It seems that the Dallas Cowboys have always been the beneficiaries of great tight end play. There have been many names that have made their mark from the TE slot over the years. To most of us the names Jay Novacek and Jason Wittenstand out for the obvious reason, but before that there were many others, and today I will take a look at perhaps the most under appriciated of them all.
Billy Joe DuPree was a product of Richardson High School in West Monroe, La where he served as a team captain. During his career Richardsonmade three appearances in the state championship game, winning twice. For his production in high school DuPree was inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.
After a stellar prep career several big name colleges were interested in securing the services of Billy Joe DuPree and he chose to play his ball as a Michigan State Spartan. Although DuPree was capable of putting up big numbers in a pass first offense he also was an incredible blocking tight end and the Spartan run first oriented offense gave him the chance to showcase his blocking skills. Even with the focus on the run Billy Joe put up impressive numbers as the top pass catcher on the team. During his junior year he caught 25 balls for 414 yards and a touchdown and the next season he added 406 more yards with 23 catches. Although in today's game these are not numbers that turn people's heads in that era of three yards and a cloud of dust Big 10 football it was more than enough to garner first team All America honors for the Spartan captain.
During the first round of the 1973 NFL draft the Dallas Cowboys came calling. Naturally Tom Landry expected a guy who would be a blocker first, which DuPree proved to be. He also became a solid target for Roger Staubach and later Danny White. During an 11 year career Billy Joe caught 267 balls and 3565 yards. He was a favorite target of both QBs especially in the red zone. DuPree had a habit of finding the endzone;scoring a Cowboy TE record 41 touchdowns. That record will stand until Jason Witten scores his next touchdown. DuPree also added one more score as a fullback. He carried the ball 28 times and gained 128 yards in that role.
During an 11 year career in which he never missed a game Billy Joe DuPree played in three pro bowls 22 playoff games and three Super Bowls, including Super Bowl XII where he led all receivers with 4 catches and 66 yards in helping the team win its second Lombardi Trophy. He also added a Super Bowl touchdown to his resume the following season. DuPree elected to retire from football after being informed that he would not be with the team the following year. He had offers to join other clubs, but Billy Joe honored a promise he had made to Coach Landry to retire rather than wear any other team's uniform.
Following his career, Billy Joe DuPree has remained very active in giving back to the community. In addition to working as an executive with a Dallas based construction firm; he set up his own foundation called Champions4Champions to help inner city kids. He also is active with the Shriners and NFL Alumni Charities.