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Old 03-02-2008, 07:55 PM   #1
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Post Buddy Dial dies

He was a very good player on some pretty bad teams.

And, under "Caught on Film," it mentions he'll live on in a funny - although scary for him - NFL Films clip.

Note: Who knew the Steelers had male cheerleaders?

Former Rice, NFL player Dial dies at 71
SWC standout starred for Steelers before injuries left him disabled

By DAVID BARRON
Houston Chronicle

Gilbert "Buddy" Dial, an All-American at Rice and an All-Pro with the Pittsburgh Steelers who spent the final years of his life coping with physical pain and hard times associated with the hard knocks he took on the football field, died Friday at a Houston hospital.

Family members said Dial, 71, had been hospitalized recently for treatment of cancer and pneumonia. He also suffered from partial paralysis because of a stroke and had recently decided to stop kidney dialysis, the final entries in a long series of illnesses and difficulties that began during his NFL career and continued after he retired in 1966.

"He had his struggles, but never once did he express ill will or place blame on anybody other than himself for the choices he made," said his son, David Dial. "He never regretted playing pro sports, even though it cost him personally, physically and financially."

Dial was a standout receiver at Rice, where he won all-conference and All-America honors that led to his 1993 induction into the College Football Hall of Fame, and at Pittsburgh, where he was twice All-Pro. His average gain of 20.8 yards per catch was an NFL record when he retired and remains the second-best average in league history.

LIfe turned upside down
But his later years were a cautionary tale of football's physical toll. He endured five back operations and battled dependence on painkillers, an addiction that wrecked his kidneys and caused personal and financial hardships.

"There were two Buddy Dials that I knew," said former Rice teammate King Hill. "The first one was from college and pro ball, and when you think of all the good things you can say about somebody, Buddy fit all of those. He was at the top of the charts for everything there was.

'And then, after he got hurt, a lot of negative things happened to him. And it was tough not seeing the old Buddy that we were used to seeing."

Born in Ponca City, Okla., Dial played high school football at Magnolia before attending Rice, where he was a member of the Owls' 1957 Southwest Conference championship team. He was drafted in 1959 by the Steelers, where he twice had more than 1,000 receiving yards in a season and three times averaged better than 20 yards per catch.

Caught on film
In 1962, Dial became the subject of one of the NFL's classic Football Follies. He was running into the end zone after catching a pass when the Steelers' male cheerleaders, the Ingots, fired a mortar, loaded with blanks, in his direction, enveloping him in smoke.

Cheerleader Bill Hunt told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette last year: "I went up to Buddy to apologize to him after it happened, and he said, 'Aw, shucks, it wasn't nothing. Just scared me, that's all.' "

A year later, Dial was traded, at his request, to the Dallas Cowboys, where he suffered leg and back injuries that led to his retirement after three unproductive seasons. It was also in Dallas, he told People magazine in 1983, that he developed an addiction to painkillers that continued into the 1980s.

Legal wrangles
In 1993, he became one of a handful of former players to be declared permanently disabled. Three years later, however, he sued the NFL when his former wife was awarded 50 percent of his monthly disability check. A federal judge ruled in his favor, but the ruling was vacated in 1999 by an appeals court.

Also in 1999, his son, Kevin Dial, was one of nine people shot to death by a gunman at two office buildings in Atlanta.

Despite his health problems, Dial returned to Rice Stadium in November to attend a reunion with his 1957 teammates.

He said in 1997: "I love the game. I enjoyed every minute of it, but we didn't know what we were doing to ourselves. If I had it to do over, I'd do it smarter."

Survivors include two sons, Darren Dial of Katy and David Dial of Tyler; a daughter, Sherri Dial of Houston; and five grandchildren.

Services will be at 3 p.m. Wednesday at Klein Funeral Home in Magnolia. Burial will be at Klein Cemetery.

Darren Dial said the service will feature several hymns recorded by his father for Word Records in 1961
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Old 03-03-2008, 04:44 PM   #2
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Default Re: Buddy Dial dies

Was this already posted? Or am I the only guy to remember Buddy Dial?
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Old 03-03-2008, 05:05 PM   #3
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Default Re: Buddy Dial dies

Unfortunately, I guess so.

I'm much too young to be alive during those times. And unfortunately, Mr. Dial, as good as he was, like you said, was on some pretty bad Steelers teams when the organization was a lovable loser laughing stock.

R.I.P Dial.
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Old 03-07-2008, 10:14 PM   #4
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Default Re: Buddy Dial dies

RIP Buddy, thanks for being part of Steeler history.
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