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Don Perkins
Date of birth: March 4, 1938 (1938-03-04) (age 71)
Place of birth: Waterloo, Iowa
Career information
Position(s): Halfback
College: New Mexico
NFL Draft: 1960 / Round: 9 / Pick: 106
(By the Baltimore Colts)
 As player:
1961-1968 Dallas Cowboys
Career highlights and awards
Pro Bowls: 6
Honors: 1961 NFL Rookie of the Year

Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor

Playing stats at

Donald Anthony Perkins (born March 4, 1938 in Waterloo, Iowa) is a former American football halfback who spent eight seasons with the NFL's Dallas Cowboys.


Early days

Native of Waterloo, Iowa, Perkins earned 8 letters for Waterloo West High School, 4 each in football and track (sprinter).

Perkins captained the track team by the time he was a junior, started in basketball, played both offense and defense in football.

He was president of the student body during his senior year.

In 1955 his team went undefeated and he made the first all-state team as a halfback.

College career

Don Perkins played college football at the University of New Mexico, where he played halfback, and was also a kickoff returner. He was a three-time All-Skyline selection from 1957-1959, and the Skyline Sophomore of the year in 1957. In 1958, he led the nation in kickoff returns.

He was coached by NFL Hall of Famer Marv Levy, who has stated in several occasions, that Perkins was one of the greatest players he ever coached. He even mentioned him in his NFL Hall of Fame induction speech.

Perkins set 12 records as a three-year halfback starter. The school retired his number (43) when he completed his career - a first in the University of New Mexico history.

He ranks 14th in the University of New Mexico career rushing list with 2,001 yards.

He was inducted into the Albuquerque Sports Hall of Fame and the University of New Mexico Hall of Honor.

NFL career

Perkins signed a personal-services contract with the Dallas Cowboys for a $1,500 bonus and a $10,000 salary. This meant he would play for the Cowboys if and when they received an NFL franchise. But he was drafted in the 1960 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Colts, before he was granted to an NFL franchise. Because of this issue, the Colts were compensated with a Cowboy's 9th round draft pick, in the 1961 NFL Draft.

They did eventually, and although Baltimore drafted him, the Colts were given compensation -- Perkins doesn't recall what it was -- and Don went immediately to Dallas for the team's first year in 1960.

Well, almost. First, he was supposed to play in the annual College All-Star game in Chicago, but a broken foot in training camp not only wrecked those plans but forced him to miss the entire season.

He sat out the entire 1960 season with a broken foot (fifth metatarsal) he suffered in training camp.

Perkins began playing with the Cowboys in 1961, rushing for 4.1 yards per carry, and was named NFL rookie of the year. He was a runner who lacked long-distance speed, but made up for it with outstanding quickness and deft agility. He also had great balance and could really cut.

He was considered a superb blocker. Perkins has said that he was a blocker first and a runner second, although he finished in the NFL’s top 10 rushing in each of his eight seasons in the league.

He became the first running back in Cowboys' history to run for 100 yards in a game. It came against the expansion Minnesota Vikings at the Cotton Bowl on September 24 1961, when he rushed for 108 yards on 17 carries.

Perkins' best year was in 1962, when he rushed for 945 yards and seven touchdowns, becoming the first Cowboy to make the All-NFL team.

He was coming off his two best all-around seasons when he decided to retire prior to the 1969 season. His career lasted eight years, all of them with the Dallas Cowboys. At the time only four other NFL running backs had rushed for more than his 6,217 yards.

Perkins is third on the Cowboys' all-time list behind Emmitt Smith, Tony Dorsett and was named to six Pro Bowl teams. He gained a reputation in the NFL for his courage and his resolve on some of worst teams in Dallas Cowboys history.

Perkins wore No. 43, and even though he played the fullback position at 5-10 204-pounds, he led the Dallas Cowboys in rushing, in six of his eight NFL seasons, which ranks third in club history, as does his 42 career rushing touchdowns.

His ten career, 100-yard games ranks fourth in club history. Perkins had four consecutive seasons leading the team in rushing touchdowns, tied for second place behind only Emmitt Smith.

Probably the only thing he couldn't do was complete Tom Landry’s annual “mile run” in camp.

Tom Landry once told NFL Films: "Perkins was in the toughest times,", "The guy was a remarkable runner, a great pass blocker and one of the best players in our history."

Don Perkins was inducted into the Ring of Honor at Texas Stadium alongside his quarterback Don Meredith in 1976. Only Bob Lilly got inducted ahead of them, in 1975.

Walt Garrison was the player that replaced him in the starting lineup. Garrison once said: "Don Perkins was the best fullback the Dallas Cowboys ever had".

In 2006, he was inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame.

Post-Football life

Perkins was a talk show analyst for CBS Sports, a football analyst for CBS Sports, ABC Sports, and other television and radio networks.

He was the director of the Work Incentive Program for the State of New Mexico Department of Human Services from 1972 to 1985.

He served on both the Executive board of US West and the Board of Trustees for University Hospital from 1990 to 1993.

He is currently a member of the Northwest Mesa Branch of the NAACP.

A father of four children and grandfather of ten, he has been active in local theater, public speaking, broadcasting at the local and national level, and is presently retired from the city of Albuquerque.

External links



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