A true legend of the gridiron passed away last week, as Texas Tech Football Ring of Honor Inductee Dave Parks passed at the age of 77. Parks left a legacy of toughness and determination behind as a Red Raider and a professional football player.
Parks was a revelation as a wide receiver at Texas Tech. Playing under Head Coach J.T. King, parks left the school with numerous records and in an era where running the ball was the majority of your offense, Parks gave Texas Tech a threat receiving the ball as well. In his first of three seasons playing, Parks caught 16 balls for 209 yards and a touchdown. Although this doesn’t seem like a great season now, back in the early 1960s, those were very solid numbers.
In his final two years as a Red Raider, he went on to break almost all of the receiving record to date for a Red Raider. He hauled in 32 catches for 399 yards and touchdown in his junior season, garnering him an All-Southwest Conference honors in that season. He came back stronger in his senior season catching the same amount of ball but upping his yardage to 499 and touchdowns to 4 on the season. Again, this doesn’t seem like a big number, but it did earn him an All-American Honor. (This video below shows Parks scoring a last second touchdown versus Texas A&M.)
In an era where most players played both side of the ball, Parks also has the school record for the longest interception return with a 98 yard interception return for a touchdown. Upon leaving Texas Tech, he caught the eye of many teams, including the San Francisco 49ers that took him with the first overall pick in the 1964 NFL Draft. Parks is still the only Red Raider to be taken with the first overall pick in any professional football draft.
Parks made an immediate impact on the NFL, being an All-Pro wide receiver in 1965 and 1966 and making the Pro Bowl in 1967 as well as 1965 and 1966. 1965 was especially a great year for Parks as he led the NFL with 80 receptions, 1,344 yards, and 12 touchdowns. These all were very unprecedented numbers for a receiver in this era of football where the majority of the offense was still run through a running back and fullback.
Parks finished with over 5,600 yards and 44 touchdowns on his career. His absence in the NFL Hall of Fame is something almost as shameful as not having other Red Raider Ring of Honor member Zach Thomas in the Hall of Fame. I sincerely hope that the Hall of Fame Committee consider placing Parks in the Hall of Fame posthumously.
Let us all remember Dave Parks, a Red Raider through and through, a legend for the remainder of history. May he Rest In Peace.