Former Dallas Cowboys fullback Robert Newhouse, who will be remembered most for throwing a touchdown pass to Golden Richards while running to his left in Super Bowl XII on one of Tom Landry’s famous trick plays, died Tuesday night. He was 64.
Newhouse battled health issues since suffering a stroke in 2010.
He spent much of the past year at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., hoping to get a heart transplant.
Newhouse never got strong enough for the transplant before succumbing to heart disease at the Mayo Clinic, his son Rodd Newhouse confirmed Tuesday night.
His final days were a stark contrast to how he lived and how he played football during a 12-year career with the Cowboys that included three Super Bowl appearances and a Super Bowl title in 1977.
Generously listed at 5-foot-10, 209 pounds, Newhouse ran with power, typified by his always churning massive thighs.
He had two nicknames during his career with the Cowboys, “House” and “human bowling ball” for his low-running style through defenses with those powerful thighs.
Originally a second-round pick of the Cowboys in 1972 after an All-America career at the University of Houston, Newhouse was primarily a blocking fullback in the NFL.
Newhouse paved the way for star halfbacks Calvin Hill and Tony Dorsett, though Newhouse did lead the team in rushing in 1975 with 930 yards.
It all set up the perfect storm in Super Bowl XII against the Denver Broncos when Landry called the famous halfback pass to the surprise of everyone, even Newhouse.
“When Tom called the play, I said, ‘I can’t believe he called this play,’ ” Newhouse said in the past, because he never did it right in practice.
But Landry called the play and Newhouse took a pitch from quarterback Roger Staubach and ran left before turning and throwing, hitting a wide-open Richards in stride to clinch the 27-10 victory.
It proved to be a play for the ages. Newhouse was the first running back to throw a touchdown pass in a Super Bowl.
A native of Hallsville, Newhouse retired from the Cowboys after the 1983 season as the fourth all-time leading rusher in team history with 4,784 rushing yards, 956 receiving yards and 31 touchdowns.
After retiring from the Cowboys, Newhouse worked for the franchise in alumni relations and player programs.
He is a member of the Texas Black Sports Hall of Fame and the University of Houston Athletics Hall of Honor.
Newhouse is survived by his wife Nancy, sons Rodd and Reggie and daughters Dawnyel and Shawntel.