We’re continuing our countdown to the opening game of the Dallas Cowboys 2023 regular season. Each day we’ll present a new player whose jersey number represents the countdown to opening day. Today is number 62 and a historical player.
C John Fitzgerald
Born: 16th April 1948 (75) - Southbridge, Massachusetts
College: Boston College Eagles
Draft: 1970, Round 4, Pick 101, Dallas Cowboys
Games Played: 137
Super Bowl Winner 1972, 1978
John Fitzgerald played fullback in high school before enrolling at Boston College. When he got to the Eagles he played as a two-way player as both a defensive tackle and a guard. He would go on to play three years at Boston College, the whole time playing on both defense and offense. He would be inducted into Boston College’s Hall of Fame in 1982.
Fitzgerald was taken in the fourth round by Dallas in 1970 with the team unsure if he would play on defense or offense. He was waived later in the year but re-signed in 1971 to be a backup inside offensive linemen. In 1972, Fitzgerald moved into the center position and held a backup position that year. After a year of learning and perfecting the position he was finally awarded the starting role as the team’s center. The offensive line would become one of the best in the NFL and in Cowboys history, helping keep Roger Staubach clean to guide the team to two Super Bowl victories.
What made Fitzgerald such an important figure to the offensive line was his ability to snap the ball far and accurately without looking, which in turn saw the emergence of the shotgun formation in the NFL under Tom Landry. He would be placed on injured reserve in 1981 after suffering many injuries, some of which he battled through during playoff and Super Bowl games. Fitzgerald would retire a year later and would mark the beginning of a long line of successful players to play at the position. One of the biggest robberies of his time was him never making a Pro Bowl despite having helped evolve the game and how centers would go on to the play. The Cowboys made the playoffs every year he played center over his 10 year career, except one season.