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Tony Dorsett - A Relationship Gone Bad

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Prior to the 1985 season things began to sour between Dorsett and the Cowboys organization. Dorsett decided to hold out, demanding that his contract be renegotiated. Dorsett was angry because he believed that the Cowboys management was responsible for the public airing of his financial problems, and because Randy White, the Cowboys' celebrated defensive tackle, had been awarded a larger contract than Dorsett. When the Cowboys brought on running back Herschel Walker, Dorsett went on a tirade because Walker's $5 million five-year contract exceeded his own $4.5 million five-year contract.

The signing of Walker proved to be the beginning of the end for Dorsett's days in Dallas. Although Dorsett personally liked Walker, the younger running back was everything that Dorsett had never been: bigger, younger, and in possession of a gentler nature that fit the all-American image of Dallas Cowboy football. Suddenly Dorsett was sharing time in the back field, and it deeply bruised his ego. On November 22, 1987, in a game against the Miami Dolphins, for the first time in his career, Dorsett was listed in the stats as DNP (Did Not Play). It was an embarrassment and an insult that Dorsett could not stomach. He began loudly demanding to be traded.

Dorsett eventually got his wish, and after eleven seasons in a Cowboy uniform, he was traded to the Denver Broncos. After a long, frustrating season in Dallas, Dorsett told Sports Illustrated that he was excited about the change, remarking, "Mentally, I couldn't feel better. As far as my reputation for being a troublemaker, well, I don't back off. The Cowboys try to mold everyone in their image, and I couldn't be molded." Despite his positive outlook, injuries limited Dorsett's playing time with the Broncos during the 1988 season. When he suffered from torn knee ligaments during training camp the following year, Dorsett was forced to retire.

At the age of thirty-four, when Dorsett joined the Broncos, he could still run forty yards in 4.3 seconds. According to the Pro Football Hall of Fame's tribute to Dorsett, "[He] was a player who had it all … the swift, smooth strides; the sharp, crisp cuts; the uncanny knack of finding daylight in the chaos along the line of scrimmage. Every time he touched a football, opponents shuddered. He turned small gainers into big gainers and routine plays into touchdowns." In 1994 Dorsett, in his first year of eligibility, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Career Statistics

Rushing Receiving
Yr Team GP ATT YDS AVG TD REC YDS AVG TD
Dallas: Dallas Cowboys; Denver: Denver Broncos.
1977 Dallas 14 208 1007 4.8 12 29 273 9.4 1
1978 Dallas 16 290 1325 4.6 7 37 378 10.2 2
1979 Dallas 14 250 1107 4.4 6 45 375 8.3 1
1980 Dallas 15 278 1185 4.3 11 34 263 7.7 0
1981 Dallas 16 342 1646 4.8 4 32 325 10.2 2
1982 Dallas 9 177 745 4.2 5 24 179 7.5 0
1983 Dallas 16 289 1321 4.6 8 40 287 7.2 1
1984 Dallas 16 302 1189 3.9 6 51 459 9.0 1
1985 Dallas 16 305 1307 4.3 7 46 449 9.8 3
1986 Dallas 13 184 748 4.1 5 25 267 10.7 1
1987 Dallas 12 130 456 3.5 1 19 177 9.3 1
1988 Denver 16 181 703 3.9 5 16 122 7.6 0
TOTAL 173 2936 12739 4.3 77 398 3554 8.9 13
Tony Dorsett - Career Statistics [next] [back] Tony Dorsett - Related Biography: Football Player Herschel Walker

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