I was a wide-eyed 9-year-old when I ran into the ‘House.
Robert Newhouse, that is.
Growing up a huge Cowboys fan, I was giddy when the family took me to Duncanville High School’s gym one summer night for something called Donkey Basketball. I kid you not. It was Cowboys players, riding donkeys and attempting to play basketball. As confused as I was, I was even more elated.
After the game the players signed autographs. And one of my most cherished belonged to No. 44. He wasn’t one of the biggest or most talented Cowboys ever, but he was one of the Top 10 toughest. His running style was beast mode before Marshawn Lynch took his first handoff.
Newhouse died Tuesday at 64 after a long illness including a stroke and heart disease.
A product of Longview, Newhouse played at the University of Houston before joining the Cowboys in ’72. With turbine-like, 44-inch thighs, Newhouse spent a decade bulling for tough inside yards or opening holes as the lead fullback blocker for Hall-of-Famer Tony Dorsett. In ’75 he rushed for 930 yards with two touchdowns and with 4,784 yards remains fifth on Dallas’ all-time rushing list.
Tackling him was like trying to harness a bowling ball.
Newhouse’s most memorable play was his halfback pass to Golden Richards for a touchdown in Super Bowl XII. His most memorable moment? When, after a typical run when he broke several tackles, Monday Night Football analyst Howard Cosell exclaimed of Newhouse: “Look at that little monkey run!”
I got to meet Newhouse and interviewed him several times. He was a genuinely good guy, and the most underrated Cowboys players of all-time.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.