Greatest Cowboys By Their Jersey Numbers: #61

Part of the Greatest Players by Number Series

Jersey #61

Six players have worn #61 for the Cowboys. This includes five offensive linemen and a punter/kicker.

Jim Cooper, OL, Temple, 1977-86

Jim CooperStatistics: n/a

Accolades: None.

Longevity: Cooper played ten seasons with the Cowboys.

Intangibles: He was a dependable right tackle throughout a large part of the 1980s.

Kelvin Garmon, G, Baylor, 2001-02

Statistics: n/a

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He was originally drafted in 1999 but only played in two seasons with the Cowboys.

Intangibles: Garmon spent two seasons on injured reserve but came back to become a starter in 2001. He was traded to San Diego early in the 2002 season.

Allen Green, P/K, Mississippi, 1961

Statistics: Green made five of 15 field goal attempts (yes, you read that correctly) with the Cowboys. As a punter, he averaged 36.7 yards per kick.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played one season.

Intangibles: When a kicker hits on 33.3% of his field goals, he won’t last long in the NFL. Green didn’t.

Nate Newton, G/T, Florida A&M, 1986-98

Nate NewtonStatistics: n/a

Accolades: Newton made six Pro Bowls and was named first-team All-Pro twice. He was named to numerous other all-pro and all-conference teams.

Longevity: He played 13 seasons with the Cowboys.

Intangibles: Newton was a mainstay during the 1990s, first earning widespread recognition thanks to John Madden showing how far Newton’s sweat showed up on his pants. He was also the most likable of all the Cowboys who ran afoul with the law. Since serving 30+ months in prison for smuggling marijuana, he has turned his life around.

Blaine Nye, G, Stanford, 1968-76

Blaine NyeStatistics: n/a

Accolades: Nye was named to two Pro Bowls.

Longevity: He played nine seasons with the Cowboys.

Intangibles: Nye was a defensive lineman in college who was converted to offensive line by the Cowboys. He developed into a starter by 1970. He was a solid player with the team (and perhaps its smartest, given that he has a master’s degree in physics). He was notorious for contemplating retirement before changing his mind right before training camp. Didn’t quite get the media coverage of a certain Green Bay quarterback lately.

Duane Putnam, G, Pacific, 1960

Statistics: n/a

Accolades: None with Dallas. He was a five-time Pro Bowler with the L.A. Rams during the 1950s.

Longevity: He played one season in Dallas.

Intangibles: Dallas acquired Putnam in the 1960 expansion draft. He started one season with the Cowboys before the team traded him to Cleveland.


Here is your chance to vote for the greatest player to wear #61.

Greatest #61

  • Nate Newton (88%, 114 Votes)
  • Blaine Nye (11%, 14 Votes)
  • Jim Cooper (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Kelvin Garmon (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Allen Green (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Duane Putnam (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 130

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My Vote: Newton

Nate NewtonVery few Cowboys lasted as long as Newton, who remained solid throughout most of the 1990s. He was originally signed by Washington but was released during training camp. He then played two seasons in the USFL before joining the Cowboys in 1986, and what a ride it was. He was versatile enough to move from guard to tackle, then back to guard. He was also a vocal leader in the locker room. He’s paid his debt for the prison term, and I don’t think it has hurt his overall standing as one of the Cowboy greats.

Nye was another great one who came along at the best of times, as he appeared in three Super Bowls. I don’t think that he meant quite as much to the team as Newton, however. Cooper was among the better lineman of the 1980s (some tend to forget all of these linemen thanks to Phil Pozderac), but he simply wasn’t in the same class as Newton or Nye.

  • Tim Truemper

    I voted for Nate but I sure would have liked to put some some support behind Blaine Nye. He was smart and tough and under rated. Many of us back in the day thought he was at least as good or better than the other guard who got the Pro Bowl accolades, John Niland. Blaine was part of a sarcastic group of the Cowboys known as the “Zero Club.” One other was Larry Cole. Their motto: “None for all and all for naught.”

    But it is hard not to vote for the “Kitchen” –Big Nate.

  • I thought Blaine Nye was one of the best to wear the Cowboys #61 but Nate Newton was just a monster and played at a high level for many years. I had to vote for Big Nate on this one.

  • We’re coming up on #63 (Larry Cole) and #66 (Pat Toomay), so pretty soon I need to do a piece on the zero club.

    Landry once said that Nye never had a bad football game. That really says a lot coming from Landry.

  • Newton all the way!

  • Fred Goodwin

    I voted to Nate, but Nye was surely one of the quickest wits ever to don the silver and blue.

    It was Nye, after Clint Longley replaced Roger Staubach and led the team to an unlikely 24-23 comeback win over the hated Redskins on Thanksgiving Day, who described the performance as a “triumph of an uncluttered mind”.

    Simply classic!

  • Fred Goodwin

    Pot-bellied Cowboy — Finally catching up with the late, great Nate

    By Richie Whitt
    Published on November 17, 2005

    You want a tearjerker tale of remorse, rehabilitation and repentance behind bars?

    Not from Nate Newton.

    “I didn’t find God in prison,” he says. “All I found was hatred and the devil and dudes scheming up better ways to break the law.”

    You expect a sappy apology for cutting off friends and family in favor of illegal drug trafficking?

    Not from Nate Newton.

    “If I got caught, I didn’t want there to be no connections to my people,” he says. “You’re either going to heaven or hell, there’s no in between. I’m going to heaven now, but at the time I was going to hell full-speed. That’s just the way I do things, all the way. If I was a killer, I’d take ’em all out. Everybody. Not just one or two.”

    You seek a logical explanation for how a guy got busted for transporting hundreds of pounds of pot, twice in five weeks?

    Not from Nate Newton.

    “I thought I was invincible,” he says. “Like nobody could touch me.”

    After 14 years in the pros and 32 months in the pen, Nate Newton still doesn’t fit the mold. In his first interview with a print outlet since being released from prison, he was as subtle as a bulldozer–zero percent sugarcoat, 100 percent straight shit.

    “In the NFL, I lived on two and a half hours’ sleep,” he says. “It caught up to me, but that’s the way I rolled: butt-naked booty bumpin’.”

    Though a free man after leaving Louisiana’s Avoyelles State Prison a year ago, the popular ex-Cowboy has kept a skinny profile. He’s whispered his story only to K104-FM’s morning show, a talk show at Hooters hosted by Cowboys radio voice Wally Lynn, KFCD 990 AM afternoon host Mike Fisher and, on November 3, your friendly Dallas Observer.

    Wearing shorts, a gray Reebok T-shirt and 373 pounds on his 6-foot-1 frame, Nate appeared great. But he also bore the scars of being a toter, if not a toker.

    “I don’t even like pot,” he said. “It just makes me hon-gree. If I smoked out, I’d weigh 800 pounds.”

    One of his era’s most dominant offensive linemen, Newton earned three Super Bowl rings, six Pro Bowl trips and the common man’s adoration because of his fluctuating weight and jagged yet jocular sound bites. He also suited up for the enemy–playing the decadent deliveryman who paved the way for dealers to peddle dope to your city…and your kids.

    “I’m not gonna lie,” he said. “I was that guy.”

    It was laziness, greed and a rough circle of friends met at illegal dog fights that lured Nate into drug trafficking after he retired in ’99. His scheme was simple: “Invest” $10,000, drive from Dallas to wherever there was demand for his supply, deliver pot in cardboard boxes and get handed $30,000.

    “It didn’t seem like easy money, it was easy money,” said Newton, whose last Cowboys contract paid him $700,000 in ’98. “I wasn’t broke. It just seemed too good to pass up.”

    Nate’s fantasy got bitch-slapped on November 4, 2001, when, after countless successful runs over a year, he and two women were stopped by Louisiana state troopers on Interstate 10 in St. Martin Parish. In his white van, police found 213 pounds–not ounces, pounds–of marijuana. Undaunted, Nate kept trippin’. Out on bail, he was stopped along Interstate 45 in Ellis County by U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents on December 12. In his red F-150 truck, officials found $10,000 in cash and 175 pounds of pot with a street value of $700,000.

    Nate’s playing weight in 1991: 368. Nate’s pot weight in 2001: 388.

    “It was police profiling, but it’s not bad luck when you’re planning to do wrong and you get caught,” he said. “That’s just stupidity. And even after that I was still thinking about making another run.”

    Luckily, he never got the chance.

    “By the grace of God, I got busted before it was too late,” he said.

    A judge denied Newton bail, and he sat in the Seagoville Detention Center for eight months awaiting trial. After initially pleading not guilty, he eventually showed up in court wearing ankle chains and accepted a plea bargain down to one count of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance. In August ’02, he was sentenced to 32 months in prison and fined $25,000.

    In Seagoville, Nate was a star who signed autographs and a kingpin inmate who traded cigarettes for Twinkies.

    Said Nate, “Because I didn’t smoke, I was the man.”

    But when he began serving his sentence at the federal correctional institute in Texarkana in October ’02, Nate dissolved from uniform No. 61 into inmate No. XXXL. He slept on a metal bunk and shared slop with inmates like former Texas Attorney General Dan Morales and the father of Oklahoma star running back Adrian Peterson.

    There were few familiar faces, though. Nate eventually declined visits from former teammate Deion Sanders, former coach Barry Switzer and even from his father, Nate Sr.

    “I couldn’t take it, man,” he said. “When I’d see them walking away and I had to stay behind the white line and watch that door slam, shit, that’s when you know straight up you’re a convict. I couldn’t stand to see them leave, so I just told them to stop showing up.” Nate served his final six months in Louisiana–sleeping on a concrete slab in a cell with 40 prisoners and one toilet.

    “They don’t play around at that joint,” he said. “I don’t even like to think about that place.”

    Thanks more to his intimidating size than his jovial disposition, Nate survived. He was released November 9, 2004, free to join life two and a half years behind and a club whose members include Mike Tyson, Martha Stewart and Jamal Lewis.

    “Prison doesn’t help you, unless you help yourself,” Nate said. “A week after I got out I got straight with myself and God. I apologized to my family, and I promised myself I’d never go back to prison.”

    A year into freedom, Nate seems content with his cautious comeback.

    Remarried and living in Wylie, the 43-year-old Newton spends his days working as a regional coordinator for O-D Sports football camp. (Oh yeah, he also drives–swear–a Volkswagen Golf. Profile this!) Friday nights he watches his oldest son, Nathaniel III, play football for top-ranked Southlake Carroll High School, and Sundays are still reserved for the Cowboys.

    He’s spoken to Tulane University’s football team, displaced by Hurricane Katrina, and to Cowboys rookies at Valley Ranch. But as of now there are no book deals, no Hollywood scripts, no TV jobs, no coaching doors swinging open.

    You expect a fairy-tale ending?

    Not from Nate Newton.

    “Good things are going to happen for me. But right now it’s just time to sit back and laugh at folks,” he said. “Mostly, at myself.”

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  • When I was a kid about 10 or 11 years old, Blaine and D.D. Lewis lived in the same apartment complex that I did in Dallas. I lived right around the corner from Blaine and his young family (he’d already had one child, and I think his wife was expecting their second)…anyway, the word got around that there were a couple of Cowboys living in our complex and all the neighborhood kids went crazy. As a matter of fact, after Blaine would get home from practice, he would join us kids to be the ‘all time quarterback’ when we played street football at our complex.
    We all became friends with him and his family, and for those of us who played YMCA football there at the White Rock Y, we had a special ‘night’ game every season…it was a big deal for us kids, and we had to go out to sell tickets for the big game of the season. I remember approaching his door and asked him if he’d like to buy some tickets for our game. He did, and he bought for the rest of his family also.
    I know that these thoughts seem all irrelevant now, but they were big to us as little kids, and when the season ended he left our complex to spend the off season back out in California. And when he did, he signed those photos that the team would shoot of each of the players to all of us.
    Sometimes when I see a Cowboys game, I think back to Blaine and the players who were on the team. Those were special remembrances to an impressionable kid about a football player who didn’t have to give at all, but did because he wanted to.

  • Fred Goodwin

    H. Esse:

    That’s an awesome story.

    I’ll bet Nye would love to hear from you. Maybe if you sent him a letter, c/o the Dallas Cowboys, they could get it to him.

    Their address is:

    Dallas Cowboys
    One Cowboys Parkway
    Irving, TX 75063-4727

    Good luck

  • H. Esse

    Thanks Fred.
    Will do.
    H. Esse