Dial was drafted in the second round of the 1959 NFL Draft by the New York Giants, but was cut by the team before the season started. He signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he became a star after being teamed with quarterback Bobby Layne. He held the team record for touchdown receptions in a season and was an All-Pro three times. While playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Dial recorded an album of inspirational songs called Buddy Dial Sings on Word Records.
In 1964, the Pittsburgh Steelers traded him to the Dallas Cowboys, in exchange for the rights of their first round draft choice Scott Appleton. However, Appleton ended up signing with the Houston Oilers of the AFL, who had also drafted him in the first round. The transaction became known as the "Buddy Dial for Nothing" trade. His three-year career with the Dallas Cowboys was a disappointment, where injuries and addictions to prescription drugs, limited his playing time. In 1966, while still assigned to the Dallas Cowboys, Buddy Dial recorded a single with Challenge Records 59352, called Baby/Back In The Old Days. Baby became a huge hit in various regional areas, topping the Dallas radio charts in 1966-1967, but failed to make the national charts.
Dial finished his career with 261 receptions for 5,436 yards, and 44 touchdowns, and 14 yards on four rushes. He was selected to the Pro Bowl twice, in 1961 and 1963 and inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1993. Injuries during his NFL career led to significant health problems brought on by the abuse of painkilling drugs, before receiving treatment in the late 1980s. He died on February 29, 2008 at the age of 71, of complications with cancer and pneumonia.
NoteBuddy Dial's grave is presently unmarked. It is located between the graves of Gene Ray Austin and Theresa Elizabeth Moody.
30° 08.256, -095° 39.507
Klein Memorial Park