As the National Football League overtook baseball during the 1970’s, the Dallas Cowboys were arguably the most visible team. They appeared in Super Bowls and seemed like they were on Monday Night Football every other week. The star that shined on that Texas Stadium stage the brightest was easily Tony Dorsett.
From 1977-1988, Dorsett ran for 12,739 yards or 527 more than the legendary Jim Brown. At the time, Browns’s mark was the standard every good running back was judged by. However Dorsett was a different type of runner. No back in NFL history broke so many breath-taking big runs. He was quick to the hole and once he broke into the open, he was gone.
The mere mention of his name and everyone pictures his 99 yard record-breaking run against Minnesota. Yet The Chancellor of Football contends the 84 yard bomb he dropped on the Philadelphia Eagles his rookie year was his best. It’s the first touchdown of this clip where Herman Edwards described how difficult it was to catch him. How apropos since he was the Eagle #46 that trailed him on the play.
Amazingly, he never led the NFL in rushing or rushing touchdowns. Of his 8 -1,000 yard seasons, his best was 1,646 in 1981 when he led the Cowboys to their 2nd straight NFC championship appearance. In that season he only rushed for 4 touchdowns. A closer look career-wise, he scored 72 during his 11 years with the Cowboys. Compare that to 58 by Emmitt Smith in the years 1994-1996. Smith was the battering ram for his team scoring many times from in close. Dorsett was the shot fired from the Cowboys long-range offensive rifle. You didn’t know when he’d explode into the secondary.
Never was this more evident than on Monday Night Football where TD had been the most prolific scorer in its first 20 years.
Ironically TD said in the first video that he was probably taken for granted during his career. Our CEO definitely doesn’t see it that way. He overshadowed the late Walter Payton up until he was about to become the NFL’s all time leading rusher. Playing for such a high-profile team in the Dallas Cowboys gave him great platforms from which to perform. All of those Cowboys playoff games and Super Bowls. Therefore raising his profile.
From winning the Heisman Trophy at Pitt to becoming a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Tony Dorsett was one of the best running backs in NFL history.
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