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Drew Pearson

Dallas Cowboys Great and Pro Football Hall of Famer

Undrafted out of the University of Tulsa, Drew Pearson made the Dallas roster as a free agent in 1973 because he could contribute on the Cowboys’ special teams. By the time his career ended 11 seasons and 156 regular-season games later, he had left his mark as the franchise’s all-time leader in most receiving categories and established himself as one of the National Football League’s best clutch performers.

Pearson’s big opportunity came midway through his rookie season when a teammate got injured. Starting six games, he finished with 22 receptions for 388 yards and two touchdowns. He added two touchdown catches in a postseason win over the Los Angeles Rams.

Quickly becoming the team’s main receiving threat, Pearson led the Cowboys with 62 catches for 1,087 yards in 1974—the first of four consecutive seasons leading the team in both categories.

Pearson’s 870 receiving yards in his All-Pro season in 1977 led the NFL. He followed that regular season with seven catches for 113 yards in the postseason as the Cowboys won Super Bowl XII, one of his three Super Bowl appearances.

At the time of his retirement, Pearson was the Cowboys’ all-time leader for receptions (489) and receiving yards (7,822). He caught 48 touchdown passes. He was an All-Pro three times, a three-time Pro Bowl selection and a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1970s.

Statistics alone don’t tell his story, however. It’s the big plays and when he made them that live in NFL lore. Pearson totaled 68 receptions for 1,131 yards (16.6 average) in 22 postseason games. He scored eight times, perhaps no touchdown more memorable than the 50-yard “Hail Mary” throw from Roger Staubach that beat the Minnesota Vikings in the waning seconds of their 1975 divisional playoff game, helping the Cowboys reach Super Bowl X.

Pearson was on the receiving end of three game-deciding plays that NFL Films put on one of its “Top 75 Plays in NFL History” lists, and he also delivered a key block on a fourth play: Tony Dorsett’s NFL record 99-yard touchdown run.

He was the team’s nominee for the NFL Man of the Year Award in 1980 and was voted into the Dallas Cowboys’ Ring of Honor in 2011.