Coming down to just 11 days left before kick-off against North Dakota State, we’re left with a missing jersey as the spring roster doesn’t appear to include anyone designated jersey #11 – which makes sense, given that it’s the only jersey the program has ever retired. This morning we look at the players that jersey retirement honored in Lynn Dickey and Steve Grogan, two of the best quarterbacks to ever play for the Wildcats.
Lynn Dickey came to Manhattan from Osawatomie, Kansas in 1967 and was a talent K-State was extremely excited to keep at home after much success in high school, where the stadium is now named after him. He soon became the best quarterback in the Big Eight, and finished tenth in Heisman voting his senior year. He was the first Wildcat to ever receive votes in the Heisman poll. While at K-State he passed for 6,208 yards – a record that was broken by Josh Freeman. He was named as the All-Time Big Eight Quarterback by the AP and was inducted into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.
Dickey was drafted by the Houston Oilers in the third round of the NFL draft in 1971. He played there four years with limited success before being traded to Green Bay in 1976. He found much more success with the Packers, and set several club records including yards passing (broken by Aaron Rodgers in 2011), completion percentage in a game, passing yards in a regular season game (broken by Matt Flynn in 2012) and most yards per attempted pass in a season (an NFL record which still stands). His career spanned from 1971 to 1985, and he retired with a touchdown:interception ratio of 141:179 and a quarterback rating of 70.9, having thrown for 23,322 yards over that time.
Grogan was another native Kansan, growing up in and playing for Ottawa High School before coming to K-State and playing 1972-1974. He started his final two years with the team and completed 45 percent of his passes, throwing for 12 touchdowns and 26 interceptions. Grogan finished his career with 2,214 passing yards and 585 rushing yards while serving as occasional punter.
Like Dickey, Grogan went on to find considerable success in the NFL. Drafted in 1975 by the New England Patriots, he spent his entire career with the team before retiring in 1990. He finished with a passer rating of 70 and threw for 26,886 yards while rushing for 2,176. He threw for 182 touchdowns while running for an additional 36 during that span. The passing yardage and touchdown numbers were franchise records when he retired.
Grogan was one of the toughest players to play the game, and played with more screws, chipped bones, and dislocated body parts than entire teams do. Among the most notable:
- In 1980 he had spring surgery on his knee, but managed to sprain both within a week of each other when the season started in September. He still played 12 games.
- In 1981 he injured his neck and missed four games, came back and was lost to a season-ending knee injury (he would have five knee surgeries over the course of his career).
- In 1983 he broke his leg, but not before leading the league in QB rating.
- In 1985 he both broke his leg and damaged the medial collateral ligament midway through the season. He came back to play in the Super Bowl.
This list could go on, as he played 1.5 seasons with a ruptured disc in his neck and even played with a broken left hand. If ever there was an old school player, it was Steve Grogan. Like Dickey, his alma mater named the high school football field after him and he was a bright spot in an otherwise dreary era of K-State football. And that’s why the number 11 jersey is the only number retired by the Wildcats.