There are many legends in the history of the NFL. When it comes to wide receivers, it’s a rare thing for the name of the Hall of Fame worthy wide receiver from the Dallas Cowboys not to come up. Continuing our series of tributes to former Dallas Cowboys greats, I felt it would be an honor and a privilege to profile “Mr. Clutch” Drew Pearson.
Former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Drew Pearson was born on January 12th, 1951 in South River, New Jersey. Pearson began his football career at South River High School. He succeeded Joe Theisman as the quarterback.
Following a colorful high school career, former Dallas Cowboys WR Drew Pearson went on to the University of Tulsa. He was originally recruited as a quarterback. After only four starts as a sophomore in college, the coaches decided to convert him to a wide receiver before the beginning of the 1971 season. (Current Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Cole Beasley is also a converted quarterback.) As a junior, he caught 22 passes for 429 yards and three touchdowns. In spite of the fact that the Golden Hurricanes ran a ‘run-first’ offense, Pearson emerged with 33 receptions for 690 yards and 3 touchdowns as a senior.
Obviously, to stat enthusiasts, Drew Pearson’s college career numbers of 55 receptions for a mere 1,119 yards and 6 touchdowns weren’t very impressive. The mistake many scouts made, was overlooking the fact that he averaged 20.3 yards per reception, the fact that he was awarded the university’s President’s Award as the team’s “best spirited and most unselfish” member, and that the offense was geared toward running the ball. (Drew Pearson was inducted in to the Tulsa Hall Of Fame in 1985) Tom Landry of the Dallas Cowboys saw things in a different light.
Drew Pearson went undrafted in 1973, but the Dallas Cowboys signed him as an undrafted rookie free agent. In spite of requests by some of the assistant coaches to cut Pearson, Tom Landry admired his heart, love of the game and his “Rudy” like work ethic. Landry paid no mind to what anyone else said about him being too small, too slow etc, and kept him around. It paid off in spades. Drew Pearson went on to become one of the best wide receivers in NFL history. He attained career records of 489 receptions and 7,822 receiving yards, along with 189 rushing yards, 155 yards returning kickoffs, and 50 touchdowns: 48 receiving and two as a result fumble recoveries. Drew Pearson was named one of the NFL’s Top 20 All-Time wide receivers. Drew Pearson was also awarded for his achievements by being named to the NFL 1970s All-Decade Team.
Drew Pearson was named All-Pro three times (1974, 1976 â€œ77), All-NFC in 1975, and second Team All-NFC in 1978. In addition, Pearson was a Pro Bowler in 1974, 1976 and 1977. Pearson led the NFC in pass receptions in 1976 with 58. As a result of his excellent leadership ability, he was elected to be an offensive captain for the Dallas Cowboys in 1977, 1978, 1982 and 1983.
Drew Pearson helped lead the Dallas Cowboys to three Super Bowl appearances. In 1978 he played a major role in the Cowboys winning Super Bowl XII. Pearson scored a touchdown in Super Bowl X as well.
In 1979, Drew Pearson, Tony Hill and Tony Dorsett paved the way for the Dallas Cowboys to become the first team in NFL history to have two 1,000-yard wide receivers and a 1,000-yard running back in the same season. Pearson recorded 55 receptions, 1,026 yards and 8 touchdowns.
The Dallas Cowboys selected Drew Pearson as their 1980 nominee for the NFL Man of the Year award. Pearson is known as “Mr. Clutch” for his multiple game-winning catches in “clutch” situations. Pearson is most commonly known as the recipient of the “Hail Mary” pass. It was a reception from Roger Staubach that sealed the win in a 1975 playoff game. It is one of the most touted plays in NFL history. Drew Pearson also caught the game-winning touchdown in the 1973 playoff game against the Los Angeles Rams and the game-winning touchdown pass (from reserve quarterback Clint Longley) in the 1974 Thanksgiving game against the Washington Redskins.
In 1994 all three of those plays were named among the Top 75 plays in NFL history by NFL Films. All were included on a video and/or DVD by the same name.
In the 1980 playoff game against the Atlanta Falcons, Drew Pearson’s clutch receptions played a major role in the Dallas Cowboys Miraculous comeback. In the 1981 NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers, Drew Pearson made a game changing catch in the final moments of the game. It was a long pass from Danny White that would’ve been a touchdown and won the game for the Cowboys, but the 49ers cornerback Eric Wright made a one-handed tackle, stopping him just outside of field-goal range. Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Danny White, fumbled on the next play, sealing the victory for the 49ers. This untimely blunder by Danny White, put the SF 49ers in to Super Bowl XVI. Dallas Cowboys fans around the globe wanted his head on a platter. Unlike his predecessor, Roger Staubach, Danny White seemed to be “the lil engine that couldn’t”.
The Story continues on the next page. Click on the Continue link below my Author Bio.