Football / Sports

Former Cowboys running back Robert Newhouse dead at 64

Former Dallas Cowboys fullback Robert Newhouse, who is remembered most for throwing a touchdown pass to Golden Richards in Super Bowl XII, died Tuesday night. He was 64.

Newhouse battled with his health since suffering a stroke in 2010. He spent much of the past year at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., seeking a heart transplant. Newhouse never got strong enough for the transplant and succumbed to heart disease at the clinic, his son Rodd Newhouse confirmed.

His final days were a stark contrast to how he lived and how he played football during a 12-year career with the Cowboys, which 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 churning 44-inch 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 as a pro. He 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 coach Tom 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 throwing back across his body, hitting a wide-open Richards perfectly in stride to clinch the 31-10 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, Texas, 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 Dawnyell and Shawntell.

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