The Most Infamous Nickname You’ve Never Heard

The year was 1961. The Dallas Cowboys were preparing for their second year in the league after going 0-11-1 in 1960.

The Cowboys had their training camp at St. Olaf College in Minnesota. The team was looking for some talent.

Found it did they (Yoda speak) in a little receiver from Oregon. ¬†Standing at just 5’4″ and weighing only 147 pounds, this player looked¬†“like a loose helmet on the ground until he starts moving,” according to Dallas Morning News writer Charles Burton.

Moreover, Tom Landry called him a key to the Cowboys’ chances that year. More on that below.

The player caught everyone’s attention in camp with a 71-yard touchdown reception from Don Meredith during a scrimmage.

The player? Cleveland “Pussyfoot” Jones.

Cleveland "Pussyfoot" Jones. A career that just wasn't meant to be.

Cleveland “Pussyfoot” Jones. A career that just wasn’t meant to be.

The DMN later noted that Pussyfoot’s legend grew “rather large” during training camp. But alas, the team cut him on August 28, 1961. He played in two preseason games but never touched the ball.

Apparently, news of Pussyfoot’s release travelled quite slowly. On September 6, 1961, more than a week after the Cowboys cut Pussyfoot, the Miami News published a piece entitled “‘Pussyfoot’ Key to Dallas Hopes.” The author of the piece was, of course, head coach Tom Landry.

An excerpt:

Two of our biggest weaknesses last season were an inexperienced defensive secondary and lack of speed on offense.

We traded for veteran Dick Moegle during the off-season. Dicky has been a big help to us through training camp, although he was out of action for neary a month with an injured leg.

He has given our young defensive halfbacks and safeties some valuable pointers and has helped get them in a keen competitive frame of mind.

Offensively, we’ve found some pleasant surprises. Two of them are free agents we signed from Oregon State. [MC: Marsh played at Oregon State, but Jones played at the University of Oregon]

One is Amos Marsh, who was an end and sprint champion in college. We put him at fullback the first day of camp and nobody’s been able to get him out of that position yet.

The other is Cleveland (Pussyfoot) Jones, who towers 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighs 147 pounds. He’s a quick, clever pass receiver as a wingback and he’s willing to take on any big man his blocking assignment calls for. He’s a real key to our chances.

Perhaps needless to say, Pussyfoot never played in the NFL.

The other players did have decent careers. Marsh played in Dallas from 1961 to 1964, plus another three years in Detroit. Moegle started 14 games in Dallas in 1961, but that was his final season in the NFL.

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Article by Matt Cordon

Blogging impatiently about the Cowboys since 2006. Being a fan since 1977 hasn't required quite as much patience.
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