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