You ever heard of Dwayne Robertson? A big’ ol defensive tackle from Kentucky who was going to be the next Warren Sapp?
Yeah, that’s the guy Bill Parcells actually wanted to draft back in 2003, his first year with the team in his first draft as Cowboys head coach. It didn’t work out though. Robertson went to the Jets at No. 4, one pick before Dallas. The Cowboys ended up with Terence Newman.
No, Newman never really lived up to those expectations. He was a starter, always a good player but never really great, although he made two Pro Bowls. It was probably about eight shy of the expectations when you’re drafted that high.
As for Robertson, he played six years and was just an average to good player. Who knows if he would’ve been better with the Cowboys and what Parcells had planned for him? But that’s just how it works out.
My point is that, while Newman is considered a great player for the Cowboys, it wasn’t the worst pick in the world. I’ve heard people call him a bust, and that couldn’t be further from the truth.
However, when I look back on his career, even though they couldn’t have arrived on the scene any differently, I can’t help but compare Newman to Everson Walls. Yes, Newman was a first-round pick and Walls was an undrafted rookie from Grambling.
Still, their two careers have a lot of resemblances, especially how things ended here in Dallas.
Both started right away and although they didn’t always come up with the big play, you could count on both Walls and Newman to come up with a key interception. Now, Walls wasn’t the athlete Newman was, but he sure could pick off passes. He had 11 as a rookie to lead the league in 1981 and he led the NFL three times, tying Ed Reed for the most ever.
Since it’s more of a passing league now, what Walls did is even more impressive. He intercepted 44 passes in nine seasons with the Cowboys, which ranks second-most behind Mel Renfro (52). Newman also played nine years and picked off 32 passes, tied for seventh in club history.
That was always the knock on Newman – he just didn’t have enough picks each year. He would’ve made more Pro Bowls had he just gotten his hands on a few more passes. Even like two or three a year, could’ve been the difference of making six or seven Pro Bowls, rather than just two.
I guess you can say that about every player, but Newman did have good coverage skills up until the last few years. Injuries played a factor, but it’s not everything. His skills diminished somewhat and that was never more apparent than his final game with the Cowboys last season. He just looked like a player with no confidence as the Giants had Victor Cruz running away from him and then fullbacks jumping over him.
Clearly, Newman needed a change and so far, it seems like he’s doing well in Cincinnati.
Walls’ last few years in Dallas showed a big decline, too. In fact, during Jimmy Johnson’s first season in 1989, Walls cost the Cowboys a victory in Arizona when he gave up a long touchdown in the final minutes. He made things worse when Johnson caught him fraternizing with Cardinals players after the game. After the season, Walls was let go and the Cowboys moved in another direction.
Walls didn’t end his time in Dallas on the right foot. He went to other teams and eventually won a Super Bowl ring with the Giants and was actually on the cover of Sports Illustrated. These days, Walls still works in the Dallas-Fort Worth media market and is still a fan favorite, even before his courageous act of donating his kidney to former teammate Ron Springs. It’s my opinion that Walls deserves to be in the Ring of Honor, for the combination of what he did on the field and then off the field in act that defines what a true teammate should be.
Still, Walls is considered a great player by Cowboys fans. And even though it didn’t end well for Newman, I’m hopeful he will be viewed in a similar way. I’m not saying he’s worthy of the Ring of Honor, but he was a good player for this organization who should be judged by his entire body of work, rather than the last couple of years.