Dick Lucas was a three-sport star for South Boston High School in the early 1950s. He had enough talent to have a choice of pursuing football, basketball, or baseball at the college level. Though he dabbled in baseball for two years, he committed fully to football.
“I like the contact,” he told the Boston Globe in 1952. Asked why he preferred being on the line of scrimmage, he said, “You can do more things at [tight] end.... And there’s more contact.”
Dick Lucas was a throwback. He wasn’t old school, he was Old Testament. He went from high school to college to the Marines to an unlikely spot on the 1960 Eagles championship team before settling down and raising a family in West Chester.
Mr. Lucas, 86, died from COVID-19 on Wednesday, April 29.
When told of his father’s affinity for physical play, Brian Lucas chuckled. “I can believe that,” he said.
Mr. Lucas played four years at Boston College, where he won the Eddie O’Melia Award for being the MVP of the 1955 game against rival Holy Cross. It was a coveted honor and came with a ring and plaque.
Mr. Lucas was drafted by the Chicago Bears in 1956, but instead served a two-year hitch with the Marine Corps. He was a first lieutenant when discharged.
The Eagles acquired Mr. Lucas in a trade the week before the 1960 season began. It was a routine NFL transaction that would change his life.
The Eagles already had Bobby Walston at tight end, so Mr. Lucas played mostly on special teams that championship season. When he did play offense, he stayed in to block, reveling in all that contact.
Brian Lucas said his father wasn’t much of a storyteller, but as he got older the vault would occasionally creep open.
In 2017, Carson Wentz’s 33rd touchdown pass broke the Eagles’ single-season record that had been set in 1961.
“I knew nothing about that when Wentz was about to break the record,” Brian Lucas said. “I figured it was held by Cunningham or Jaworski or McNabb. No. It was 1961, held by Sonny Jurgensen.”
And it was his father who caught No. 32.
“I guess as you get older and you feel mortal, you want your story out there a little more,” Brian Lucas said. “I’ve learned more in the last few years than I did as a teenager.”
It was common for players to hold second jobs in that era, and Mr. Lucas worked in sales for a local oil company. He was married to Barbara Dunn Lucas for 59 years. The couple settled in West Chester and had three children, Brian, Karen, and Andrea. He also is survived by four granddaughters.
Mr. Lucas was a past president of the Eagles alumni association, which opened plenty of doors for his family to peek into a unique fraternity. Brian Lucas still recalls the elevator ride in which tight end John Spagnola made a fuss over his dad.
“Being in that club is really something,” Brian said. “We used to go to Lehigh for training camp, and all of the players showed nothing but respect. I’m jealous that I was never part of it.”
The Lucases were longtime Eagles season ticket holders, from the 600 level at Veterans Stadium to Section 105 at Lincoln Financial Field. Mr. Lucas was at every home game last season except one, and watched the Eagles win the Super Bowl two years ago from the assisted-care facility in Chestnut Hill where he lived.
“I remember he once told me, ‘We might not have had the best players,’ in 1960,” Hall of Fame sportswriter Ray Didinger recalled. "'But we had the best team.’”