Dick Evey, a letterman on the Tennessee football and track teams from 1961-63, died Thursday at the Ben Atchley State Veterans Home after a debilitating illness. He was 72.
Mr. Evey came to Tennessee as a highly recruited athlete from Springfield, Ohio, and played under coaches Bowden Wyatt and Jim McDonald. A tackle, Mr. Evey wore No. 75 on his orange and white jersey and played at 6-4, 235.
“Woody Hayes always said that Dick Evey was one of the best high school players he had ever tried to recruit,” said good friend Larry Johnston, a leader of the Tennessee freshman team in 1967 who suffered a career-ending knee injury before his sophomore season in 1968.
Mr. Evey was one of the first recipients of The 88 Plan, the fund administered by the National Football League honoring the late John Mackey of the Baltimore Colts, according to his daughter Kristi Satterfield.
The 88 Plan provides former players with up to $100,000 per year for medical and custodial care resulting from dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, ALS, and/or Parkinson’s disease.
“I think it’s been nothing but an extremely positive experience for our family,” Satterfield said. “We are forever grateful and so thankful to the NFL. The 88 Plan made the very best out of a very bad situation.”
Former News Sentinel sports editor Marvin West related that Mr. Evey was the school recordholder in the shot put in 1963 at 50 feet, 2 1/2 inches. He placed fifth in the SEC outdoors in Chuck Rohe’s first season.
Jerry Holloway, a mid-1960s offensive lineman at UT, remembered Mr. Evey “visiting spring practice in 1966, 1967, and 1968, demonstrating defensive line maneuvers, including his powerful head slap with those ‘huge hands.’ ”
When asked what he remembered about Mr. Evey’s football abilities, one word sufficed: “Wow!”
After leaving Tennessee, Mr. Evey played in the 1963 Blue-Gray Game and the 1964 College All-Star Game.
He was a first round selection of the Chicago Bears in the 1964 NFL draft at No. 14. The same year, he was a second round selection by the AFL Buffalo Bills.
He played for the Bears from 1964-69, the Los Angeles Rams in 1970, and the Detroit Lions in 1971.
After his football career ended, he was a land developer in Blount County, involved in the restoration of Historic Perry’s Mill, a working grist mill with plans for a restaurant in Walland in the 1980s.
“That was his passion, his obsession,” Johnston said Thursday. “He always wanted to own a restaurant. He sunk heart, soul and money into it. When it burned down, it really took the wind out of his sails.”
A “Celebration of Life” service will held on June 5, at Smithview Pavilion, 601 Smithview Drive in Maryville, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., with a brief service to follow, Dr. Jerry Russell officiating.