Dallas Cowboys legend Don Perkins passed away on Friday, June 10. He was 84 years old.
A Cowboys Ring of Honor inductee, Perkins is one of the best running backs in the franchise’s history. He has the fourth-most rushing yards and fifth-most rushing touchdowns in team history.
The Cowboys released this statement regarding the news:
“We were all deeply saddened by the passing of Don Perkins. As one of the first players to sign with the Dallas Cowboys, Don was a man who set the standard for future generations of Cowboys running backs. He laid the foundation for the strong history of the position in Dallas, and it is a true testament to his skill, ability and versatility that he is still the fourth-leading rusher in franchise history to this date. He was a true family man, a pillar of his community, a well-deserved Ring of Honor member and a selfless teammate. Our condolences and deepest sympathy go out to Don’s family, friends and loved ones.”
The first dominant Cowboys running back
Dallas entered the NFL as an expansion team in 1960, the same season Perkins joined the club. But Perkins suffered a foot injury that benched him for the entirety of the Cowboys inaugural season.
The Waterloo, Iowa native spent his entire career in Dallas, playing from 1961 to 1968.
Under legendary Cowboys coach Tom Landry, the team struggled early on. It took the Cowboys seven seasons before they finished with a record greater than .500. Perkins played a significant role in helping to turn things around for what would become one of the most storied franchises in the NFL.
The Baltimore Colts drafted the University of New Mexico product in round nine of the 1960 draft. But Perkins already inked a personal services contract with Dallas, so the Cowboys just had to send a ninth round pick back to the Colts. Not bad value for a middle-round pick.
Yes, you read that right. Back then round nine was just about the middle. In 1960, the NFL Draft spanned 20 rounds. Imagine how long ESPN could’ve stretched that broadcast coverage out for? At least a month.
In seven of Dallas’ first nine seasons in the NFL, Perkins led the team in rushing yards. His best year came in 1962, when he rushed for 945 yards and seven touchdowns. That same season, Perkins was given his only All Pro honor and it was one of six seasons as a pro bowler.
Perkins was no slouch in the passing game, especially considering aerial attacks weren’t as prevalent back then. His career highs as a receiver came his rookie year, hauling in 32 catches for 298 yards.