Skip to main content

Ring of Honor: Don Perkins


When Don Perkins retired following an eight-year career with the Dallas Cowboys, only four other running backs in NFL history had rushed for more yards than his 6,217.

"I was small," the 5-10, 204-pound Perkins once said, "but I was one that was afraid. When you're scared, you can run real fast."

Perkins still ranks third on the franchise's all-time rushing list. Not bad since the first two are Emmitt Smith, headed to the Pro Football Hall of Fame once he retires, and Tony Dorsett, already enshrined in the Hall of Fame. But Perkins always will be known as the first Cowboy to rush for 6,000 career yards, doing so first as a running back and finally as a fullback.

Perkins' six seasons leading the team in rushing ranks third, as does his 42 career rushing touchdowns. His 10, 100-yard games in his eight-year career ranks fourth in club history, trailing only Smith, Dorsett and Calvin Hill. And his four consecutive years leading the team in rushing touchdowns ranks has him in a second-place tie behind only Smith.

"He was one of the best blocking fullbacks in the league," former teammate Bob Lilly said in 1976, a tribute to his all-around game, especially in the later years when he was moved to fullback.

Perkins was a six-time Pro Bowl selection, and in 1961 was named the NFL Rookie of the Year, following that up with All-Pro honors in 1962.

Perkins retired in 1969 on the day that players were to report to training camp. Many of his teammates and coaches thought he was leaving the game too early, but Perkins knew it was time to move on, even though he would finish ranking among ranking among the top 10 NFL rushers in each of his eight seasons.

"I don't feel I'm washed up," Perkins said, "but then again I'm not na?ve enough to believe I'm just coming into my own either."

But it didn't take long to inscribe Perkins' name into the team's Ring of Honor, inducted in 1976 along with his quarterback throughout his career, Don Meredith.

Perkins was a standout running back at the University of New Mexico where he was a three-time All-Skyline selection before signing with the Cowboys.

Born March 4, 1938, in Waterloo, Iowa.