50 Seasons in 50 Weeks Series: Building the 1960 Dallas Cowboys

This is the first entry in the 50 Seasons in 50 Weeks Series on this blog. Today marks the 49th anniversary of the date the NFL granted a new franchise in Dallas to Clint Murchison, Jr. and Bedford Wynne, so this seems like a good starting point.

This entry focuses on how the Cowboys developed the original 1960 roster, which was probably the least talented among any in the history of the franchise. Most of the names have been long since forgotten, but not on here.

The NFL held its college draft in late November 1959, so the Dallas franchise could not have participated in it at that time. George Halas drafted SMU quarterback Don Meredith but then traded him to Dallas. Without a formal team, Murchison and Wynne signed Meredith to a personal services contract reportedly worth $150,000, which guaranteed that Dallas would have a franchise player for most of the decade. The other player Dallas signed at this time was New Mexico running back Don Perkins, who gained more than 6,000 yards rushing during his career in Dallas.

Expansion Draft

Other than Meredith and Perkins, most of the original 1960 Cowboys were not well-regarded and were picked up during the expansion draft or off the street. The expansion draft in 1960 allowed Dallas to take up to three players off of each of the existing 12 clubs, but those clubs were able to protect most of their players from the pool.

These facts have been posted here before, but here are some tidbits about the expansion draft and the results of the draft itself:

* Of the players selected, 22 played for the Cowboys at least during the 1960 season.
* The 22 players who made the 1960 team averaged 2.14 years with the team.
* 11 players played only one year with Dallas.
* Eight players (including Jack Patera, who was injured early in the 1961 season) played in 1960 and 1961.
* The three remaining players from the draft started for several years, including: Bob Fry, Tackle, 1960-64; Jerry Tubbs, Linebacker, 1960-66; and Frank Clarke, Wide Receiver, 1960-67.

Original Team Player Pos. Experience
Baltimore Colts L.G. Dupre RB 1955-59, Baltimore Colts; 1960-61, Dallas Cowboys.
Ray Krouse DE 1951-1955, N.Y. Giants; 1956-57, Detroit Lions; 1958-59, Baltimore Colts; 1960, Washington Redskins.
Dave Sherer WR/P 1959, Baltimore Colts; 1960, Dallas Cowboys.
Chicago Bears Don Healy DT 1958-59, Chicago Bears; 1960-61, Dallas Cowboys; 1962, Buffalo Bills (AFL).
Jack Johnson DB 1957-59, Chicago Bears; 1960-61, Buffalo Bills (AFL); 1961, Dallas Texans (AFL).
Pete Johnson RB 1959, Chicago Bears.
Cleveland Browns Leroy Bolden RB 1958-59, Cleveland Browns.
Frank Clarke WR/TE 1957-59, Cleveland Browns; 1960-67, Dallas Cowboys.
Ed Modzelewski RB 1952, Pittsburgh Steelers; 1955-59, Cleveland Browns.
Detroit Lions Charlie Ane C 1953-59, Detroit Lions
Gene Cronin LB 1956-59, Detroit Lions; 1960, Dallas Cowboys; 1961-62, Washington Redskins.
Jim Doran WR 1951-59, Detroit Lions; 1960-61, Dallas Cowboys.
Green Bay Packers Nate Borden DE 1953-59, Green Bay Packers; 1960-61, Dallas Cowboys; 1962, Buffalo Bills (AFL).
Bill Butler S 1959, Green Bay Packers; 1960, Dallas Cowboys; 1961, Pittsburgh Steelers; 1962-64, Minnesota Vikings.
Don McIlhenny RB 1956, Detroit Lions; 1957-59, Green Bay Packers; 1960-61, Dallas Cowboys; 1962, San Francisco 49ers.
Los Angeles Rams Tom Franckhauser CB 1959, Los Angeles Rams; 1960-61, Dallas Cowboys; 1962-63, Minnesota Vikings.
Bob Fry T 1953-59, Los Angeles Rams; 1960-64, Dallas Cowboys.
Duane Putnam G 1952-59, Los Angeles Rams; 1960, Dallas Cowboys; 1961, Cleveland Browns; 1962, Los Angeles Rams.
New York Giants Al Barry G 1954, 1957, Green Bay Packers; 1958-59, New York Giants; 1960, Los Angeles Chargers (AFL).
Melwood “Buzz” Guy G 1958-59, New York Giants; 1960, Dallas Cowboys; 1961, Denver Broncos (AFL); 1962, Houston Oilers (AFL).
Don Heinrich QB 1954-59, New York Giants; 1960, Dallas Cowboys; 1961, Oakland Raiders (AFL).
Philadelphia Eagles Dick Bielski TE 1955-59, Philadelphia Eagles; 1960-61, Dallas Cowboys; 1962-63, Baltimore Colts.
Gerry Delucca T 1959, Philadelphia Eagles.
Bil Striegel LB 1959, Philadelphia Eagles; 1960, Boston Patriots (AFL); 1960, Oakland Raiders (AFL)
Pittsburgh Steelers Ray Fisher T/DT 1959, Pittsburgh Steelers.
Bobby Luna RB 1955, San Francisco 49ers; 1959, Pittsburgh Steelers.
Ray Mathews WR 1951-59, Pittsburgh Steelers; 1960, Dallas Cowboys.
St. Louis (Chicago) Cardinals Bob Cross T 1952, Chicago Bears; 1954-55, Los Angeles Rams; 1957, San Francisco 49ers; 1958-59, Chicago Cardinals; 1960, Boston Patriots (AFL)
Ed Husmann DT 1953, 1956-59, Chicago Cardinals; 1960, Dallas Cowboys; 1961-65, Houston Oilers.
Jack Patera LB 1955-57, Baltimore Colts; 1958-59, Chicago Cardinals; 1960-61, Dallas Cowboys.
San Francisco 49ers Fred Dugan WR 1958-59, San Francisco 49ers; 1960, Dallas Cowboys; 1961-63, Washington Redskins.
John Gonzaga DE 1956-59, San Francisco 49ers; 1960, Dallas Cowboys; 1961-65, Detroit Lions; 1966, Denver Broncos (AFL).
Jerry Tubbs LB 1957-58, Chicago Cardinals; 1958-59, San Francisco 49ers; 1960-66, Dallas Cowboys.
Washington Redskins Tom Braatz LB 1957, 1958-59, Washington Redskins; 1958, Los Angeles Rams; 1960, Dallas Cowboys.
Joe Nicely C 1959, Washington Redskins (complete experience unknown).
Doyle Nix RB 1955, Green Bay Packers; 1958-59, Washington Redskins; 1960, Los Angeles Chargers (AFL); 1961, Dallas Texans (AFL).

Of the 27 players listed in Pro-Football-Encyclopedia as starters for the 1960 Cowboys, 16 came from the expansion draft. The Cowboys signed most of the other 11 as free agents or obtained them through trades. Here is a look at those starters.

Offensive Starters

QB Eddie LeBaron

Originally drafted: Washington Redskins / 10th / 123rd pick / 1950

LeBaron had retired from the Washington Redskins and was studying for the Texas bar in Midland, Texas. Although he had offers to do television work for ABC, he chose to agree to play for Dallas.

HB Don McIlhenny

Originally drafted: Detroit Lions / 3rd / 27th pick / 1956

Expansion draft pick from Green Bay.

HB L.G. Dupre

Originally drafted: Baltimore Colts / 3rd / 27th pick / 1955

Expansion draft pick from Baltimore. Dupre was a significant contributor to the 1958 NFL Champion Colts.

FB Walt Kowalczyk

Originally drafted: Philadelphia Eagles / 1st / 6th pick / 1958

Dallas obtained Kowalczyk in a trade with Detroit, which had signed the fullback after he spent two seasons with the Eagles.

FB Gene Babb

Originally drafted: San Francisco 49ers / 19th / 224th pick / 1957

Babb signed as a free agent after being out of football in 1959.

FL Billy Howton

Originally drafted: Green Bay Packers / 2nd / 15th pick / 1952

Howton signed as a free agent and was one of the best pick-ups for the original team.

SE Fred Dugan

Originally drafted: San Francisco 49ers / 7th / 80th pick / 1957

Expansion draft pick from San Francisco.

TE Jim Doran

Originally drafted: Detroit Lions / 5th / 55th pick / 1951

Expansion draft pick from Detroit.

LT Bob Fry

Originally drafted: Los Angeles Rams / 3rd / 36th pick / 1953

Expansion draft pick from the Los Angeles Rams.

LG Duane Putnam

Originally drafted: Los Angeles Rams / 6th / 66th pick / 1952

Expansion draft pick from the Los Angeles Rams.

C John Houser

The Cowboys claimed Houser off waivers after he spent three seasons with the L.A. Rams.

RG Buzz Guy

Originally drafted: Cleveland Browns / 3rd / 34th pick / 1958

Expansion draft pick from the New York Giants.

RG Mike Falls

Originally drafted: New York Giants / 20th / 237th pick / 1956

Falls was cut by Green Bay during training camp, and Dallas signed him just before the start of the 1960 season.

RT Paul Dickson

Originally drafted: Los Angeles Rams / 1st / 9th pick / 1959

Dallas signed Dickson after he played one season in Los Angeles.

Defensive Starters

LDE Nate Borden

Originally drafted: Green Bay Packers / 25th / 293rd pick / 1955

Expansion draft pick from Green Bay.

LDT Don Healy

Originally drafted: Chicago Bears / 3rd / 37th pick / 1958

Expansion draft pick from Chicago.

RDT Ed Husmann

Originally drafted: Chicago Cardinals / 9th / 99th pick / 1953

Expansion draft pick from the Cardinals.

RDE John Gonzaga

Expansion draft pick from San Francisco.

LLB Wayne Hansen

Originally drafted: Chicago Bears / 6th / 76th pick / 1950

Hansen was out of football in 1959 but signed with the Cowboys for the 1960 season.

MLB Jerry Tubbs

Originally drafted: Chicago Cardinals / 1st / 10th pick / 1957

Expansion draft pick from San Francisco.

RLB Gene Cronin

Originally drafted: Detroit Lions / 7th / 74th pick / 1956

Expansion draft pick from Detroit.

LCB Tom Franckhauser

Originally drafted: Los Angeles Rams / 3rd / 33rd pick / 1959

Expansion draft pick from the L.A. Rams.

RCB Don Bishop

The Cowboys claimed Bishop off waivers prior to the 1960 season.

LS Bob Bercich

Originally drafted: New York Giants / 15th / 179th pick / 1959

Dallas picked up Bercich from the Giants before the 1960 season.

RS Bill Butler

Originally drafted: Green Bay Packers / 19th / 217th pick / 1959

Expansion draft pick from Green Bay.

Special Teams

K Fred Cone

Originally drafted: Green Bay Packers / 3rd / 27th pick / 1951

Cone had been out of football for three years when he got his shot to make the Cowboys.

P Dave Sherer

Originally drafted: Baltimore Colts / 2nd / 24th pick / 1959

Expansion draft pick from Baltimore.

Other Significant Players

In addition to Meredith and Perkins, Dallas acquired two other players who had important roles in early team history. One was Frank Clarke, whom the Cowboys picked up in the expansion draft. The second was center Mike Connelly, who was an important backup lineman for many year and who started during the 1967 season when Dave Manders went out of action with an injury.

  • Fred Goodwin

    Ray Krouse ended up with the Redskins in 1960 (even though Dallas took him in the expansion draft) because he was traded to the ‘Skins in exchange for the rights to Eddie LeBaron, who had retired after the ’59 season in order to practice law in Texas.

  • Jim Robinson

    Do you remember a little running back who showed up for the first few weeks–actually was suited up for a few exhibition games–named “Pussyfoot” Jones? What can you share about him?

    Also, who played against Dallas in the first exhibition game in the Cotton Bowl? Was it the St. Louis Cardinals? I attended that game, and am trying to remember whether it was the first for the Cowboys.