Underappreciated Dallas Cowboys: Fullback

This is part of the series on the All-Time Team of Underappreciated Dallas Cowboys.

The ESPN poll for the Dallas Cowboys Greatest Team does not include the fullback position specifically. This explains why Daryl Johnston did not receive any votes. However, other players who were fullbacks in Tom Landry’s system earned votes, including Don Perkins and Walt Garrison.

Pro-Football-Reference must give more weight to yardage than to other considerations for its AV rating, such as blocking. Accordingly, Johnston only ranks fifth on the list of players who primarily served as fullbacks. Below is the complete list.

Rk From To G Pos AV ?
1 Don Perkins 1961 1968 107 FB 76
2 Walt Garrison 1966 1974 119 RB 57
3 Robert Newhouse 1972 1982 136 RB 54
4 Ron Springs 1979 1984 88 RB 36
5 Daryl Johnston 1989 1998 150 RB 30
6 Timmy Newsome 1980 1988 106 RB 26
7 Amos Marsh 1961 1964 54 FB 22
8 Scott Laidlaw 1975 1979 67 RB 16
9 Mike Dowdle 1960 1962 30 FB 11
10 Richie Anderson 2003 2004 27 FB 10
11 Gene Babb 1960 1961 24 FB 9
12 Robert Thomas 1998 2002 68 FB 8
13 Sam Baker 1962 1963 28 FB 6
14 Tommie Agee 1990 1992 48 RB 6
15 J.W. Lockett 1961 1962 26 FB 5
16 Lincoln Coleman 1993 1994 18 FB 5
17 Deon Anderson 2007 2009 38 FB 4
18 Darian Barnes 2004 2004 16 FB 2
19 Jamar Martin 2003 2003 14 FB 1
20 Merrill Douglas 1961 1961 6 FB 1
21 Fred Cone 1960 1960 12 FB 1
22 Derrick Gainer 1993 1993 11 RB 1
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 3/7/2011.

For this poll, I am not going to exclude anyone for being “too” appreciated. Instead, we will focus on these players:

1. Perkins. He was the first star back on the Cowboys, earning a position in the Ring of Honor. He received .7% (that’s point-seven percent) of the ESPN votes.

2. Garrison: Still among the most popular Cowboys in history, he earned a few votes on the ESPN poll.

3. Newhouse: Newhouse was the team’s leading rusher in 1975 before taking more of a complementary role for the rest of his career.

4. Johnston: “Moose” rivals any player as the most popular in team history.  Unlike the others on this list, he served primarily as a blocker for nearly his entire career.

5. Newsome: Newsome was the last of the Landry-style fullbacks. He had only one season where he gained more yards on the ground than as a receiver.

Here were the results:

Johnston, 52%
Perkins, 16%
Garrison, 13%
Newhouse, 10%
Newsome, 6%
Springs, 3%

  • fgoodwin

    I went with Perkins — I think he was the greatest FB in Cowboy history.

    The fact that no one these days even remembers him is a serious indictment of modern day “fans” (and I use that term lightly). For most of today’s fans, Cowboys history started with Jerry & the Triplets. They forget that the Cowboys were already “America’s Team” when Jerry bought the franchise.

    Players like Perkins, Jerry Tubbs, Amos Marsh, etc. toiled away in the days when wins (and fans) were few and far between. They set the stage for the team’s renaissance under Roger, Drew, Harvey, Randy & Tony.

    Guys like Perkins made the Cowboys what they are today, and should get their props.

  • Anonymous

    Perkins received my vote as well. I would bet that if you asked the average fan to say something about each member of the Ring of Honor, that fan would have the most difficult time even identifying Perkins.

  • fgoodwin

    True — every member of the ROH won at least one Super Bowl, except for Meredith & Perkins. Of course, everyone remembers Meredith because of his MNF gig and because of the many eulogies of his recent passing. But no one remembers Perkins — so it’s up to us to fan the flames for the old-timers!

  • Timothytrump

    I picked Ron Springs (other). We all remember him for his role as lead blocker and running mate for Tony Dorsett. But I wonder how many people recognize how important he really was as a rusher and receiver. Caught 76 passes one year. I am a big fan of Don Perkins as I watched him when I was younger. He had one of he great TD runs against GB in the 1966 championship game. when he retired, he was 5th in career rushing yards in NFL history. All of the players ahead of him (Jim Brown, Joe Perry, Ollie Matson, and Jim Taylor) are in the HOF. I believe a couple of more good seasons, he might have been a candidate.

  • fgoodwin

    Springs certainly deserves some consideration. He basically took over the role of third-down back after Preston Pearson retired following the 1980 season.

  • Anonymous

    I should have added Springs to the poll. He was kind of a ‘tweener in terms of whether he was a running back or fullback. He had more than 1,100 yards from scrimmage in 1983 and nearly had 1,000 yard in 1981. That’s quite impressive, given that the offense’s focus was on Tony Dorsett, Tony Hill, Drew Pearson, and Doug Cosbie.

  • Timothytrump

    Fred and others–you are certainly right about Don Perkins greatness. For those who are curious about his skills, on Hulu there is a game of week video for 1967 Dallas vs. Baltimore. Don got a lot of “touches” in that game and is a good representation of his ability to perform, especially against a very good defense.