Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Cliff Harris
6' 188
Free Safety
Dallas Cowboys
1970 - 1979
10 Seasons
141 Games
29 Interceptions
18 Fumbles Recovered
1 Touchdown
6 Pro Bowls

Clifford Allen Harris was not chosen in the 1970 NFL Draft. He went to Ouachita Baptist College. He played all positions of the defensive secondary during his collegiate career. Harris was a two-time All-AIC selection. He was part of the Ouachita 1966 AIC Championship team. Cliff Harris is a member of the NAIA Hall of Fame and a member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Harris started immediately at Free Safety in his rookie year. He intercepted 2 passes, returning one for 60 yards. Harris also recovered 3 fumbles. Although military obligations caused him to miss the second half the season, he returned in time for the Cowboys' Super Bowl VI win. Harris also returned punts and kickoffs for the Cowboys from his second season until his fifth season. His best season returning kickoffs was in 2nd year. Harris returned 29 kicks for 823 yards at an excellent 28.3 average. All of these stats are his career highs. He took one kick 77 yards for the longest return of his career. He also averaged a career best 7.6 yards per punt return on 17 punts. Harris picked off 2 passes that year and recovered 3 fumbles as well. He ended up with 63 kick returns at a very impressive 25.7 average for his career. He also returned 66 punts in his career. Harris was steady. He intercepted 2 or more passes every year of his entire career. His career high was 5 in 1977, when the Cowboys won Super Bowl XII. In 1975, Harris took an interception 27 yards for the only touchdown of his NFL career. Harris was named to his first Pro Bowl in 1974, and would be named to the Pro Bowl each year for the rest of his career.

Harris earned the nickname "Captain Crash" during his career. He was a starter his entire NFL career, and was fearless versus the run. Harris was a notoriously hard hitter who would make opposing wide receivers get alligator arms when coming across the middle. He was on five Dallas Super Bowl teams during his career. Harris wore the pads of place kickers in order to keep his speed and quickness up throughout his career, making his hitting prowess even more impressive. Harris announced his retirement following the 1979 to concentrate on his business ventures, where he runs a company with former Cowboys SS Charlie Waters. They also wrote a memoirs about their time together with the Cowboys. Sports Illustrated named him to their Dream Team at free safety. Harris was named to the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor in 2004.

Cliff Harris changed the way the Free Safety position was played. His run support is legendary in Texas, and his intelligence was a big part of his game. Harris teamed with his best friend, Waters, to form one of the better Safety duos in the NFL throughout the 70's. Waters made 3 Pro Bowls from 1976 to 1978. Harris was noted for always being around the ball. He got the ball back for the Cowboys 47 times in his 10 year career. He has been a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I don't know what the voters are waiting for. He should have been in already. With his being so close in 2004, there is little doubt in my mind that Cliff Harris will one day be in Canton. Hopefully sooner than later.

Notable Players Drafted In 1970 (* Denotes Canton Inductee)

1. Terry Bradshaw, QB, Pittsburgh *
7. Mike Reid, DT, Cincinnati
9. Cedric Hardman, DE, San Francisco
10. Ken Burrough, WR, New Orleans
13. Doug Wilkerson, OG, Houston
17. Bruce Taylor, CB, San Francisco
18. Norm Bulaich, FB, Baltimore
19. Steve Owens, RB, Detroit
22. Jack Reynolds, LB, LA Rams
23. Duane Thomas, RB, Dallas
24. Raymond Chester, TE, Oakland
29. Jim Mandich, TE, Miami
30. Dennis Shaw, QB, Buffalo
31. Leo Brooks, DT, Houston
36. Joe "Turkey" Jones, DE, Cleveland
39. Art Malone, RB, Atlanta
43. Bill Brundige, DE, Washington
46. Richard Caster, WR, NY Jets
53. Mel Blount, DB, Pittsburgh *
55. Tim Foley, DB, Miami
66. Charlie Waters, DB, Dallas
76. Gerald Irons, DE, Oakland
80. Ed George, OT, Pittsburgh (CFL Hall of Fame)
110. Ron Saul, OG, Houston
114. Manny Sistrunk, DE, Washington
153. Pat Toomay, DE, Dallas
159. Jake Scott, DB, Miami
163. Lemar Parrish, DB, Cincinnati
201. Mike Holmgren, QB, Saint Louis Cardinals
204. Rich Saul, OG, LA Rams
218. Jim Otis, FB, New Orleans
248. Joe Dawkins, RB, Houston
259. Stu Voight, TE, Minnesota
287. Butch Davis, DB, Chicago
335. Mark Washington, CB, Dallas
346. Mark Moseley, K, Philadelphia
348. Doug Sutherland, DT, New Orleans


Lester's Legends said...

Another one I hadn't heard of. It's amazing how many players you've uncovered. That was a neglected era.

The BEEZE said...

I hadn't heard of Harris either.

Great job, asusual.