Bulldog legend Dale Messer passes away at 86

Messer led an All-American career with the Bulldogs before moving on to the NFL.

Former Fresno State Football great Dale Messer passed away on Tuesday at the age of 86. 

Bulldog fans who didn’t get to watch Messer play in the late 1950s and early 1960s know Messer as one of only nine players to have their jersey retired at Valley Children’s Stadium. 


In memoriam: Messer wore No. 21 for the Bulldogs and was the first player in program history to be honored with a jersey retirement. 

  • The Lemoore native played running back for the ‘Dogs and was named an All-American twice before graduating in 1961. 
  • Following his collegiate career, Messer went on to play five years for the San Francisco 49ers. 
  • Messer was also inducted into the Fresno County Sports Hall of Fame in 1969 and is in the hall of fame at the College of the Sequoias. 
  • The only Bulldog to wear No. 21 since Messer’s jersey was retired was running back Ryan Mathews in 2007. 

What they’re saying: “It is a sad day to lose such a great Bulldog and a great representative of the Fresno State football program,” said Head Coach Jeff Tedford. “Dale embodied everything that is Fresno State Football, and his accomplishments and legacy will be remembered in our program forever.” 

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