Richard Lee "Dicky" Maegle
September 14, 1934 – July 4, 2021
Richard Lee “Dicky” Maegle, the former Rice All-America who was one of the best football players the state of Texas ever produced, died on Sunday, the 4th of July 2021, at age 86, at his home in Katy. Maegle, who had been battling Alzheimer’s, suffered a fall several months ago and his health began declining, according to his wife Carol.
Born on the 14th of September 1934 in Taylor, Texas, northeast of Austin, Dicky Maegle accepted a football scholarship to Rice in 1951 and embarked on an extraordinary trip as a legendary, record-setting Owls running back who went on to play seven seasons in the NFL as a defensive back after being a first-round draft pick, and then became a successful Houston businessman for 28 years, managing the Tideland and Tides II hotels in the Rice/Texas Medical Center area. Maegle booked entertainers for one of Houston’s top entertainment venues, the Tidelands Club, and comedian Bob Newhart even recorded one of his first albums at the Tidelands Club in the early 1960s. Maegle also was an analyst on Houston Oilers broadcasts.
In 1962 after retiring from the NFL, Maegle had the spelling of his last name legally changed from Moegle to the phonetically-easier to pronounce Maegle. Dicky’s older brother by 14 months, Bobby Moegle, the longtime high school baseball coach at Lubbock Monterey who retired in 1999 as the winningest high school baseball coach in the country, kept the original spelling of the family name. Growing up in Taylor, Bobby Moegle once said, “we did everything together. I got the strength and he got the speed. He (Dicky) could always run. I could always throw hard.”
Beyond Houston and, to an extent, the state, Dicky Maegle often was remembered for being an unwitting participant in one of college football’s most bizarre plays. In the 1954 Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Maegle and his Southwest Conference co-champion Owls hammered Alabama, quarterbacked by Bart Starr, 28-6. With Rice leading 7-6 in the second quarter, an Alabama player standing near the Crimson Tide’s bench, fullback and co-captain Tommy Lewis, who sheepishly explained that he was just “full of Alabama,” illegally and suddenly came onto the field several steps and tackled Maegle as he was on his way up the sideline on a 95-yard touchdown run. Maegle, sprawled on the field momentarily, was awarded the touchdown anyway by the officials. He had two other TD runs of 79 and 34 yards against the Tide that afternoon. “It really was incredible that I was not hurt worse,” said Maegle. “It just blindsided me. You never would expect something like that.”
Because it was a New Year’s Day bowl game, of course, the strange off-the-bench tackle received national attention. Ed Sullivan had both Lewis, who died in 2014, and Maegle flown to New York a day before their appearance on the popular Sunday night Ed Sullivan Show on CBS. Sullivan told Maegle and Lewis they had been booked to spend the night in the same room at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. In an interview with the Houston Chronicle in 2013, Maegle said he told Sullivan, “Mr. Sullivan, did you say a room? He said, ‘yes’ and I said, ‘Look, this guy just tackled me in front of 50 million people. What if he has a nightmare in the middle of the night and tries to throw me out a window?’
“Ed Sullivan said, ‘I see your point, son’ and told somebody, ‘Get this boy another room on another floor.’ And I slept well that night.” Subsequently, Dicky spent many days the rest of his life being asked questions about that one play from his entire football career. “Sure, I got tired of talking about it, who wouldn’t?” Maegle admitted. “But I never wanted to be rude, and besides, people were just curious about the details – they had good intentions. It just got old. People never quit asking. But, look, that was part of my life and I understood that. I enjoyed talking to people.”
Lost in all the national obsession with the black-and-while TV footage of that one play was Dicky Maegle’s grand body of work, including one of the greatest bowl performances in history in that very Cotton Bowl game. He is a member of four Halls of Fame. Besides the College Football Hall of Fame, where he was inducted in 1979, Maegle was voted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in Waco, the Rice Athletics Hall of Fame and the Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame.
His 265 yards rushing on just 11 carries in that Cotton Bowl trouncing of Alabama stood as the Cotton Bowl record until Missouri’s Tony Temple broke it in 2008 with 281 rushing yards. Maegle’s 265-yard effort remains Rice’s single-game rushing record after all these decades, and his 24.1 yards per carry average against ‘Bama remains the highest average for any player in a bowl game having at least nine carries.
Maegle and his Rice teammates like All-America halfback Kosse Johnson and All-SWC guard Kenny Paul helped continue a great period of success for Rice football under its winningest all-time coach, the legendary Jess Neely. The Owls were 21-10 in Maegle’s days from 1952-54, including tying for the SWC title in ’53 after going 5-5 in ‘52. Maegle came to Rice in 1951 as a 16-year-old freshman who played both football and basketball for the Owls’ freshman team (freshmen could not play varsity in those days). Dicky was hampered by an injury as a sophomore in 1952, but his next two seasons were truly remarkable and set him up for pro football.
A two-way player for Neely, the 6-foot, 195-pound Maegle was one of the best offensive players in college football as a junior in 1953, leading the nation with a 7.3 yards per carry average on 833 yards rushing. The Owls finished No. 6 in the country in both the AP and UPI polls after beating SEC champ ‘Bama and ending the season 9-2. In 1954, Maegle was a consensus All-America, rushing for 905 yards and was college football’s leading punt returner, as Rice was 7-3 overall and tied for third in the SWC. He finished his college career setting 26 school records at the time. He still holds Rice records for yards rushing in a game (265) and yards per carry in a season (7.3) and career (6.6). He also was proud of the fact that he was an Academic All-America at Rice in ‘54.
Maegle was the 10th overall pick in the 1955 NFL draft by San Francisco and played five years (1955-59) for the 49ers, making the Pro Bowl with six interceptions as a 20-year-old rookie defensive back in ’55. In 1956, he again intercepted six passes and followed up with 8 more picks in 1957. He injured his knee in 1958 and only played in eight games.
Prior to the 1960 season, Maegle was traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers in exchange for a first-round draft pick. In 1960, Maegle intercepted six passes for the Steelers, including three in one game.
Then he was dealt to the Dallas Cowboys before the 1961 season, which was only the second year of the Cowboys’ existence. Maegle started all 14 games for Tom Landry’s 4-9-1 team, grabbing two interceptions (one returned for 25 yards) and recovering one fumble. But at the end of the ’61 season he needed surgery on his right foot. On July 30, 1962, the Cowboys waived him after he reinjured his foot in training camp, triggering his retirement from football. In 73 career NFL games, Maegle logged 28 interceptions.
Ironically, the last football game Maegle played in his home state of Texas was for those ’61 Cowboys on December 3 against the Cleveland Browns, and on the same field at the Cotton Bowl where almost eight years earlier Maegle had put himself in the bowl record book.
Dicky Maegle was not only known and respected as a football legend in Texas, but as someone who graciously always made time for people, whether they saw him at a store, bank, restaurant, anywhere. Once, about 10 years ago at Cleburne Cafeteria in Houston, Maegle told a Houston sportswriter/friend a number of funny stories from his playing days, but also one about how he might have set an all-time single-game SWC rushing record.
“We were beating Arkansas pretty handily one year and I already had about 190 yards rushing by halftime,” Maegle told the writer. “I felt because they (Razorbacks) were worn down defensively by halftime, I had another 200 or so yards in me. But coach Neely wanted to start playing the backups and I didn’t play in the second half, or I think I could have gone for 400 yards in that game. Hey, it was OK, because we won and we had really, really good teams at Rice. I had great teammates. I had a great time playing football and being in business all those years here in Houston. Pretty good for a boy from Taylor, Texas. What a wonderful experience playing at Rice. I enjoyed every bit of it.”
Richard is predeceased by his parents, Otto and Margaret Maegle. He is survived by his loving wife Carol Maegle of Tulsa, Oklahoma; Richard’s sons and daughter, Lance Maegle of Houston, Dane Maegle of Tomball, Kimberly Newton and her husband Bob of Midland; his grandchildren, Bradley Newton and his wife Tara of Lubbock, and Kevin Newton and his wife Paige of Midland, Jeffrey Newton also of Midland, Slainey and Annie Newton of Lubbock, Jack and Cole Newton of Midland; his brother, Bob Moegle and his wife Carolyn of Lubbock; and his nieces, Sherri Hull and her husband David of Austin and their sons Ryan and Tyler, Melinda Heinrich and her husband Craig of Lubbock and their children Emily and Holt.
He is also survived by Carol’s son and daughter, Brett Barrett of Tulsa and his wife Athena of Baytown, and Kristi Trent and her husband Jamie of Tulsa; and her grandchildren, David Barrett of Fort Walton Beach, Florida, and Kelsey Kirk of Oklahoma City.
A memorial service and celebration of his life is to conducted at two o'clock in the afternoon on Monday, the 12th of July, in the Jasek Chapel of Geo. H. Lewis & Sons, 1010 Bering Drive in Houston. For those unable to attend the service, virtual attendance may be accessed by selecting the "Join Livestream" icon located in the service information below. There, memories and words of comfort and condolence may be shared electronically with his family.
Immediately following, all are invited to greet the family and share memories during a reception in the adjacent grand foyer.
Celebration of Life
Monday, July 12, 2021
Richard Lee "Dicky" Maegle
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July 12, 2021
My father Herbert Brown worked for Mr. Maegle for 20+ years as the Tidelands` Concierge . I also had the opportunity to work at the hotel during college from 1970 to 1975 as a bellman and desk clerk. I will always remember Mr. Maegle as a kind person who mentored me and instilled in me what it meant to be a gentleman. During my first week working at the hotel Mr. Maegle handed me the keys to his Continental convertible and sent me downtown to collect the hotel owner Morin Scott. As a teenager I felt I was on top of the world. What a great time I had during those five years and when I left, I felt like I was leaving a family behind. My sincere condolences to the family.
July 12, 2021
Ms. Carol and family It was a joy and privilege to have met and spent time with Mr. 47. I share in your solitude of his loss. I pray you find peace and joy in his memory. May God bless and keep you. Alice Traina
July 12, 2021
My father, Charles Easter, played at Rice, also under Jess Neely, in 1946 after he came home from the Second World War. He settled with my mother in Caldwell, TX to take over my maternal grandfather's clothing business; he also went into football officiating. Evidently Dickey made quite the display in about 1949 or so with a game in Caldwell versus Taylor. Daddy heard from the townspeople about that and evidently later officiated one of his games and saw what a great player he was. Hoping to help his former coach, he called Neely and said, "Coach, there is a boy in Taylor that you should really check." Well, Neely, in his long southern drawl said something like this: "Charlie, we know about that boy. That boy only weighs 165 pounds." To which my father quickly replied, "Coach, I don't care how much he weighs, they ain't caught him yet." Obviously Neely did check on him, and we all know what happened after that, and what a storied career he had at Rice.
William A ( Bart ) . Goforth II
July 12, 2021
Mr. Maegle was a great football player and representative for Rice Institute and Rice University. Always gracious and proud of Rice. May he rest well.
July 10, 2021
My condolences , Carol! Remember your wedding at Fred Parks’ residence at The Huntington. Seems like just yesterday! Think of you and Dickey often with love.
July 10, 2021
I first met Dicky Maegle about 25 years ago. I would often turn my three kids loose in Rice Stadium during games to explore all the nooks and crannies. After about 45 minutes, they had not returned. One of my friends said that he had seen them up in the R Room seated at Dicky Maegle’s table next to the window, wolfing down the free snacks and soft drinks. When I arrived, they were intently listening to his stories and introduced me to “Mr. Maegle”. The rest of the afternoon they shared with me all his stories, including the Bob Newhart one. Ironically, I had to tell them the story about his illegal tackle in the Alabama game.
July 8, 2021
Home life wasn't easy for me growing up and the Maegle house was my refuge a short three blocks away. Mr. Maegle as I addressed him was always kind to me and he had a way of making me feel special always taking the time to engage me with questions about baseball , school, girls or whatever was going on at the time. He always managed to get a laugh out of me- no matter what! He took the time to know us and cared about all of us who congregated at his Aberdeen home .
When I think about Mr. Maegle I vividly remember him in the lazy boy watching football games on the stacked TV's. his colorful commentaries, the daily vitamin regimen and the big salads Mrs. Maegle made him for lunch. They say behind every great man stands a greater woman and I can't remember Mr. Maegle with out paying homage to Mrs. Maegle who treated me like part of the family and who I loved dearly. I have never forgotten either of you and never will. Thank you both for enriching my life. Rest in peace.
Janie Rinderknect Freeborn
July 7, 2021
My family and the Moegles were neighbors in Taylor. Dickie and his brother Bobby Jim, my brother Junior and myself played many hours of football in our side yard. My football memory of Dickie and football is not of the famous sideline run tackle. It is the chipped tooth I still have from our childhood games.
Janie Rinderknecht Freeborn