Walt Garrison, a former NFL fullback and legendary player, with nine seasons and a Super Bowl win with the Dallas Cowboys, has passed away at the age of 79.
Garrison was selected by the Cowboys in the fifth round of the 1966 NFL Draft, after playing at Oklahoma State. He was also drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs, who were a part of the American Football League at the time.
Garrison played for the Cowboys from 1966 to 1974, retiring as the team’s No. 3 rusher and No. 4 receiver, having gained 3,886 rushing yards.
Garrison’s death was announced on the team’s website, but a cause of death was not revealed. Mickey Spagnola, a former sportswriter, wrote a lengthy tribute to Garrison that was published to the site.
According to Spagnola, Garrison wasn’t just a cowboy in name. He would reportedly go out after team meetings and compete in local rodeos as a steer wrestler, and would return to the team hotel just before an 11 p.m. curfew.
“In fact, he’s in more rodeo-related Hall of Fames than football, which spurred him on to becoming a pitchman for U.S. Tobacco’s ‘Skoal.’ You know, ‘just a pinch between your teeth,’” Spagnola wrote. “Swears he made more money doing rodeo and working of U.S. Tobacco than playing nine seasons with the Cowboys.”
“I wasn’t starting,” Garrison once said. “I was returning punts and kicks and covering on the kamikaze squad, that’s all I was doing. And, hell, you could get hurt worse on them than you can rodeoing. I didn’t think much about it, but the Cowboys did.”
Legendary Cowboys head coach Tom Landry reportedly told Garrison that he wouldn’t be allowed to continue moonlighting rodeo during the season, but Garrison continued to do so in the offseason.
“Coach Landry pointed out that there was a clause in my contract that if I got hurt doing another sport, that my contract would be null and void,” Garrison was quoted as saying. “And I said, ‘OK.’ I didn’t think rodeo was that dangerous.”
However, in 1975, Garrison was injured while steer wrestling, leading him to call it quits with the Cowboys. He finished his NFL career with 39 touchdowns and was a Pro Bowler during the 1972 season. He had 74 rushing yards on 14 carries in the team’s 14-3 win over the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl VI in 1972.
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