In their previous 56 NFL Drafts the Cowboys have drafted 697 players.
Only once has that selection been 4th overall.
Like this year, in 1964 they needed help along the defensive line. Now: They have their sights set on Ohio State’s Joey Bosa. Then: Does the name Scott Appleton ring a bell?
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Appleton was a monster defensive tackle in college. At the University of Texas he was a captain and an All-American in 1963. He won the Outland Trophy as the country’s best defensive lineman and led the Longhorns to the National Championship. He was, to say the least, a coveted asset by professional football teams.
The 1964 draft was one of the greatest in NFL history. Six of the first 18 picks wound up in the Hall of Fame, including the Cowboys’ pick 17th overall, cornerback Mel Renfro. On that day Dallas drafted two more Hall of Famers, Bob Hayes and Roger Staubach.
But amongst legendary players such as Bob Brown, Charley Taylor and Carl Eller at the top of the draft, there was Appleton.
The Cowboys indeed drafted him No. 4 but, knowing he had intentions of playing for the rival AFL, traded his rights to Pittsburgh for star receiver Buddy Dial. Up North they call it one of the worst trades in Steelers’ history.
It’s not that Dial pushed the Cowboys to great heights. As quarterback Bobby Layne’s favorite target he led the NFL in average yards per catch and was a Pro Bowler in ’63, but managed only two touchdown catches in three injury-plagued seasons in Dallas.
Appleton, meanwhile, never played a down in Pittsburgh.
He instead signed with the Houston Oilers and – after three underwhelming seasons – was traded to the San Diego Chargers. His pro career lasted all of 70 games. Battling alcoholism, Appleton eventually managed a Dairy Queen near Houston. He spent the last part of his life speaking about his trouble with addiction before passing away of heart disease at the age of 50.
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.