BTB Interview: Cowboys Legend Tony Dorsett - "I Think Jason Garrett Will Be The Cowboys Next Head Coach"

Yesterday I had the pleasure of speaking with Dallas Cowboys legend Tony Dorsett. Tony was promoting a contest for Proctor & Gamble. So we discussed that and then had a wide-ranging interview about different Cowboys-related subjects. Dorsett was a great interview, answering everything candidly, and in-depth. Below is the transcription of that interview, starting with his take on the contest (more details at the end of the post), then onto the Cowboys stuff.

Tony Dorsett: Proctor & Gamble are having a contest for families to send a photo in celebrating football. It's for Febreze, the official air-freshener of the NFL, to show fans how to tackle sweat and odor during the football season. The winner wins $10,000, and in this case in Dallas they're donating the check to the Salvation Army on behalf of NFL Play 60, which encourages kids to get 60 minutes of exercise in on a daily basis. To find out more go to facebook.com/takeittothehouse.

Blogging The Boys: Originally it looked like you would be drafted by a bad team until the Cowboys traded up to get you. What was that experience like? Did you have any idea that the Cowboys were going to move up to get you or was it a surprise?

TD: A complete surprise. As a matter of fact about two weeks before the draft, Gil Brandt was in Pittsburgh, on campus. We were talking and I was saying I'm really not looking forward to...you know Seattle had my rights, Tampa Bay had the rights to Ricky Bell, the two expansion teams that were coming into the league. Tampa was going to take Ricky Bell and Seattle had my rights. I was telling Gil I wasn't looking forward to going to Seattle because its an expansion team, it doesn't sound very healthy running behind an expansion line than a more established offensive line, etc. And he was like 'Ah man, don't worry about it, you know what, you'll probably end up with a good team'. I was like 'Yeah, sure Gil'. Unknown to me, I guess they were working on a deal to try and trade for me, and fortunately for me me it worked.

BTB: You went from winning  a national championship in college to winning a Super Bowl in your first year in the NFL. That must have been something else for a young guy, talk about that experience.

TD: Back-to-back like that, at the time I didn't pay much attention to it. But it kind of set me up for failure, I mean, you come off a national championship team at the University of Pittsburgh, a Heisman Trophy, and I go back to the same city, same stadium...that's a little sports trivia... and played for the Super Bowl championship my rookie year and beat Denver. Let me tell you man, that was one hell of a ride. Those back-to-back accomplishments as a team, one with the Pittsburgh Panthers, the other with the Dallas Cowboys, was just phenomenal. I was on cloud nine.

BTB: Give us your take on the famous 99-yard run against the Vikings.

TD: The play got set up by one of my dear friends, Timmy Newsome, by fumbling the kickoff. The ball ended up on, what, the one-inch-yard line? If there's such a thing. Anyway, I was running out on the field thinking okay, you can't get too tricky backed up in your own territory like that. I said I better tighten up my chin strap because I'm going to take a pretty good hit. To my surprise, I shouldn't say to my surprise, but luckily for me I got two great blocks, from Herb Scott our guard and Tom Rafferty my center, they got a trap block and I jumped through a hole between those guys, and I made a couple of linebackers miss at the next level, cutting to my right.

The next thing I know I'm out in the open field with two defenders and Drew Pearson, my wide receiver. I'm watching Drew, and I always used to tell my receivers that all you guys got to do is get in the way, you don't have to knock them down, just get in the way and I'll do the rest. That's what was going on as I was running down the sideline, I'm looking at Drew, it looks like from behind he was tiring, so I decided to make a move. Drew had actually knocked the defender upfield a little more but as I was going down the sideline, getting exhausted, winded a little bit, I figure this guy is going to push me out-of-bounds. I was pretty much ready for him to do it. Fortunately for me he didn't have enough push in his shove, and I was able to stay in bounds and ended up running a record-setting NFL run.

BTB: You were elected to the Hall of Fame in your first year of eligibility, talk about that honor. Did you expect it to happen?

TD: You know, in that first year that I was inducted into the Hall of Fame, I didn't even know I was eligible, to be honest with you. One of the reasons being my last year in football, or on a roster, was in Denver and I was on injured reserve. I tore my knee up in that '89/'90 season, I was a Denver Bronco even though I was on injured reserve, I tore my knee up in training camp so I thought that was a year of me still being in football, I didn't know they counted that as a year of not being in football. I didn't even think I was eligible, I thought it would be in '95, that would be the year I became eligible. 

You never know what's going to happen when people are voting to enshrine somebody in such a prestigious fraternity, I didn't know whether I was going to make it on the first ballot or make it at all because you never know. I thought that my numbers stacked up well-enough to get me in the Hall of Fame, but I've seen guys who have had great numbers and not be in the Hall of Fame. It wasn't something I was spending a whole lot of time thinking about but if it came to me, obviously, it's a great honor, a great achievement, and it's something my family and grand-children can see. In fact, it's football heaven, I'm enshrined for life, they can see me as a youngster, what I used to do. What a final piece to a puzzle, my friend.

BTB: Do you think the Cowboys of the 70's are under-represented in the HoF?

TD: No question in my mind we are, I look at some of the numbers, some of the wide receivers in there, and then I look at Drew Pearson, we called him Mr. Clutch, when a guy has made some of the big catches he has made for this team in big games, You look at some of our defensive linemen, we've had some great players, to win the way we won, I think we're missing some guys in the Hall.

BTB: What are your memories of the Cowboys - Redskins rivalry in the 70s/80s?

TD: Back in that time, Washington - Dallas was huge. It was a rivalry that just wasn't watched by the two particular cities, this was something the whole nation wanted to know the score of, wanted to watch. I can remember a as rookie, and Redskins week comes around, the whole attitude of everybody changed. The front-office, the coaching staff, the trainers, the veteran players, I mean it was just completely different. Everybody was real serious.

It was such a psyche that we had, and George Allen had on our team, that we couldn't leave our playbooks in our cars, we were afraid Allen may have somebody come up and steal our playbook or something. We were at the old practice field at that time and they would have all the scouts walking the floors, to make sure nobody was there, you could see over the fence at the higher floors of the hotel, they made sure nobody was filming our practices. It was just real serious. The game itself, it became more and more intense as the years went by because all the components stayed in place, there was no free-agency back then, so we were all there, we played year after year after year. Starting to dislike each other more and more, so it made or great drama. I'm sure the fans really enjoyed watching those games because they were some classics. We loved playing them, trust me.

BTB: In your day, most teams featured one back. Today, it's mostly running back-by-committee. What changed?

TD: I don't know, I don't get it. I don't like it. If I was a player I wouldn't want it. I feel that as a runner, they get stronger as the game gets later. You get a better feel, you get in a better rhythm, you get to see how defenses are reacting to certain formations, and you get a better feel for what you want to do on a particular play. That's hard to get when you're in-and-out of a game. Sometimes you get to the sideline and if someone else has a good groove they're going to keep him in the game, so you're getting stiff. I don't like it, but some teams are having success with it, so be it. It's just like the trends in the NFL, like when Chicago had that 46 defense, everybody is going to the 46 defense. Eventually maybe they'll come back to one back, they'll wise up and come back.

BTB: What are your thoughts on Felix Jones and Tashard Choice?

TD: I like both of those guys. I think Choice is a tougher runner, a little bit slower, but I like his passion. He could play for me anytime. Felix Jones, if it was me, it would be his job to lose. The only thing about Felix is we don't know how tough he is. I mean he's kind of injury-prone and I don't know if he can withstand the pounding of the National Football League. But he's one of those guys who could start for me. Choice has been just laying back, being a good teammate and just waiting for his opportunity, when he gets it he takes advantage of it.

BTB: From what you've seen, what do you think of Jason Garrett and how he has handled the team?

TD: It's like night and day, Jason has done a great job, the team is responding to him. He's been there and done it during the Jimmy Johnson Era, he knows what it takes to be a winner, and is instilling what he's learned over the years, and it's working. From my vantage point, I know there's a process when it comes to head coaching jobs, but when it's all over and done with, I think Jason Garrett will be the Cowboys next head coach.

 

--- Take it to the House Program

In support of its NFL sponsorship, Procter and Gamble has created the "Take it to the House" photo contest which urges consumers to submit photos that capture the essence of NFL Sunday at their house throughout the course of the NFL season.

A total of eight winners will be elected throughout the NFL season and will win: a meet and greet in their home with a former NFL player; and a $10,000 donation to a local school or charity of their choice to support their health and wellness program. This donation will not only honor P&G’s proud sponsorship of the NFL, but also their support of the NFL’s PLAY 60 program which encourages children to get at least 60 minutes of activity a day.

The grand prize winning photo will be selected from the eight winners at the end of the season via consumer vote. The winner and his/her family will be rewarded with a trip to Hawaii to attend and be honored at the 2011 Pro Bowl.

For more information on the program and the contest, please visit www.facebook.com/takeittothehouse.

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