Don Perkins, a man many view as the first great running back to ever grace a Dallas Cowboys uniform, has died at the age of 84, the team announced. A ninth-round pick of the Baltimore Colts in 1960, Perkins found his way to Dallas by way of an agreement between the Cowboys and the NFL that allowed them to enter into contracts with players, under the condition they would have to complete the process of becoming an expansion franchise later in the year.
When they did, Perkins waved goodbye to the Colts — whom the Cowboys compensated with a draft pick — and began his legendary career for what would eventually be known as “America’s Team.”
He was also a first-round pick of the New York Titans of the AFL that same year (a team now known as the Jets), a nod to just how coveted Perkins was as a prospect out of the University of New Mexico.
He’d win NFL Rookie of the Year honors in 1961 and go on to play eight seasons in Dallas, concluding his Cowboys career in 1968 as a six-time Pro Bowler and a two-time All-Pro running back who rushed for 6,217 yards and 42 touchdowns (fourth most in franchise history in both categories).
Perkins was eventually immortalized by induction into the coveted Cowboys Ring of Honor in 1976.
News of Perkins’ death comes just days after the organization learned of the death of another former star halfback, Marion Barber, and adds to a list of familiar Cowboys who have died in 2022 — including Ralph Neely, Dan Reeves, Gary Brown, Rayfield Wright and longtime front office names in [Jerry Jones’ personal] assistant Marilyn Love and scouting director Larry Lacewell.