Tag: Cowboys

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Dallas Cowboys: The All-American Handsome Blond Receiver

An earlier RetroCard post discussed the innovative “3rd down back” receiving position revolutionized by the Dallas Cowboys and Preston Pearson in the 1970s. But there was another less talked about receiver, also pioneered by the Cowboys. That was the “All-American Handsome Blond Receiver” position.

The string of pretty-boy wide receivers that passed through the organization is interesting if not peculiar. Possibly foreseeing the marketing benefits of combining the long ball and good looks, the Cowboys began their quest and formulated a look becoming of “America’s Team.”

The blond syndrome began in 1964. Despite having a rising star receiver in Frank Clarke (who from 1961-1963 averaged 44 catches for 932 yards, for a 21.3 per catch average and 11 TDs), the Cowboys went out and traded for two All-Pros in Buddy Dial and Tommy McDonald. Both were flashy and boasted gaudy receiving numbers over the previous 4 seasons. However, neither could duplicate success with the Cowboys, while Frank Clarke out shown both of them in every category, including being named to several All-Pro teams in 1964.

McDonald was traded and Dial fizzled out due to injuries, so the Cowboys brought in little known Lance Rentzel who very quickly was paired in the starting lineup with Bullet Bob Hayes. With defenses double teaming Hayes, Rentzel began to be targeted more. By 1968-69, his numbers were outshining those of All-Pro Hayes! Rentzel, now a star in his own right, married smokin’ hot Hollywood starlet Joey Heatherton, further elevating his public image as the all-American male.

The position took a hit when an unfortunate compulsion saw Rentzel suspended in 1970 and then traded to the Rams. The Cowboys, now a perennial Super Bowl contender, needed a replacement.  They probably thought, “maybe the public wouldn’t notice if we brought in another great receiver, whose name is also Lance, wears #19, and has all-American good-looks!” Enter future hall-of-famer Lance Alworth. Though in the twilight of his career, Alworth contributed to the Cowboys first Super Bowl victory with a crucial touchdown. (Editor’s note: Alworth’s hair was actually brown. But his infectious smile, trendy sideburns, and graceful receptions sufficiently allowed Cowboys management to overlook this minor detail).

Upon Alworth’s retirement in 1972, there was no heir apparent for the position of All-American Handsome Blond Receiver, having traded away both Billy Parks and Ron Sellers. In a surprising move, the Cowboys drafted wide receiver Golden Richards in 1973, who had been injured his entire senior season at Hawaii and didn’t have top-notch receiving skills. BUT he was blazing fast and blazingly blond. He was assigned jersey #19 in training camp, continuing the tradition started by “Rentzworth.” However, he was forced to change his number to #83 due to the newly instated NFL position designations for wide receivers. Richards had a commendable career and, for a time, was the fastest guy on the team. He was involved in the local community, was loved by fans, and even dated Olivia Newton-John! After all his name was “Golden.” He made a big splash with several key touchdowns in the playoffs – the splashiest coming as the game sealing touchdown in Super Bowl XII.

Unfortunately, his build was slight by NFL standards, weighing closer to 165 pounds than his inflated listed weight of 184 pounds. It was no accident that the Steelers knocked him out early in Super Bowl X. The hits took their toll as did pain killer abuse which led to an unpublicized overdose. He was quietly traded to the Chicago Bears in early 1978. Fans were outraged. (I found out about the trade on the playground on the mean streets of Milwaukee. I’ll never forget my disappointment).

Luckily, blue-collar long shot Robert Steele was in training camp and made the active roster after Richards’ departure. Wearing #82, (it must have been too early in the mourning period to issue him #83) Steele played on special teams in the mold of the Eagles’ Vince Papale. Despite his great heart and work ethic, Steele only lasted one year.

The Cowboys were desperate. In 1980 Mike Hagen, a former Cowboys ballboy, made the papers by impressing coaches in training camp as he graced the cover of The Dallas Cowboys Weekly with his blond hair glistening in the sun. Despite the good-feel story, he didn’t make the team.

Unable to move up in the 1981 draft to land Chris Collinsworth (who did not have the prerequisite “Hollywood nose”) the Cowboys drafted a Golden Richards clone in Doug Donley, who, like Richards, had blond locks, tremendous speed, and brittle bones. Assigning him – you guessed it – #83, Donley was a suitable backup receiver who didn’t have the game changing abilities of Richards. When coach Landry surprisingly started him over Butch Johnson for a brief time in 1983, the infatuation was all too obvious.  Johnson, a superior receiver, voiced his frustrations and was dually traded the following year to the Houston Oilers for Mike Renfro. Not to be confused with Lover Boy lead singer Mike Reno, Mike Renfro was a tad earthier-looking but could produce where it counted – on the field. Dallas fizzled as the decade of the 80s wore on and the Cowboys gave up on the All-American Handsome Blond Receiver for good as the Landry regime came to an end.

The Cowboys went through a string of young hopefuls like Karl Powe, Leon Gonzales, Mike Sherrard, Kelvin Edwards, Cornell Burbage, Ray Alexander, and Everett Gay until Michael Irvin came along to restore order to the position. Maybe coach Landry just liked his wide receivers like he liked his women: fast and blond. Could you blame him?

P.S. Seems to me that measly Cole Beasley should’ve worn #83? Oh well. Many of the cards shown above are from Cowboys RetroCards sets already available or are from forthcoming sets. Check back often!
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1968 Dallas Cowboys: One More Philadelphia Set

This RetroCards 24-card set is a continuation of the Philadelphia Gum Football sets of the sixties. Philadelphia released cards of NFL players between 1964-1967. This set of Dallas Cowboy cards is what a set may have looked like in 1968, if one had been released by Philadelphia. The design goes away from the posed photography of the 1964-1967 sets and instead uses action or sideline shots. Some partial block outs overlap onto the name title box, making the player “jump off the card!”Players include: George Andrie, Frank Clarke, Leon Donohue, Mike Gaechter, Walt Garrison, Pete Gent, Cornell Green, Bob Hayes, Chuck Howley, Lee Roy Jordan, Bob Lilly, Tony Liscio, Don Meredith, Ralph Neely, Pettis Norman, Don Perkins, Jethro Pugh, Dan Reeves, Mel Renfro, Lance Rentzel, Willie Townes, Danny Villanueva, Rayfield Wright, and coach Tom Landry.

The first installment in this series was a special Ice Bowl 18-card set. Now RetroCards gives you 24 Dallas Cowboys for your collection. Get it here!

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1977 Cowboys Solidified the “America’s Team” Moniker

The 1977 Football set is arguably the most attractive football set of the decade.  With bright primary colors replacing the pinks and avocado greens of the 74-76 football sets, the 1977 set has long been a fan favorite.  It is the first RetroCard set to feature this year and the Cowboys are again in the spotlight.

It contains many players who were big contributors to the Cowboys run at Super Bowl XII when they defeated the Denver Broncos 27-13.  Players in the set included: Benny Barnes, Bob Breunig, Larry Cole, Doug Dennison, Bill Gregory, Thomas Henderson, Randy Hughes, Jim Jensen, Aaron Kyle, Burton Lawless, D.D. Lewis, Jethro Pugh, Jay Saldi, coach Tom Landry, a pre-rookie Tony Dorsett, and All-Pro Rayfield Wright card!  Free agent QB Steve Deberg and future Giant Beasley Reece also get their Cowboy debut in this new set. Get it here!

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1975 Cowboys: Young Talent Pays Off

After a disappointing 1974 season, where the Cowboys missed the playoffs, rebuilding seemed to be in order. The 1975 rookie class saw 12 hopefuls make the team in what was billed the “dirty dozen.” Bob Lilly, Bob Hayes, Walt Garrison, Craig Morton, Cornell Green, and Dave Manders were all gone and new players such as Ed “Too Tall” Jones, Randy White, Thomas Henderson, Pat Donovan arrived. Other key additions were Preston Pearson and Danny White, who battled Jim Zorn and Clint Longley for the back up quarterback position to Roger Staubach.

The 1975 football card designs are the second year in a row to feature the color scheme of pink and avocado green, which matched perfectly with the Cowboys uniforms! But it was the 1970s, so at the time, it looked perfectly normal. Included in this 18-card set are: Jim Arenson, Jean Fugett, Efren Hererra, Calvin Hill, Mitch Hoopes, Bill Houston, Ron Howard, Ed “Too Tall” Jones, Clint Longley, Harvey Martin, Dennis Morgan, Robert Newhouse, Preston Pearson, Jethro Pugh, Pat Toomay, Danny White, Jim Zorn, and a highlight card of Clint Longley’s dramatic comeback performance over the Redskins on Thanksgiving. Get your set here.

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1961 Dallas Cowboys: How Could They Get Worse?

After their inaugural 1960 season where the Dallas Cowboys posted a 0–11–1 record, expectation were not high. Of course it would be hard do to worse than their first season, but Tom Landry had much work to do. Though he installed a defense (the flex) the team had a hard time adopting and even understanding, the Cowboys pressed on winning three of their first four games in 1961. The league quickly caught up with them but some stars were starting to shine.

Don Perkins, who missed all of 1960 with a broken ankle rushed for 815 yards.  Eddie LeBaron made a Pro Bowler out of Billy Howton and young receiver developed into a deep threat. On the defensive side, Chuck Howley regained his speed after an injury that forced him to retire after 1959 and rookie Bob Lilly showed signs of stardom. Quarterback Don Meredith was still developing and helped the Cowboys to at 4–9–1 season.

This 18-card set includes: Gene Babb, Dick Bielski, Frank Clarke, Mike Connelly, Jim Harris, Don Healy, Bill Herchman, John Houser, Chuck Howley, Bill Howton, Eddie LeBaron, Bob Lilly, Warren Livingston, Amos Marsh, Don Meredith, Dick Moegle, Don Perkins, and Jerry Tubbs. Get it here!

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1964 Cowboys: Still Building

Topps, Philadelphia Gum Cards, NFL

At the start of the 1963 season, the Cowboys were actually considered as a contender to win the Eastern Conference.  Don Meredith was now the full time starter and Bob Lilly was dominating on defense.  The Cowboys showed some offensive fire power but managed only a 4-10 record in 1963 and 5-8-1 record in 1964.  Much work was still needed as quality players were being added to the roster. Two of those players were star receivers Buddy Dial and Tommy McDonald.  With Frank Clarke having emerged as a legitimate deep threat, Cowboy fans were probably drooling at the though of all these great receivers.  Surprisingly, the offense started to sputter. Buddy Dial got hurt, McDonald didn’t produce, and Clarke’s yards per catch plummeted. Part of the offensive struggles were due to Don Meredith’s nagging leg injury and the poor kicking of rookie kicker Dick Van Raaphorst.  The defense carried the team and began to jell.

RetroCards adds some of those players in this 1964 Philadelphia Gum card style.  Players include: George Andrie, Amos Bullocks, Jim Colvin, Buddy Dial, Bob Fry, Mike Gaechter, Chuck Howley, Les Josephson, Jake Kupp, Tony Liscio, Warren Livingston, Billy Lothridge, John Roach, Jim Ray Smith, Jim Stiger, Don Talbert, Jerry Tubbs, and Maury Youmans. Get your set here!