Third down was made for former Dallas Cowboys star Preston Pearson.
His style of play helped create the term “third-down back” for his ability to make first downs or touchdowns on the critical down.
Pearson played three seasons with Baltimore (1967-69), five seasons with Pittsburgh (1970-74) and six seasons with Dallas (1975-80). The Colts drafted him in the 12th round out of Illinois, where he starred in basketball, not football. He went to the Super Bowl with each team, played in five Super Bowls in total, and won two titles.
A successful businessman, Pearson remains a big player in the league. He recently helped support the launch of the NFL Players Association’s new program, Healthy Huddle in Dallas.
Healthy Huddle is a premium dental service for retired players and their families. It also provides players an opportunity to give back to their community through the Healthy Huddle Community Smile Project and Smile Brands Group Inc., programs that benefit underprivileged youth in Dallas and surrounding communities.
An all-purpose player in the NFL, Pearson finished his career with 3,609 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns along with 254 receptions for 3,095 yards and 17 touchdowns. Many of his plays came on third down.
But he is often overlooked when fans talk about great Cowboys players.
“People are always talking about Cowboys’ history and what guys are great and the Ring of Honor,” said Pearson, who co-founded Pro-Style Associates, a sports marketing agency in Dallas.
“What is the criteria for the Ring of Honor? I don’t think anybody knows that answer. It’s whatever [owner] Jerry [Jones] wants it to be. Right now, I think [the criteria] is too high.”
There are 20 players in the Ring of Honor, 13 are also in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Only Deion Sanders is in the Hall of Fame but not in the Ring of Honor. Sanders is in the Atlanta Falcons’ Ring of Honor.
“You have to be a Hall of Famer or a Pro Bowler,” Pearson said. “It’s not anything about being a team player or a good guy. It’s got to be more than those things, because it’s not about those standards for the Cowboys. It’s about what you bring to that star for the Cowboys.”