[font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]By Doug Mitchell[/font]
[font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]The Daily Times
[font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Published September 13, 2005
[font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Drew Pearson played 11 seasons with the Dallas Cowboys from 1973-83, annually ranking among the NFL’s top wide receivers. Although his career came before the era of multi-millon dollar contracts, he wouldn’t trade his time in pro football for any other.
Pearson was in Kerrville Monday, helping the Kerrville Independent School District launch its new Safe Homes Program, which promotes drug- and alcohol-free environments for children. As evidenced by long line of autograph seekers before his address Monday, Pearson’s legend with the Cowboys remains strong.
Pearson caught 489 passes for 7,822 yards and 48 touchdowns while wearing the silver-and-blue, finishing among the game’s Top 10 receivers in career numbers at the time of his retirement. He was a three-time Pro Bowl selection and appeared in three Super Bowls for Dallas, helping the Cowboys win SB XII over the Denver Broncos.
While his numbers would make him a millionaire player in today’s NFL market, Pearson firmly believes he played at a higher — and better — level than most of today’s NFL receivers.
“People always ask me don’t I wish I was playing now, making all that money, doing the same things they do now and probably better than they do now,” Pearson said, proudly showing his SB XII ring. “But no, I don’t.
“I’ll take the money, I’m no dummy,” Pearson added. “But I would not trade the time I came through for the time in the game now. The game has changed so much, there’s not as much trust and loyalty and comraderie in the game. It’s all me, me, me, and not about we, we, we. When I played it was all team.
“When you play for one team for 11 years and have the same coach (Tom Landry), same front office (Tex Schramm and Gil Brandt), the same personnel as far as teammates, that consistency breeds quality as well as far as your performance on the field. That’s why the game of the ‘70s and ‘80s was of such a quality nature.”
Expansion and salaries, Pearson believes, are the main culprits he sees in a game where mistakes on the field are more frequent than when he played.
“It got watered down when they added more teams into the league, added the salary cap,” Pearson said. “It gets some of the quality players out and some the younger players in, but it hurts the quality of the game.
“Even though I’m a wide receiver and the rules favor receivers to catch a lot of passes, there’s no way I would trade my 11 years with Cowboys and the time I played with them.”
Now a successful sports merchandiser and marketer, Pearson believes programs such as Safe Homes are just as important to developing athletes as having the size, speed and skills on the field.
“Being an athlete doesn’t mean you perform just on the field or the court or the baseball diamond. It’s two-fold,” Pearson said. “It’s not what you do on the field, but off it as well that’s just as important.
“We don’t worry about athletes as much becasue they’re involved in sports, and their coaches and parents are always beating on them, knowing if they get involved in drugs or alcohol they might not be playing that sport anymore. What we’re talking about here is the whole young adult community, whether you’re an athlete, a student, or a student-athlete, it doesn’t matter.
You still have to make the right decisions and decisions that are good for you. we know how prevalent drugs and alcohol are in our society, but the bottom line is no good stories come out of that. They’re all negative stories, and kids have to see that, the ramifications of what they might be getting into.”
The keys to getting that message across, Pearson said, do not come from famous athletes or giving substance abuse a glamorous profile.
“You have to be cautious of the things out there, because there’s people that want to pull you to where they are, instead of you reaching down and pulling them up,” Pearson said. “They don’t want to reach for that hand. They’re sticking their hand up to pull you down.
“I’m not here to be a role model for all these kids in Kerrville, I’m a role model for my kids and grandchildren,” Pearson added. “That said, if the things I’m doing are something people want to pull from, use as an example, then fine, do it.
“But the responsibility for each and every person doesn’t rest on the shoulders of Drew Pearson, it rests on the shoulders of the parents of these kids, to teach them to do the right thing.”
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