One of the many great men who shared stories in The Game before the Money: Voices of the Men Who Built the NFL, was Dick Frey. His family wrote to share that he passed away peacefully on April 25th, 2020. He was 90 years old.
Dick Frey’s inspirational life story and attitude urged others to dream big, work hard, and also remember to exhibit kindness.
Frey attended high school in Southern California. His high school coach didn’t give him a chance to play, even as a senior. Determined to follow his football dreams, Frey enrolled in a junior college to play football. He showed enough potential to gain a transfer to Texas A&M.
He earned a starting role with the Aggies. The first game he ever started – at any level – was for Texas A&M at UCLA, in a stadium within a stone’s throw from where he went to high school. Texas A&M won by 7 points that day to open their 1951 season.
Frey persistently asked the Dallas Texans for a tryout when the American Football League started play in 1960. The Texans weren’t very interested in a player who last played college several years earlier, but Frey pressed enough to win a tryout. A football cleat in the door was all Dick Frey needed. He proved his worth to Coach Hank Stram and earned a spot on the original roster of the Dallas Texans.
In 1961, Frey played for the Houston Oilers. The Oilers made the AFL Championship Game and defeated the San Diego Chargers for the 1961 AFL Championship. Frey retired before the 1962 season.
The Oilers won the championship right in the part of the country that Frey wasn’t given a chance to play high school football. Frey ran into his high school coach who admitted he was wrong about Frey’s talents. Rather than tearing into his coach about the mistake, Frey thanked him for his efforts and the coach was very grateful for the reconciliation.
Dick Frey continued to inspire. His grandson Austin Frey played for a home school team but dreamed of playing Division 1 college football. Dick told his grandson to dream big but to make sure he worked hard for his dream. Undersized and undeterred, Austin Frey set out to learn a special skill – long snapping. He walked on to the Texas A&M football team and eventually earned a scholarship, making him perhaps the first home school player to earn a scholarship in Division 1 history.
HANK STRAM — FREY’S FIRST PRO HEAD COACH