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December 4, 2018

“IT’S A LITTLE SURREAL”

CALGARY, AB - AUGUST 4, 2018: The Calgary Stampeders won 27-18 against the BC Lions at McMahon Stadium on Saturday night. (Angela Burger/Calgary Stampeders)

A tour of the Saturday Night Live set in NBC Studios at the famous 30 Rock. Tickets for he and the family to see Mean Girls, the Musical, at the August Wilson Theatre.

“I’d also like to see The Lion King or Hamilton,” confesses Dave Dickenson. “Something a little different.”

As far as marquees along Broadway go these days, none could match the cast of inductees into the 2018 College Football Hall of Fame.

The names include, among others, six-time Pro Bowl wideout Calvin Johnson, nine-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl XLV winning DB Charles Woodson, and 17-year NFL QB Kerry Collins.

As well as, of course, the Stampeders’ head coach, over two decades after leaving but still known around the campus of the University of Montana as Super Dave or The Legend of the Fall.

“It’s a little surreal,’’ admits Dickenson, awaiting this evening’s 10-player/three-coach HOF induction banquet at the posh Hilton Hotel, 1335 Avenue of the Americas, in midtown Manhattan. “It really is. I was around the guys today, we did a meet-and-greet type thing, and it was the first time I got to meet a lot of them.

“I feel a little overwhelmed. But they’re all down-to-earth people.

“The guy who was most interested in the CFL was Paul Palmer, a running back at Temple, so I told him I had some connections with Henry (Burris). He knows Derek Dennis, also a Temple alum. Talked to Ed Reed a little more, he’s acquaintances with DeVone (Claybrooks), so you have that kind of connection. I sat next to Kerry Collins, he likes to hunt and fish, which immediately brings you from anywhere to Montana.”

Tonight’s collegiate fete wraps up an amazing run for Dickenson, on the heels of piloting the Stamps to a Grey Cup conquest of the Ottawa Redblacks – his first head-coaching championship – at Commonwealth Stadium a little more than a week ago.

“It’s been a year since I found out about this selection,” he says. “That on-campus thing they had for me in September back in Montana was just awesome. Saw so many old friends, relived so many great memories. It really took me back to what college football is all about.

“And I’m looking forward to the banquet tonight. I’ll just kinda sit back and watch the highlight videos and try to understand that you’re part of such an exclusive club.

“Do I feel like I fit in? Sometimes not so much.

“But I’ve just tried to be me, let these guys have a little space and try to soak in the moment.”

An unassuming nature has always been part of Dickenson’s character. But a quick peek at his collegiate resume at UM is mighty impressive: The I-AA National Championship in 1995, 13,486 career yards passing, the ’95 Walter Payton Award, the retirement of his Grizzlies jersey No. 15, slotted in at 12th all-time among Montana athletes by Sports Illustrated and a nod as the top male athlete in the history of the Big Sky Conference.

The whole New York experience has been a blast.

“I come from a state with less than a million people,’’ Dickenson muses. “You live in Calgary and you think it’s big. Then you come to New York … The crowd on the street, all the people, makes you feel like you’re stuck in an ant hill.

“Been a good experience so far, though. Weather’s good. Family’s here. Enjoying some things we’ve never seen about New York.”

Following tonight’s soiree at the Hilton, the Dickenson family will stick around the City That Never Sleeps for a week or so, decompressing a bit, playing tourist and seeing the sights.

“You know,” he says, “it’s been a whirlwind, these last two weeks. So it’s great to be here with the family, mom and dad and brother Craig. We’ve already done a lot of walking.

“We’ll enjoy the banquet tonight and then start moving forward.

“Gotta admit, looking forward to a little down time, though.”

He’s certainly earned it.