Quarterback Sucker-Punched at Training Camp? Cowboys Have Endured It

There go NFL teams, again copying the Dallas Cowboys. A sucker-punch of the starting quarterback with the offender being instantly deported? Been there, done that.

Right, Roger Staubach?

While the national media slobbers over the Jets’ Geno Smith missing 6-10 weeks with a broken jaw after being punched at camp by teammate IK Enemkpali, the Cowboys endured a similar situation almost 40 years ago.

Clint Longley was the backup who rallied the Cowboys over the Redskins on Thanksgiving Day 1974. But he was also the disgruntled reserve who punched his ticket out of Dallas by attacking Captain America.

At Training Camp in Thousand Oaks, California in 1976 the two quarterbacks got into a heated argument after Longley made a derogatory remark about receiver Drew Pearson.

Longley was already in a foul mood, having been demoted to the third team in favor of Danny White.

The two exchanged shoves at practice, but the episode spilled over two days later when Longley, who felt he deserved more playing time and desired to play on another team, waited until Staubach was pulling on his shoulder pads and then hit him in the face with a punch that knocked the future Hall of Famer crashing into his locker.

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Randy White bear-hugged Longley and led him out of the locker room. The backup went back to his dorm and was traded to the Chargers the next day.

To this day Staubach has a scar over his left eye from the sucker-punch. Longley disappeared from the NFL after one year – and only one start – in San Diego. And the Cowboys? They used the improved first-round pick from the Chargers in the trade in a package to move up the 2nd pick in the 1977 draft where they selected a running back named Tony Dorsett.

So, yeah, to make room for White and Dorsett, everybody except Staubach thinks Longley’s sucker-punch was worth it.

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 lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.

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