Lynn Dickey was a 6’3” 215-pound pocket passer with a rocket arm, but too many injuries wrecked his early years and diminished his later ones. After being drafted in the third round by the Oilers in 1971, he dislocated and broke his hip in 1972 when he was ground into the Astrodome turf. Dickey returned in 1973 to back up Dan Pastorini, the Oilers first round choice in 1971, for three years. In 1976, Packers coach Bart Starr obtained Dickey in a trade for the failed John Hadl and cornerback Ken Ellis. Given the starting job, Dickey could work no magic without scoring weapons available. The team averaged only 15.2 points a game in 1976, and Lynn went down with a shoulder separation in week ten. The next year was even worse on both the offensive and injury fronts. The Packers averaged a mere 9.2 points a game in the last season before the NFL rules were changed in the offense’s favor, and Dickey’s left leg was snapped on the last play of the ninth game of the year. He would not return till late in the 1979 season, missing all of 1978. By the start of the 1980 season, Dickey had missed 30 of 60 games due to injury in his four years in Green Bay and 53 games altogether in his NFL career. Over that nine-year span, he had thrown 25 touchdowns and 60 interceptions.
Despite the injuries and pain, Dickey’s career finally launched in the 1980s because he had weapons at last: James Lofton as a deep threat, Paul Coffman at tight end, and Eddie Lee Ivery and Gerry Ellis as runners and receivers out of the backfield. John Jefferson would arrive in 1981. From 1980-85, Lynn would fling 116 touchdowns and 119 interceptions. He would throw for more than 3,000 yards in three seasons and set a team record of 4,458 passing yards in 1983 when he also led the league with 32 touchdown passes and an average of 9.21 yards per throw. The offense set a team record that year by scoring 429 points. In fact, the Packers averaged 23.4 points a game from 1981 through 1985; unfortunately, they would also give up 22.4 points a game so mediocrity was their fate.
The quiet, low-keyed Dickey deserved better. He recalled years later to Sports Illustrated, “Did I like throwing picks? No, I absolutely hated it. But if I didn’t take gambles and try squeezing the ball in there, we’d have to punt. And when we punted, we didn’t get the ball back for seven or eight minutes.” Offensive coach Bob Schnelker once described his quarterback in glowing terms, “Lynn is a fine leader, a tough competitor and a very accurate passer. He’s a very smart football player.” Historian Lee Remmel added that Dickey “may have been the greatest long passer in our history.”
(adapted from Green Bay Gold)
Custom cards in Topps style.