Dallas Cowboys Legend Frank Clarke, the Man Behind Many Sports Firsts

During Black History Month, NBC 5 is taking a closer look at the men and women who broke barriers and the people shaping the future for North Texas

Frank Clarke (first row, center, in white shirt) seen in a 1968 photo of the opening of an East Dallas recreation center.
Jack Beers | The Dallas Morning News

Frank Clarke (1934-2018) has been widely recognized as the first African American star player on the Dallas Cowboys, during a time when the team played in a racially-divided Dallas.

Just 26-years-old at the time, Clarke was drafted from Cleveland to Dallas during what was called the “expansion draft” at the time.

Clarke held the Cowboys team record for touchdowns in a season until Cowboys wide receiver Terrell Owens broke that record in 2007. Dez Bryant would then pass that record with his 16 touchdowns in 2014.

The football field would not be the only place Clarke would break barriers. He is also known as the first, black sports anchor in Dallas and the first black NFL analyst for CBS.

He went on to total 5,214 yards, 281 catches and 51 touchdowns during his eight-year Cowboys career.

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