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Ring of Honor: Tony Dorsett


Tony Dorsett arrived in Dallas in 1977 via a draft-day deal the Cowboys swung with the Seattle Seahawks for the sole intention of selecting the Heisman Trophy winner from the University of Pittsburgh. Then Cowboys president and General Manager Tex Schramm paid what seemed like a bundle for the right to draft Dorsett: One first-round, and three second-round choices.

As his 11-career turned out in Dallas, a steal of a deal for an eventual Pro Football Hall of Fame player.

The Dorsett deal paid dividends in his very first year with the Cowboys, the four-time All-American picking up where he left off in college, rushing for 1,007 yards to earn NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors and set the rushing bar for rookie running backs in Dallas.

"A lot of the people said I wouldn't last in this league," Dorsett said in 1987. "I was the skinny little kid from Aliquippa, Pa., who wasn't supposed to make it."

Dorsett did make it, in fact he became one of the greatest running backs in NFL history. On Sept. 26, 1988 while playing his final NFL season with the Denver Broncos, Dorsett moved into second place on the NFL all-time rushing list with 12,306 rushing yards, and eventually finished his career with 12,739 yards. At the time, Dorsett trailed only Walter Payton when he retired after suffering a knee injury the following summer, but now ranks fifth behind Payton, Emmitt Smith, Barry Sanders and Eric Dickerson.

By the time Dorsett completed his 12-year career, he had collected a victory in Super Bowl XII, four Pro Bowl selections, one All-Pro honor and three All-NFC selections.

One of the most notable moments of Dorsett's career came on Jan. 2, 1983, before a Monday Night Football television audience playing against the Minnesota Vikings. Dorsett received a handoff from quarterback Danny White and proceeded to run 99-yards for a touchdown, thus recording an unbreakable NFL record. Dorsett's greatest season came in 1981 when he rushed for 1,646 yards, a franchise record at the time, a total that now ranks third to only Emmitt Smith's two, 1700-yard seasons.

"When he came to us, we hadn't had a strong running attack for about three years," Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach once said. "Tony Dorsett is one of the greatest backs in NFL history."

Dorsett was the Heisman Trophy winner in 1976 and was the first Pitt football player to have his jersey retired. Dorsett left Pitt as a four-time All-American and four-time 1,000-yard rusher. His final collegiate highlight was a 27-3 victory over Georgia in the Sugar Bowl to claim the national title.

In 1994 Dorsett became the ninth Cowboys player inducted into the Ring of Honor, and that same year he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Born April 7, 1954, in Rochester, Pennsylvania.