HBCU Athlete Profile: Richard Dent, Tennessee State University

On this edition of HBCU Athlete Profile,  we highlight former NFL defensive end Richard Dent who attended Tennessee State University.

Richard Dent played for the Tennessee State Tigers football team from 1979-1982 coached by Hall of Fame coach John Merritt. The team held an overall record of 35-6-1 winning two Black National Championships.

The Tigers made it to the I-AA Championship tournament in Dent’s final two seasons in 1981 and 1982 including a win in the Semifinal round in the 1982 playoffs giving the Tigers their first of three playoff wins in school history.

In 1993, Richard Dent was inducted into the Tennessee State Hall of Fame and was inducted into the Black College Hall of Fame in 2015.

Richard Dent played 15 seasons in the NFL from 1983-1997 spending his first 11 years and 12 of his first 13 with the Chicago Bears. He was named to four Pro Bowls and was named a first team All-Pro once (1985).

As a result of recording 17.5 sacks in his second season and 17.0 in his third season, Richard Dent is one of only four players to have back to back season recording at least 17 sacks (J.J. Watt, Mark Gastineau, Reggie White). He would record 10+ sacks in eight seasons including five straight seasons from 1984-1988.

In the 1985 season, Richard Dent and the Chicago Bears finished the season with a 15-1 record on the back of what is arguably the best defensive team of all-time. Dent led the NFL that season with 17.0 sacks and seven forced fumbles while also being one of only five defensive lineman to record a pick six.

The Bears allowed just 10 points in three playoff games including shutouts in the Divisional Round and NFC Championship game against the New York Giants and Los Angeles Rams respectively on their way to their first Super Bowl appearance in franchise history.

In Super Bowl XX, the Bears went on to beat the New England Patriots 46-10. The 46 points scored by the Bears set a then Super Bowl record for points scored and margin of victory (both broken by the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XXIV).

Richard Dent recorded 1.5 sacks and two forced fumbles on his way to being named MVP of the Super Bowl. This makes him the first player that attended an HBCU to be named Super Bowl MVP (Doug Williams would win the award with the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl XXII).

Richard Dent would win one more Super Bowl in the 1994 season with the San Francisco 49ers. He ended his career ranking 10th all-time in sacks with 137.5 and 11th in forced fumbles with 37.

In 2011, Richard Dent was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and was named one of the top 100 Chicago Bears players of all-time in 2019.


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