Don Perkins: Ring of Honor

Discussion in 'History Zone' started by Hostile, Apr 13, 2007.

  1. Hostile

    Hostile The Duke

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    :star: 43 - Don Perkins :star:
    1961 - 1968
    RB, New Mexico


    6 time Pro Bowl...1961 - 63, 66 - 68
    1 time All Pro...1962

    Inducted in Cowboys Ring of Honor 11/7/76

    Link to Don Perkins' Ring of Honor page.

    When Don Perkins retired following an eight-year career with the Dallas Cowboys, only four other running backs in NFL history had rushed for more yards than his 6,217. "I was small," the 5-10, 204-pound Perkins once said, "but I was one that was afraid. When you're scared, you can run real fast."
    Perkins still ranks third on the franchise's all-time rushing list. Not bad since the first two are Emmitt Smith, headed to the Pro Football Hall of Fame once he retires, and Tony Dorsett, already enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

    But Perkins always will be known as the first Cowboy to rush for 6,000 career yards, doing so first as a running back and finally as a fullback.

    Perkins' six seasons leading the team in rushing ranks third, as does his 42 career rushing touchdowns. His 10, 100-yard games in his eight-year career ranks fourth in club history, trailing only Smith, Dorsett and Calvin Hill. And his four consecutive years leading the team in rushing touchdowns ranks has him in a second-place tie behind only Smith.

    "He was one of the best blocking fullbacks in the league," former teammate Bob Lilly said in 1976, a tribute to his all-around game, especially in the later years when he was moved to fullback.

    Perkins was a six-time Pro Bowl selection, and in 1961 was named the NFL Rookie of the Year, following that up with All-Pro honors in 1962.

    Perkins retired in 1969 on the day that players were to report to training camp. Many of his teammates and coaches thought he was leaving the game too early, but Perkins knew it was time to move on, even though he would finish ranking among ranking among the top 10 NFL rushers in each of his eight seasons.

    "I don't feel I'm washed up," Perkins said, "but then again I'm not naive enough to believe I'm just coming into my own either."

    But it didn't take long to inscribe Perkins' name into the team's Ring of Honor, inducted in 1976 along with his quarterback throughout his career, Don Meredith.

    Perkins was a standout running back at the University of New Mexico where he was a three-time All-Skyline selection before signing with the Cowboys.

    Born March 4, 1938, in Waterloo, Iowa.

    ABQCOWBOY Moderator Staff Member

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    My most lasting memory of Don Perkins is not one that took place while a member of the Dallas Cowboys. My most lasting memory of Don Perkins is as a former YAFL coach and Don Perkins speaking to young football players. It's actually a terrible story for Mr. Perkins but a good story in that he was good enough to speak on the issue. Don Perkins son played for Academy HS here in Albuquerque. As some may know, Mr. Perkins played for UNM before being drafted by the then Baltimore Colts. Don's son was a stand out RB here at Academy. So, it happened that Don Perkins son broke his neck while playing in a HS game. Mr. Perkins was obviously distraught about this and for a good while, was not very public. There is also a very good story here about how Don Meredith and how he helped Don Perkins get through this time, but that is another story. Anyway, Don Perkins was good enough to speak to all the young players in the area about the importance of good coaching and technique. How important it was to play the game with safe technique and how important it was to listen to the coaching about such things. Basically, just trying to support YAFL and HS Football in the area. I can't imagine how difficult that must be for him. Football was so good to him but the very thing that he loved also caused such pain to his family. I always thought that it must have been a very tough thing for him to continue to support football after all that had happened. Showed great character to be able to do this IMO. I don't know him well or even personally but as and advocate of Youth Football, I always appriciated the fact that he did this. It could not have been easy for him.
  3. Hostile

    Hostile The Duke

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    Don Perkins left the Cowboys before I started watching football but when I became a Cowboys fan I knew immediately who he was. I grew up in New Mexico, and two of the most important players in Cowboys history have New Mexico roots. They are Don Perkins who played college ball for the UNM Lobos and Roger Staubach who played High School football at the New Mexico Military Institute.

    At one time New Mexico had a Governor named Jerry Apodaca. His best friend was my Uncle Conrad, who was also in politics. In fact he ran for the Senate in New Mexico and won, but was killed before he ever took office. Jerry Apodaca was my cousin Todd's Godfather.

    One year for Todd's birthday we went to Santa Fe to the Governor's mansion for his birthday party. Jerry Apodaca had invited Don Perkins to stop by and wish Todd happy birthday. No one was more excited to meet him than I was. As I've told you all before, my family are all Packers fans. The schmucks.

    Don Perkins is about as genuinely friendly as anyone I have ever met. He didn't stay long, only 10 or 15 minutes, as he felt he was intruding on a party. As I have grown older I have come to realize just how decent that was of him to do. He didn't know Todd or his family. He knew Jerry Apodaca and did it as a favor to him because Jerry asked. There literally was nothing in it for him to gain. He was just being nice.

    He's good at that. The man is pure class.

    THUMPER Papa

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    Don Perkins is probably the most underrate RB of all-time. When he retired after only 8 seasons in the NFL he was 5th all-time in rushing yards with 6217 yards, behind: Jim Brown-12312, Joe Perry-9723, Jim Taylor-8597, an John Henry Johnson-6803.

    He was selected to 6 Pro-Bowls in 8 years but to my knowledge he has never been a finalist for election to the HoF even though he had more rushing yards than 10 "modern era" RBs who are in the HoF (several of whom were still playing when Perkins was):

    Steve Van Buren - 5860, Hugh McElhenny - 5281, Lenny Moore - 5174, Ollie Matson - 5173, Gale Sayers - 4956, Marion Motley - 4720, Paul Hornung - 3711, Frank Gifford - 3609, Charlie Trippi - 3506, and Doak Walker - 1520. (Granted, Moore and Gifford are in more for their receiving than for their running but they were primarily RBs throughout their careers).

    If Perkins hadn't retired after only 8 seasons he would probably have been thought of more highly by the mediots, although that didn't seem to be a hindrance regarding Sayers who only played 7 years and missed a lot of time due to injury.

    Perkins also suffered from playing in Landry's offense where we always used 2 RBs (we really didn't differentiate between FB and HB like most teams did). In 1962 Perkins gained 945 yards but his running mate, Amos Marsh gained 802. Compare this with the leader that year, Jim Taylor, who gained 1474 yards but his running mate, Tom Moore, only had 377. Taylor carried the ball 50 more times than Perkins that year. If Perkins had played in an offense that featured a primary RB then his numbers would have been higher and he would have had a few 1000+ yard seasons.

    Still, the players and coaches who selected the pro-bowl rosters back then thought Don was pretty darn good as he only missed it twice in his career in 1964 & 65 when his carries went down to below 180 both seasons.

    What most people who know him or have met him talk about is what a wonderfully nice guy he is. Tom Landry just loved him and none of his teammates ever had anything negative to say about him that I recall.
  5. Hostile

    Hostile The Duke

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    THUMPER Papa

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    Interesting that in each of those pictures another Cowboys player is on the ground.
  7. bbgun

    bbgun Benched

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    Notice the three stripes on the sleeves?

    Perkins has always struck me as the forgotten Cowboy. We're used to overlooking old linemen like Manders or Neely, but not high-profile running backs like Don. I guess that's the price he paid for playing the game before it really took off on television.
  8. silverbear

    silverbear Semi-Official Loose Cannon

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    Don was the only Cowboys player I ever got to meet... I was in college down in UTEP in the early 70s, and Don was broadcasting WAC basketball games then... I met him the night before UTEP played Arizona State at our place...

    A gracious man, highly intelligent, VERY well-spoken... I know, that can be a racist thing to say about a black man, but I mean he'd have been considered articulate by Oxford-educated Brits... and he had a voice for TV, very well-modulated...

    I was very impressed with him...
  9. Juke99

    Juke99 ...Abbey someone

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    Great quickness in an era when FB's actually carried the ball.

    I think he started out as a HB.

    Retired when he was still a very effective RB.

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