FRISCO, Texas – Nate Newton hit the motherlode this past weekend, sort of one of life’s sweet triple crowns during his induction into the Black College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta on Saturday.
Nate was one of seven inductees into the Class of 2022, having played his college ball at Florida A&M University, an Historically Black College and University located in Tallahassee, Fla.
Newton and his family, wife, two sons, brothers and sisters, were all together that weekend in Atlanta and on Saturday afternoon were able to witness the finish of the city’s Juneteenth Parade at Centennial Park in downtown near the College Football Hall of Fame.
And then on Sunday, why it was Father’s Day, his two sons Trey and King were there to celebrate with him.
“Took care of it all,” Nate said. “Telling you, it was fun. I had the time of the century.”
Not bad for our DallasCowboys.com and Dallas Cowboys Broadcasting Network teammate, Nate and I having spent several years on the Talkin’ Cowboys podcast.
Newton played 13 seasons with the Cowboys (1986-1998), earning six Pro Bowls as an offensive guard and the three Super Bowl rings. Only three Cowboys offensive linemen have been named to more Pro Bowls: Larry Allen (10), Tyron Smith (8) and now Zack Martin (7). But get this, his six match Pro Football Hall of Fame offensive tackle Rayfield Wright.
Boy, I can remember that day this like 350-pound free agent showed up to training camp in Thousand Oaks, Calif., the Cowboys signing him after the USFL had folded that summer. Back then, Cowboys Hall of Fame head coach Tom Landry didn’t like his offensive linemen to weight more than maybe 270 pounds. But Nate was so large the Cowboys didn’t have football pants big enough to fit him for practice.
Former Cowboys assistant equipment manager Jerry Fowler ended up taking two pairs of double-XL pants and sewing them together for Nate, saying at the time, “The Bears got The Fridge but we got “The Kitchen.”
That stuck for several seasons.
This honor also includes Nate Newton’s picture entering into the Pro Football Hall of Fame wing in Canton, Ohio, that honors members of the Black College Football Hall of Fame, Nate cracking, “I backdoored the Hall of Fame.” He will receive his ring during a September ceremony in Canton.
To Nate, one of the highest tributes of the weekend might have been the guys who showed up to celebrate with him, his former teammates Troy Aikman, Tony Tolbert, now Jackson State head coach Deion Sanders, Mark Stepnoski and Daryl Johnston, along with Cowboys offensive line coach Tony Wise and Nate’s FAMU head coach Rudy Hubbard, a member of the Black College Football Hall of Fame himself.
“Hey, Moose drove all the way from Birmingham, Ala., to be there,” said Nate, whose BCFHOF Class included former Packers wide receiver Donald Drive (Alcorn State), who now lives in the DFW area, and the late Roscoe Nance, one of my former Jackson (Miss.) Clarion-Ledger teammates as a contributor, the first black sportswriter at the paper who covered the Southwestern Athletic Conference for years, went on to work at USA Today and was the founding member and president of the SWAC Alumni Association.
Even Nate’s Cowboys head coach for five seasons Jimmy Johnson gave him a video shoutout online, saying, “Nate, congratulations on being inducted into the Hall of Fame for the HBCU. Hey, you were always one of my favorite players. Sorry Troy.
“Hey, I’m really proud of you Nate. You accomplished a lot. Congratulations.”
Nate said the importance of having his family, former coaches and teammates there to celebrate with him “didn’t dawn on me until I went on stage,” pointing out one of the ceremony’s hosts, Steve Wyche, asking him what it meant to have so many of “the guys” there to help honor him.
“This was a result of my team’s work,” pointing out Jimmy used to tell the guys about the importance of the relationships made while winning championships. “I was so overjoyed.
“You don’t know who’s for you until a situation like that.”
So let us give Big Newt a, uh, shot out.
- Honoring Lace: This past Friday a Celebration of Life ceremony for Larry Lacewell was held at Arkansas State’s First Bank Arena in Jonesboro, Ark., honoring the schools’ all-time winningest coach, the University of Oklahoma defensive coordinator and the Dallas Cowboys director of college and pro scouting for 14 years (1991-2004) among many other stops along the way during his 85 years of life before passing away on May 17. Several of the speakers perfectly portrayed Lace, the man who equally loved football and to talk. Said former Cowboys head coach and longtime Oklahoma head coach Barry Switzer of his one-time defensive coordinator with the Sooners, “Larry was exactly what everybody’s been talking about. He’s the best defensive coach that’s ever been. All you had to do was ask him. Pull up a chair and sit down and he’ll damn sure tell you about it.” Then there was Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, saying of Larry, “Larry Lacewell has influenced everything that the Cowboys weren’t when he got there and that they are having been there.” Jones was joined by a contingent of current and former Cowboys employees, and the Cowboys owner asked them to stand: Chris Hall, Tom Ciskowski, Walter Juliff, Henry Sroka, Bruce Mays, Todd Williams, Dave Campo and Jim Baker. And after asking them all to stand to be recognized, Jerry said, “That old country song, ‘They’ll walk across Texas.’ They’ll walk across Texas for Larry, seriously.”
- Capt. Crash Too: Also, a shoutout to Cowboys Hall of Fame safety Cliff Harris for putting on his 31st annual charity golf tournament on Monday, raising funds for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation out at nearby Stonebriar Country Club. Honored to participate once again, though unfortunately for my other two threesome partners since I contribute very little, almost nothing to our scoring.
This year’s event raised right at $300,000 for the JDRF, pushing his total raised to more than $5 million over the years through this tournament and yearly galas. A bevy of former teammates and former Cowboys players regularly show up, with Charles Haley this year’s special guest. Some of those attending included Roger Staubach, Preston Pearson, Charlie Waters, D.D. Lewis, Billy Joe DuPree, Mike Renfro, Doug Donley and Chad Hennings
- Stat This: Here are two standout stats for the Cowboys in 2021 to highlight a 12-5 finish but cause angst knowing they were unable to win a playoff game. First, Cowboys teams with the most players finishing with at least six touchdown receptions. In 2021, the Cowboys produced a franchise record four: Amari Cooper (8), Dalton Schultz (8), CeeDee lamb (6) and Michael Gallup (6). Seven previous seasons the Cowboys produced a franchise-high three players with at least six touchdown receptions, most recently in 2011 with Laurent Robinson (11), Dez Bryant (9) and Miles Austin (7), the Cowboys finishing 8-8 in the first year under head coach Jason Garrett. Now the first of those seven occurrences took place in 1967, with Bob Hayes (10), Lance Rentzel (8) and Dan Reeves (6), only to lose the NFL Championship Game in what became known as the “Ice Bowl” to the Green Bay Packers.
So, all is quiet on The Star football front this week, not only with the majority of the players, but the Cowboys staff also stepping away for several weeks of R&R before the July 25 start of training camp. And Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy was asked last week about just how long he can manage to stay away from football during this time.
“Really, what happens to me, and your kids test you on this, but once I get past the Fourth of July, about July 8, 9, 10, and I think most coaches are like this, you start getting the itch. You know, you get up, my structure with vacation with my family, the mornings are my free times because, you know, kids stay up later the older they get, don’t get their butts out of bed until 11 o’clock, so I get a good six hours of freedom before I get going. So that’s when I really dive back into it,” McCarthy said.
“It’s kind of fun, a lot of family time, looking forward to it. Family from Pittsburgh’s coming, but I think once you get past that Fourth of July weekend, that’s kind of been my trigger. So, I’ll definitely spend those last two weeks getting ready (for camp).”
OK, Mike, see you in a couple of weeks then. Send along any stray shots if you happen to get bored.