Growing up the youngest of 14 children teaches a boy to be tough at a young age, and being named after not one, but two of Americas great WWII generals gives him a lot to live up to. Dwight Douglas Lewis did not disappoint. After earning all-state honors at Fulton High in Knoxville, Tennessee; he accepted a scholarship offer from Mississippi State. In Starkville, young Lewis became a three year, two way starter for the Bulldogs. As a linebacker he led the team in both tackles and assists each of his three varsity seasons. He also served as the team's captain as a senior. Although he was also the Bulldog center DD earned his reputation as a defensive player. He was named to the All SEC Sophomore team his first year, and during his last two seasons, he earned All SEC honors as a linebacker. His senior season also brought first team All America honors from UPI. Although his teams never matched the success that Lewis received as an individual, he made the Bulldogs defense into one of the most respected ones in the SEC. The legendary Paul "Bear" Bryant repeatedly claimed that DD Lewis was the best linebacker in the country, and Georgia coach Vince Dooley once said Lewis was the best LB any of his teams ever played against. After his college career Lewis earned invitations to the Blue-Gray game, the Senior Bowl and the College Coaches All-Star game. He was also inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Despite the many honors that were bestowed on him for his collegiate play, Lewis did not figure highly on draft day 1968. Most teams felt that he was too slow and too small to make a successful transition to the professional game. Even though he was ranked as the best linebacker in the nation DD Lewis had to wait as first one and then another LB was taken ahead of him. At last, in the sixth round, the Dallas Cowboys used the 159th pick to select Lewis. They has already taken two other linebackers in the same draft. Clearly his work was cut out for him just to make the team. Arriving in camp that summer Lewis was informed that Tom Landry had selected him as a center, not as a defensive player. Finally, half way through his first NFL camp, the guy who had never played anywhere but middle linebacker was given a shot to earn a slot as the second string weak-side LB. Based on his effort at that position and due to his ability to back up both Chuck Howley andLee Roy Jordan, he earned one of the final roster positions. This of course also meant he had to become primarily a special teams play for the Cowboys. Almost as quickly as his career started, it was interrupted. For the 1969 season DD Lewis would not wear a Cowboy uniform. Thanks to the draft board he wore the uniform of the United States Army. DD would later credit that draft with allowing him to maintain a spot on the Cowboy roster.
DD Lewis returned to the Dallas Cowboys in time for the 1970 season. Over the next three seasons he saw only limited action as the back-up to Howley. He did however become the backbone of Landry's special teams. He was, in the coach's own words, "My most under-rated player." In 1973 DD took over the starting position upon the retirement of the future Ring of Honor member that he had backed up for several seasons. It was the start of 8uninterrupted seasons as the starter, although he did face a couple challenges to his position. In the same draft, Dallas selected both Bob Breunig and Randy White, and each was given the opportunity to unseat Lewis. Although both men found roles in Landry's flex defense, neither was able to replace the motivated linebacker. That same season DD Lewis played his most memorable game, intercepting two passes in the NFC Championship as he helped to lead the Cowboys to the Super Bowl. Over the 13 seasons he played for the team DD Lewis appeared in 27 play-off games including 9 NFC Championships and 5 Super Bowls. Only eight men have played in the big game that many times. Fewer men have walked on the moon than have achieved this elite distinction. DD remains the Cowboy record holder for play-off games started and he is third all time for consecutive starts.
Over his career Lewis made many big plays for the team. When asked which play stood out to him, DD replied it was one he didn't make. In the last game of his career, on the last play he would ever be involved in DD Lewis was called on to blitz the quarterback. He lowered his head and blitzed. He later stated "All I had to do was look up and I would have sacked Joe Montana." Instead that play turned into what will forever be known to NFL fans as "The Catch." Cowboy fans may also recall that it was DD Lewis who informed the world that Texas Stadium had a hole in the roof " so that God could watch his favorite team". Although he never made the Pro Bowl, DD Lewis was twice selected as a team captain, was voted the fans most popular player, and he was named to the silver anniversary Cowboy team.