When Dennis Georgatos thinks about Rick Kane, he remembers the best football player to ever come out of Amador Valley High School -- and possibly the most underappreciated.
"That's not surprising because Rick was never one to wear his stardom on his sleeve," Georgatos, who was a right guard on the Amador team, said.
Richard James Kane, 55, died on Christmas morning in his Reno home from complications of pneumonia, his family said.
Born Nov. 12, 1954 in Lincoln, Neb., Kane moved to Pleasanton at age 12 and a couple short years later, became a rising star on Amador's football squad. A 1973 graduate, Kane was a standout as a running back during his four high school years, Georgatos said.
"He was always one of us, whether he was running on the field with us or running around with us off the field," he said. "Rick was as quick as anyone with a helping hand or encouraging word."
After high school, Kane went on to meet more success as a running back for the University of Oregon. At Oregon, he earned the Len Casanova Award for Rookie of the Year in 1973, according to his family. He transferred to San Jose State University as a junior, where he would go on to rush for a school record of 1,143 yards.
Outside of Pleasanton, his name became more well-known as he was a third round draft pick in 1977 for the National Football League. He would go on to play for the Detroit Lions from 1977-1983 and for the Washington Redskins from 1983-1984.
After nine years, Kane ended his football career and subsequently moved to Reno, Nevada, where he began a 25-year career in car sales. Sixteen of those years he spent as sales manager of Reno Jeep Chrysler and the past four years at Scott Motor Co., also serving in sales.
In 2005, he lost his leg in a traffic accident. A 17-year-old girl, distracted by her cell phone, crashed into his motorcycle, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal. Kane made the most of the situation by starting a support group for amputees, the Journal stated.
Kane is survived by his wife of 13 years, Dianne; sons, Ryan, Sean and John; daughter, Kelly; and mother, Anne Kane. Services were planned for this morning at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Reno. Burial was to follow at Mountain View Cemetery in Reno.