June 19, 2012

Rookie of the Year: Tony Dorsett, 1977

Running Back, Dallas Cowboys

Age: 23
College: Pittsburgh
Height: 5’11”  Weight: 192

Dorsett had a brilliant college career, receiving All-American recognition in all four years and culminating in Pitt winning a national championship and the star running back winning the 1976 Heisman Trophy. The Cowboys traded for Seattle’s second overall pick in the first round of the ’77 NFL draft to get Dorsett. He spent most of his rookie season backing up HB Preston Pearson until being inserted into the starting lineup for the last four games.

1977 Season Summary
Appeared in all 14 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Attempts – 208 [12]
Most attempts, game - 23 (for 206 yds.) vs. Philadelphia 12/4
Yards – 1007 [9]
Most yards, game – 206 yards (on 23 carries) vs. Philadelphia 12/4
Average gain – 4.8 [3]
TDs – 12 [2]
200-yard rushing games – 1
100-yard rushing games – 2

Pass Receiving
Receptions – 29       
Most receptions, game – 5 (for 48 yds.) vs. Detroit 10/30
Yards – 273
Most yards, game - 48 (on 5 catches) vs. Detroit 10/30
Average gain – 9.4
TDs – 1

Pass attempts – 1
Pass completions – 1
Passing yards – 34
TD passes – 0
Interceptions – 0

TDs – 13 [2]
Points – 78 [9, tied with Nat Moore & John Smith]

Postseason: 3 G
Rushing attempts – 51
Most rushing attempts, game - 19 vs. Minnesota, NFC Championship
Rushing yards – 222
Most rushing yards, game - 85 vs. Chicago, NFC Divisional playoff
Average gain rushing – 4.4
Rushing TDs – 4

Pass receptions – 4
Most pass receptions, game - 2 vs. Chicago, NFC Divisional playoff, vs. Denver, Super Bowl
Pass receiving yards - 48
Most pass receiving yards, game - 37 vs. Chicago, NFC Divisional playoff
Average yards per reception – 12.0
Pass Receiving TDs - 0

Awards & Honors:
NFL Rookie of the Year: UPI, NEA
NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year: AP, PFWA
NFC Rookie of the Year: Sporting News

Cowboys went 12-2 to finish first in the NFC East with the conference’s best record while leading the NFL in total yards (4812) and touchdowns (42, tied with Oakland). Won NFC Divisional playoff over Chicago Bears (37-7), NFC Championship over Minnesota Vikings (23-6), and Super Bowl over Denver Broncos (27-10).

The 1000-yard rushing season as a rookie proved to be the first of eight in his initial nine years with the Cowboys (missing out only during the strike-shortened 1982 campaign). He had a career-high of 1646 rushing yards in 1981, when he was a consensus All-NFL selection, and he received at least some All-NFL or All-NFC recognition five times and was selected to the Pro Bowl on four occasions. His career highs for pass receiving were 51 catches for 459 yards in 1984.  Dorsett was with the Cowboys for 11 seasons, eventually splitting time with Herschel Walker, and finished his career in 1988 with the Denver Broncos. At the time of his retirement, Dorsett’s 12,739 rushing yards ranked second all-time. He also caught 398 passes for another 3554 yards and scored a total of 91 TDs. In 17 postseason games, he rushed for 1383 yards. Dorsett was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 1994.


Rookie of the Year Profiles feature players who were named Rookie of the Year in the NFL, AFL (1960-69), or USFL (1983-85) by a recognized organization (Associated Press – Offense or Defense, Newspaper Enterprise Association, United Press International, The Sporting News, or the league itself – Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year). 

[Updated 2/8/14]