after completing his last superlative season with the Tigers.
Throughout his memorable time at TSU, Dent was a three time All-American and currently ranks third on the school’s all-time sack list. While helping to lead the Tigers to three Black college National Champions, Dent finished his career with 39 sacks.
After his sparkling football career at Tennessee State University, Dent was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the eighth round of the 1983 NFL Draft. In 1986, Dent won an NFL championship with the Bears, during the memorable ‘Super Bowl Shuffle’ days with former Jackson State University star running back Walter Payton and former BYU quarterback Jim McMahon, among others. Dent was named Super Bowl XX MVP, becoming the first defensive player to win the prestigious award previously the domain of the so-called ‘skilled players,’ such as quarterbacks and running backs who usually carry, catch, or throw the ball. He is also at this point in time the only TSU Tiger alumnus to be named game MVP for a Super Bowl, although several have played in the NFL title games.
Beyond the Bears, Dent spent one year with the San Francisco 49ers before eventually returning to Chicago in 1995. While under contract with the 49ers in 1994, Richard Dent won yet another Super Bowl ring. Dent played for the Indianapolis Colts in 1996 and the Philadelphia Eagles in 1997 as a designated pass rusher. Not long after his 1997 season, Dent retired and ended his lifetime career with 137.5 sacks and 8 interceptions, placing him third in NFL history (behind Reggie White and Bruce Smith) at the time of his retirement.
Dent was the first player to have his college marching band, the TSU Aristocrat of Bands, attend his enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. He was also inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame on February 15, 2008.
The city of Nashville will award Dent a medallion for his outstanding accomplishments.
TSU football Senior Kick-Off Luncheon
The Tennessee State football team will hold its annual Senior Kick-Off Luncheon, nine days prior to Big Blue’s first contest against Bethune-Cookman on Friday Aug. 23. The event will take place at the Millennium Maxwell House Hotel at 11 am and will serve to both honor TSU’s 17 four-year letter winners and generate excitement for the squad’s upcoming campaign.
Tiger supporters can purchase ticket packages that start at $65 for an individual to the luncheon or buy sets that include multiple seats and season tickets. Fans can also pay for advertisements that will run in the luncheon’s program. For more information, please contact Natasha Plant at 615-963-7562.