The excitement of the opening of Dallas Cowboys training camp and the anticipation for the coming season was put on hold last week as Cowboys past and present, as well as fans, took time out to remember one of the best loved players of Tom Landry‘s golden era. Former Cowboys fullback Robert Newhouse passed away July 22 at the age of 64.
Those fans who are old enough to remember the Landry years are no-doubt familiar with Newhouse, who was known for his exceptional leg strength and even called a “human bowling ball” in an endearing way because he was so low to the ground that would-be tacklers found it nearly impossible to bring him down. Ironically, his most famous play turned out to be his touchdown pass to wide receiver Golden Richards in Super Bowl XII to put the Denver Broncos on ice and give Landry his last NFL championship.
When Newhouse wore the silver and blue, the Twitterverse had yet to be imagined and there was no constant barage of news from the Internet and ESPN. Somehow, fans still felt an affinity for their favorite players without knowing where they had dinner the night before the game or what they did during the off season. There were only brief glimpses into players’ personal lives that came with segments on Sunday afternoon pregame shows and post game interviews. Comparing that time with the present, though, the bond between players and fans was forged stronger than it is today.
As was common before the chaos of free agency, Newhouse played for the Cowboys for the duration of his career, which spanned from 1972 to 1983. He was lauded for his humor, unselfishness and humility by those who knew him best after his death. For this Cowboys’ fan, Newhouse will be remembered as part of what I consider to be the best era of Cowobys football. Back then it wasn’t taking a leap of faith to buy the jersey baring the name of your favorite player because that person might leave before any memories could be attached to it. Having a contest with my Pittsburgh Steelers buddy in study hall to see who could write the names and numbers of our favorite team down first wasn’t much of a challenge because it stayed the same year after year.
That’s not to say that the Landry years before the seventies and the glory years of the 1990s aren’t special in their own right. That group, though, from the Roger Staubach to Drew Pearson connection, to the Doomsday Defense led by Super Bowl co-MVPs Harvey Martin and Randy White is hard to beat in terms of the cast of characters and the memorable moments they created. It doesn’t hurt that arguably the most iconic play in Cowboys history, the Hail Mary, came in that time span, either.
The rivalry with the Washington Redskins was at an all time high and the Cowboys had some miraculous comeback wins over the ‘Skins during Newhouse’s years in Big D. Most notably was, of course, the improbable Thanksgiving Day victory that came with Staubach on the sidelines and rookie Clint Longley at the helm. His 50-yard pass to Drew Pearson left the Texas Stadium crowd in a frenzy and Washington Coach George Allen speechless for once. Newhouse had perhaps his more memorable moment against the Redskins late in his career when he broke through a group of Washington defenders, sans his helmet and chin strap on November 23, 1980 in old Texas Stadium.
Now Newhouse has joined Coach Landry, Harvey Martin and Bob Hayes as part of a Cowboys huddle that has assembled beyond the pearly gates. May they have many a happy Sunday with God watching his favorite team play and may they rest in peace.