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Former Bengals safety Rickey Dixon passes away at 53

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Dixon, taken fifth-overall by Cincinnati in 1988, was diagnosed with ALS seven years ago.

Super Bowl XXIII - Cincinnati Bengals v San Francico 49ers

College Football Hall of Fame inductee and former Bengals safety Rickey Dixon passed away at the age of 53 this past Saturday.

Dixon had an illustrious college career at Oklahoma as a defensive back. Under legendary head coach Barry Switzer, Dixon was a productive four-year player and is the co-holder of the Big Eight record for career interceptions (16). In 1985, he helped the Sooners win their sixth National Championship. In his senior year in 1987, he was a Consensus All-American and the winner of the Jim Thorpe Award, given to the nation’s best defensive back. He was eventually inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2019.

“Ever since he left OU, Rickey has been regarded as one of the finest football players in school history,” Oklahoma Vice President and Athletics Director Joe Castiglione said of Dixon’s passing, “and his enshrinement last year into the College Football Hall of Fame is certainly validation of that. As much as any of his accomplishments on the field, however, he should be remembered for his extreme courage and spirit of perseverance. Overcoming the daily physical struggles he faced the last several years is a testament to his determination, to his resolve and to his fighter’s mentality, as well as to those closest to him who provided so much loving support. When we think of Rickey we will reminisce about everything he achieved during and after his playing career, and we extend our sincerest condolences to his wife Lorraine, their children and the entire Dixon family.”

Dixon was the Bengals’ fifth-overall pick in the 1988 NFL Draft. In his rookie season, he recorded one interception and one fumble recovery on the road to the Bengals’ second Super Bowl appearance.

In his second season in 1989, Dixon emerged as a starter at safety and recored a career-high three interceptions. He would stay with the Bengals through the 1992 season, playing five total seasons with the team. He played one season with the Los Angeles Raiders in 1993 before retiring after that year. In total, he hauled in six interceptions in 82 career games and 32 career starts.

In 2013, Dixon was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). He was also a high school teacher and football coach, as well as a motivational speaker for kids after his playing days were done.

With the passing of Ken Riley on June 7th, the Bengals now mourn the loss of two former defensive backs in their team history.