The Dallas Cowboys announced that former offensive lineman Ralph Neely passed away at the age of 78. Neely played his entire 13-year career (1965-1977) with Dallas and won two championships with the team, protecting Dandy Don Meredith, Craig Morton, and the great Roger Staubach.
During his time in the NFL, Neely earned all-rookie honors, had three first-team All-Pro awards, and was named to the Pro Bowl roster twice. He ranks 11th in the team’s history for most games started with 168. There were only four games in his career that he didn’t start in.
Neely was one of the best offensive linemen in the organization’s history. He was also an integral part of the Super Bowl win over the Denver Broncos, which happened to be the last game of his NFL career.
This sad news comes within a week of the passing of both NFL legend John Madden and former Cowboys RB Dan Reeves.
Dallas Cowboys announce that former All-Pro lineman Ralph Neely passed away at 78
Neely was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, and played college football for the University of Oklahoma. He was drafted in the second round of both the 1965 NFL Draft (Baltimore Colts) and the 1965 AFL Draft (Houston Oilers). The Colts ended up trading him to the Cowboys, and after talks with Dallas, he returned his check to the Oilers.
In addition to his All-Pro, Pro Bowl, and Super Bowl achievements, Neely was a two-time All-Big Eight team member, a Consensus All-American in 1964, and a member of the NFL 1960s All-Decade Team.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Neely family, and we know his legacy will be well-remembered in the Cowboys organization. Certainly, he’s earned a posthumous look from Canton, although the gesture always feels a bit hollow when it comes after a player’s passing.
At the very least, this has hopefully allowed us all to reevaluate Neely’s Dallas legacy.