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Cowboys Memories: The Zero Club

In Cowboys history there is one group that is pretty famous for not being well known. These guys plied their trade with little to no fanfare and that was exactly how they wanted it.

Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Offensive linemen are a special breed. With notable exceptions, becoming one of the big uglies up front means that the first order of business when you go to work is to stuff your ego in your back pocket, pack up your lunch pail, and get ready to get down and dirty in the trenches. Having your name called during the Sunday afternoon broadcast usually means something bad; holding, false start or an injury are usually the reason a linemen gets singled out during the game.Offensive linemen are not in the game for personal glory.The same can be said for some of the unheralded guys who line up across from them on the defensive side of the ball.

No group of linemen knew this better than the Zero Club. They were the unheralded group of offensive and defensive linemen that paved the way for the Dallas Cowboys first run of success, As veteran Cowboys voice Brad Sham stated in his book on his experiences broadcasting for the team, "Being overlooked is what the Zero Club was all about". They were the grunts whose efforts made everything else possible and they accomplished their responsibilities with no fanfare attached.

At the core of the Zero Club was Blaine Nye. He was a two-way lineman at Stanford and the Cowboys actually drafted Nye to be a defensive end until necessity forced his move to offensive guard. Blaine never totally lost his fiery defensive mindset. He was the volatile member of the Zero Club. As the 'founder' of the group, Blaine was responsible for the origin of the club's one rule; "Thou Shalt Not Seek Publicity". He, of all the members, had the most difficulty following this creed. Nye was the only member to ever earn all-star recognition, twice being named to the Pro Bowl following the 1974 and 1976 seasons.

Larry Cole entered the league with the same rookie class as Nye. When you are a sixteenth-round draft pick, survival is your only goal, forget fame and fortune and everything that comes with it. He was the perfect example of what a Zero Clubber should be. Like Nye, Cole switched from one side of the line to the other . He was an offensive tackle until Tom Landry converted him to a defensive lineman. Larry played along side two generations of stand out Cowboys defensive linemen, and despite many big plays he was always overshadowed by guys like Bob Lilly and Harvey Martin.

Two years after the original Zero Clubbers joined the team they expanded their membership by adding Pat Toomay to the rolls. He was an undersized defensive end who was primarily a rotational player for the Cowboys. Once George Andrie retired, Toomay became the starter at right defensive end, Being the #1 guy at his position did not even help him get into the limelight. He was overshadowed by the guy whom he rotated with, Ed "Too Tall" Jones. In spite of his success he remained unknown and kept his coveted status within the Zero Club.

Toomay also has the distinction of being the only member of the group that did not play his entire career as a Cowboy. He was traded to the Buffalo Bills in 1975 as part of the package deal that eventually brought Tony Dorsett to Dallas. Pat also had stints with both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Oakland Raiders.

The Zero Club took pride in the fact that, even though they did there jobs well, they never were in the public eye. Spaking for the trio, founder Blaine Nye summed up the philosophy of the club in one sentence:

"Some people are famous and some are infamous. We were un-famous." - Blaine Nye

That was how they liked it.

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