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Legendary Cowboys RB Walt Garrison dies at 79

Walt Garrison, a Dallas Cowboys running back on the field and a real-life cowboy off it, died Wednesday. He was 79.

The Cowboys announced his death on Thursday but did not provide a cause.

Garrison was part of the Cowboys’ great teams of the early 1970s after being drafted by Dallas in the fifth round with the 79th overall pick of the 1966 NFL Draft out of Oklahoma State. He played for the Cowboys for nine seasons and was a Pro Bowl selection and a Super Bowl champion.

Garrison carried the ball 899 times for 3,886 yards with 30 touchdowns in 119 games (71 starts). He added 182 receptions for 1,794 yards and nine scores out of the backfield.

A native of Denton, Texas, Garrison retired at age 30. In the offseason, he performed in rodeos and gained expertise in steer wrestling. He was known to take part in rodeos the night before home games as a rookie before coach Tom Landry put a stop to it.

“That worked good for a couple of times,” Garrison once said. “And then somebody called Coach Landry and said, ‘We think it is so nice that the Cowboys let Walt come over here and bulldog the night before a game.’ So then I had a meeting with Coach Landry the next day, who told me, ‘Don’t do that any more.’

“But I wasn’t starting, Don Perkins was starting. I was returning punts and kicks and covering on the kamikaze squad, that’s all I was doing. And hell, you could get hurt worse on them than you can rodeoing. I didn’t think much about it, but the Cowboys did.”

As it turns out, it was a knee injury sustained while steer wrestling in 1975 that ended his career. He went on to work for US Smokeless Tobacco and became known for his commercial for chewing tobacco, with his catch phrase, “Just a pinch between your cheek and gum.”

Garrison led the Cowboys with 40 receptions in 1971, gaining 396 yards and scoring a touchdown, before Dallas went on to beat the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl VI.

He was named to the Pro Bowl in 1972 when he ran for 784 yards and scored seven times and also caught 37 passes for 390 yards and three touchdowns.

–Field Level Media

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