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Cowboys Midsummer Madness, Round One: Ralph Neely vs. Jethro Pugh

As we head into the summer doldrums, BTB introduces its own form of March Madness to get you through the slow period until training camp: a 64-player "Best Cowboy of all time" tournament! Today’s first round match-up features seven seed Ralph Neely facing off against ten seed Jethro Pugh

Today's contest offers a bit of an unusual situation: a face-off between two players from the same era. In setting up the bracket, one goal was to distribute positions and players from the same teams as evenly as possible across the various regionals; its a testament to how deep the late 60s-70s Cowboys were that I had no choice but to have seventh ranked Ralph Neely, the most under-recognized of the great Cowboys offensive linemen, going against tenth-ranked Jethro Pugh, also unsung, since he played alongside both Bob Lilly and Randy White. Who will advance to round two? Read the bios and hit the poll, good people!

Wanna keep tabs on the state of the bracket or look ahead to future contests? All the Midsummer Madness info you could ever want can be found right here.


Player: Ralph Neely

Position: offensive tackle

Seed: 7


Name Years Career AV Pro Bowls All-Pro RoH HoF
Ralph Eugene Neely

Bio: In 1965, the Cowboys acquired Neely from the Colts, whereupon he became an immediate starter at right tackle . Neely acquitted himself well enough to be named to the NFL all-rookie team. He remained at right tackle for five seasons, winning All=Pro laurels from 1966-'69, and then moved to the left side, allowing Rayfield Wright to man the right side. At 6-6 and 265 pounds, Neely was big for an offensive lineman in his era, but he boasted great quickness for his size, a combination of traits that helped him to become a dominant player. In his thirteen year career, Neely was a four-time All-Pro, was twice named to the Pro Bowl, and was a two-time Super Bowl champion. He was named to the NFL's All-Decade team for the 1960s.

And, in a curious side-note, he was responsible for the institution of the Governor's Cup. He was drafted by the AFL's Oilers in 1965 and signed a contract with them only to send back his signing bonus when he found out that the Colts had traded him to Dallas. After several years of litigation, the Cowboys finally agreed, as part of the AFL-NFL merger, to send the Oilers first, second and two fifth round choices in the 1967 draft , to pay all of the court costs, and to start the annual pre-season game between the two teams.

Selected by Dallas in first round (17th player overall), 1990 … Won rushing crowns in 1991, 1992, 1993, 1995 … Led NFL in rushing touchdowns three times … Major contributor to Cowboys Super Bowl XXVII, XXVIII, XXX victories … Named first-team All-Pro 1992-95 … In 1993, named NFL’s MVP and MVP in Super Bowl XXVIII … 11 straight 1,000-yard seasons … Became NFL’s all-time rushing leader in 2002 … Career totals: 18,355 yards and 164 touchdowns rushing; also had 515 receptions … Born May 15, 1969 in Pensacola, Florida. - See more at:


Player: Jethro Pugh

Position: defensive end, defensive tackle

Seed: 10


Name Years Career AV Pro Bowls All-Pro RoH HoF
Jethro Pugh, Jr.

Bio: Pugh was selected by the Cowboys in the 11th round of the 1965 draft, and served as a backup during his first two years, first at defensive end then at defensive tackle. In 1967, he became the starter at left defensive tackle, where he remained for the next twelve seasons, playing 156 games on the interior of the D-line. Pugh's fourteen seasons represent the fourth-longest career in Cowboys history, behind only "Too Tall" Jones, Bill Bates and Mark Tuinei (all of whom have fifteen)

Pugh was a physical run defender, but developed into a very good interior pass rusher as well. Although sacks were not an official NFL statistic during Pugh's career, Cowboys in-house statistics credit him with a career total of 95.5. Indeed, he led the Cowboys in sacks each season from 1968 to 1972 - a team record that stood until 2010 - with a high mark of 15.5 in 1968. He was a tough warrior and a team player; in 1971, he had a case of appendicitis, but delayed his surgery until the offseason by taking shots of penicillin.

Although he was widely regarded as an excellent player and received second-team All-Pro honors in 1968, Pugh was never voted to a Pro Bowl, in no small part because his defensive linemates were Pro Bowl regulars. Still, its because of those linemanes that Pugh will always hold a special place in the pantheon of nicknames. Playing in the same front four with Randy "Too Strong" White, Harvey "Too Mean" Martin and Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Pugh's moniker was "Too Jethro."

Alright, BTBers, which man advances to the next round?

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