James Dearth- a Tarleton legend
Samuel Tucker– Sports Writer
James Dearth came to Tarleton in 1996 after leaving the University of Tulsa to marry his wife. In his time as a Texan he was able to snag 77 receptions for 992 yards and nine touchdowns, according to Tarleton Sports. Tarleton left the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) in 1994 to join the Lonestar Conference (LSC) in Division II of the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA). Until Dearth, Tarleton had yet to produce an NCAA All-American. Dearth was named to the NCAA Division II All-American team and received first team All-LSC South Division honors in both 1997 and 1998. In 1998, Dearth received the LSC Offensive Lineman of the Year award.
Dearth did not know he was the first NCAA All-American for Tarleton.
“The thing I wanted to do was be the best player I could possibly be, and be the best teammate I could possibly be,” Dearth said.
In 1999 Dearth was selected in the sixth round of the National Football League (NFL) draft by the Cleveland Browns.
Dearth was shocked when the Browns called to say they were going to draft him.
“I didn’t have words,” Dearth said.
The Browns brought Dearth in to compete for the tight end spot, and also made him into a deep snapper. The Browns eventually cut Dearth. He went on to talk with the Tennessee Titans and was fairly set on going to Nashville when his agent talked him into taking a meeting with the New York Jets, a meeting which Dearth said he went into rather skeptically.
“New York was a little too big for me…I told my wife…I just don’t think that’s [going to] happen,” Dearth said. “Just meeting [Herm Edwards]…I said a quick prayer…and I just felt like that’s where I needed to be.”
His feelings were proved right when he signed an eight-year contract with the Jets, the longest in NFL history to that point.
“The biggest thing for me was stability. I’m not a money guy,” Dearth said.
In his time with the Jets, Dearth played in every game from 2001 until 2009.
After his eight-year contract was up following the 2009 season, the Jets decided not to resign Dearth. The Washington Redskins signed and cut him in Aug. of 2010. After that it was off to the San Diego Chargers for Dearth where he would injure his foot in Sept. of 2010 before being able to play a game for the Chargers. Then, in 2011, in the span of a week, the New England Patriots signed and cut Dearth. Dearth made the decision to retire.
Dearth was inducted into the Tarleton State University Athletics Hall of Fame in 2012. His face is one of six on the newly renovated Memorial Stadium.
“I am overwhelmed and grateful to have been honored by Tarleton State University in this way,” Dearth said. “I would have never dreamed to have been recognized in such a manner that Tarleton would put my picture on the stadium! I am very proud to call Tarleton State University my family and my home and also representing them in wearing the purple and the white.”