Looking back on an 18-year career as an NFL quarterback that included starts for two different teams in Super Bowls, Craig Morton acknowledged he always had a difficult time escaping the shadow of the Dallas Cowboys.
Morton, recipient of the 2015 Davey O’Brien Legends Award during Monday night’s ceremony at the Fort Worth Club, was the Cowboys’ first-round pick in the 1965 NFL Draft.
He started for the Cowboys in Super Bowl V (1970 season), was the backup to starter Roger Staubach in Super Bowl VI (1971 season) and played against Dallas as the Denver Broncos’ starter in Super Bowl XII (1977 season).
Wherever I was, they were always involved with it, which is alright.
Craig Morton on playing with and against the Cowboys in three Super Bowls
The Cowboys won two of those games but Morton was 0-2 as a Super Bowl starter in his NFL career.
“Wherever I was, they were always involved with it, which is alright,” said Morton, who threw for 27,098 yards and 183 touchdowns in his NFL career but knows he’ll always be remembered as the guy who alternated snaps with Staubach during one season when Dallas coach Tom Landry was undecided about his starter.
“That was really silly, wasn’t it?,” said Morton, who found it ironic — and appropriate — that O’Brien officials enlisted Staubach to present him with his award.
“So, it’s Roger again, huh?,” Morton said, smiling. “The battles with Roger [for playing time] were just that. We respected each other and it all turned out the way it did.”
Morton, who played his college football at California, acknowledged things might have been much different if negotiations had gone badly with the Oakland Raiders, the AFL team that wooed him out of college before the AFL-NFL merger.
He has the ability to throw it and he gets rid of it fast. The way the Cowboys run their offense, yeah, he’d be a good fit.
Craig Morton on why the Cowboys should draft California quarterback Jared Goff
Morton also said the Cowboys, who spent a fifth overall pick on him in 1965, should spend their No. 4 pick in the 2016 draft on Cal quarterback Jared Goff, if given the chance.
“I’d take Jared Goff. And not just because he’s a Golden Bear,” Morton said when asked what he would do if placed in charge of Dallas’ draft. “He has the ability to throw it and he gets rid of it fast. The way the Cowboys run their offense, yeah, he’d be a good fit.”
Morton said he agreed to come to Dallas in 1965 for a three-year deal valued at $150,000, plus a new Jaguar XK-E. Shortly after arriving in Dallas, he swapped the Jag, which did not have air conditioning, for a Ford Thunderbird convertible that did. He also credited former Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis with pushing him toward Dallas by questioning Morton’s honesty during negotiations.
“I came back one time and he said, ‘I guess you’ve signed with the Cowboys.’ I said, ‘I haven’t signed with the Cowboys. I’ll be honest with you,’ ” Morton recalled. “Then he said, ‘Well, I know you’ve signed with the Cowboys.’ And I said, ‘I didn’t.’ He says, ‘Well, I don’t believe you.’ And I said, ‘Well, screw you.’ He should have known I just don’t lie. I wouldn’t lie about that.”