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Spotlight On The Cowboys Ring Of Honor: Don Perkins

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A long line of successful Dallas running backs have tried to eclipse Don Perkins contributions. Only two have succeeded.

Don Perkins came to the Cowboys in similar fashion to his teammate and co-inductee, Don Meredith. Both men were signed to personal services contracts by Clint Murchison in the event that he was awarded a franchise in the National Football League. Once Dallas was awarded a franchise both men would go on to leave a lasting mark on the new organization even though they would both leave the game while they still had something left in the tank.

Perkins was an outstanding player for Dallas throughout his career. He primarily was used as a fullback in Tom Landry’s offense in spite of his diminutive size. He stood 5’10" tall and weighed just a little over 200 pounds.

"I was small, but I was one that was afraid. When you're scared, you can run real fast." - Don Perkins

Run he did. Don Perkins led the Dallas Cowboys in rushing in six of the eight seasons he was an active player. Each of those campaigns saw him named to the Pro Bowl in recognition of his success. He also became the franchise’s first All Pro in 1962 when he rushed for a career best 945 yards. He would be honored with the All Pro title twice more in 1967 & 68.

In total, Perkins rushed for 6,217 yards, becoming the fifth back in NFL history to break the 6,000 yard barrier. His efforts still rank among the Cowboys all time marks. Only Emmitt Smith and Tony Dorsett have gained more yards on the ground for Dallas.

He was also a superb blocker for the Cowboys. As good as he was with the ball in his hands, Perkins was even better when he was clearing a path for his fellow backs. Bob Lilly called his teammate one of the best blockers in the game, and fellow fullback Walt Garrison calls Perkins the best fullback in team history.

It will not show in the record books, but Perkins greatest contributions to the Cowboys came beyond the lights. We was, and still is, active in the NAACP. Don Perkins led the fight for African American players in Dallas to be treated as equal to their white peers. The 1960’s were some rough times for players of color, but men like Don Perkins persevered and paved a a path that few today would tolerate as they broke barriers that insured that those who followed would never have to contend with.

Don Perkins would also follow that other Don that he shares a story with by becoming a broadcaster after retirement. Following that stint he found success in both public service and in the private sector. Perkins proved to be a man of many talents, and with everything that he undertook, he left his mark.