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“I never doubted my ability. I knew all I needed was a chance to show what I could do. It was a challenge."
(Tulsa)...6'0'', 184...Wide Receiver ... 6-0, 184 ... Tulsa ... 1973-83 Dallas Cowboys11 seasons, 156 games ... Undrafted free agent, signed with Cowboys in 1973 ... Retired as the Cowboys’ all-time leader for receptions (489) and receiving yards (7,822)... Caught 48 touchdown passes... Named a first-team All-Pro three times... Selected to play in three Pro Bowls ... Member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1970s... Inserted into starting lineup in rookie season when a teammate got hurt and responded with 22 receptions for 388 yards and two touchdownsin 6 games ... Added two TD catches in a postseason win over the Los Angeles Ramsthat season ... Followed in 1974 with 62 catches for 1,087 yards ... Team leader in receptions and receiving yards four consecutive seasons, 1974-77 ... Led NFL with 870 receiving yards in 1977 ... Seven catches for 113 yards in 1977 postseason as Cowboys won Super Bowl XII... Made three Super Bowl appearancesin career ... Big-game reputation reflected in 68 receptions for 1,131 yards (16.6 average) and 8 TDs in 22 postseason games... Teamed with Roger Staubach for memorable 50-yard score late in 1975 divisional playoff gameat Minnesota, giving rise to the term “Hail Mary” pass ... Born Jan.12, 1951 in South River, New Jersey.
Undrafted out of the University of Tulsa, Drew Pearson made the Dallas roster as a free agent in 1973 because he could contribute on the Cowboys’ special teams. By the time his career ended 11 seasons and 156 regular-season games later, he had left his mark as the franchise’s all-time leader in most receiving categories and established himself as one of the National Football League’s best clutch performers.
Pearson’s big opportunity came midway through his rookie season when a teammate got injured. Starting six games, he finished with 22 receptions for 388 yards and two touchdowns. He added two TD catches in a postseason win over the Los Angeles Rams.
Quickly becoming the team’s main receiving threat, Pearson led the Cowboys with 62 catches for 1,087 yards in 1974 — the first of four consecutive seasons leading the team in both categories.
Pearson’s 870 receiving yards in his All-Pro season in 1977 led the NFL. He followed that regular season with seven catches for 113 yards in the postseason as the Cowboys won Super Bowl XII, one of his three Super Bowl appearances.
At the time of his retirement, Pearson was the Cowboys’ all-time leader for receptions (489) and receiving yards (7,822). He caught 48 touchdown passes. He was an All-Pro three times, a three-time Pro Bowl selection and a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1970s.
Statistics alone don’t tell his story, however. It’s the big plays and when he made them that live in NFL lore. Pearson totaled 68 receptions for 1,131 yards (16.6 average) in 22 postseason games. He scored eight times, perhaps no touchdown more memorable than the 50-yard “Hail Mary” throw from Roger Staubach that beat the Minnesota Vikings in the waning seconds of their 1975 divisional playoff game, helping the Cowboys reach Super Bowl X.
Pearson was on the receiving end of three game-deciding plays that NFL Films put on one of its “Top 75 Plays in NFL History” lists, and he also delivered a key block on a fourth play: Tony Dorsett’s NFL record 99-yard TD run.
He was the team’s nominee for the NFL Man of the Year Award in 1980 and was voted into the Dallas Cowboys’ Ring of Honor in 2011.
1973 NFC – Minnesota Vikings 27, Dallas Cowboys 10
Pearson started at wide receiver. He had two receptions for 24 yards.
1975 NFC –Dallas Cowboys 37¸ Los Angeles Rams 7
Pearson started at wide receiver. He had five receptions for 46 yards.
1977 NFC –Dallas Cowboys 23¸ Minnesota Vikings 6
Pearson started at wide receiver. He had four receptions for 62 yards.
1978 NFC –Dallas Cowboys 28¸ Los Angeles Rams 0
Pearson started at wide receiver. He had two receptions for 19 yards.
1980 NFC – Philadelphia Eagles 20, Dallas Cowboys 7
Pearson started the game at wide receiver. He had two receptions for 15 yards and one pass attempt.
1981 NFC – San Francisco 49ers 28, Dallas Cowboys 27
Pearson started the game at wide receiver. He had one reception for 31 yards.
1982 NFC – Washington Redskins 31, Dallas Cowboys 17
Pearson started the game at wide receiver. He had five receptions for 55 yards and one rush for a loss of one yard.
Super Bowl X – Pittsburgh Steelers 21, Dallas Cowboys 17
Pearson started at wide receiver. He had two receptions for 59 yards and one touchdown.
Super Bowl XII – Dallas Cowboys 27, Denver Broncos 10
Pearson started at wide receiver. He had one reception for 13 yards.
Super Bowl XIII – Pittsburgh Steelers 35, Dallas Cowboys 31
Pearson started at wide receiver. He had four reception for 73 yards and one fumble.
All-Pro: 1974 (AP, PFWA, PW) · 1976 (AP, PFWA, PW) · 1977 (AP, PFWA, NEA, PW)
All-Pro Second Team: 1974 (NEA)
All-NFC: 1974 (AP, UPI, SN, PW) · 1975 (PW) · 1976 (AP, UPI, SN, PW) · 1977 (UPI, SN, PW)
All-NFC Second Team: 1978 (UPI)
(3) – 1975, 1977, 1978
In the NFL Record Book (at time of his retirement following 1983 season)
· [3rd] Most Consecutive Games with a Pass Reception – 22
· [3rd] Most Receptions, Career – 67
Cowboys records held by Pearson
(Records through the 1983 season, Pearson’s final season with Dallas)
· [1st] Most Receptions, Career – 489
· [1st] Most Yards Receiving, Career – 7,822
· [1st] Most Consecutive Games with a Receptions – 58
· [2nd] Most Yards Receiving, Season – 1,087
· [3rd] Most Touchdown Receptions, Career – 48
· [3rd] Most Combined Yardage, Career – 8,180
· [1st] Most Receptions, Career – 67
· [1st] Most Yards Receiving, Career – 1,105
· [1st] Most Touchdown Receptions, Career – 8
· [1st] Highest Yardage Per Reception, Career – 16.5
· [1st] Most Consecutive Games with a Receptions – 22
· [2nd] Longest Pass Reception – 83 (from Staubach vs. L.A. Rams, Dec. 23, 1973)
· [Tied for 1st] Most Consecutive Games with a TD Reception – 2
· [Tied for 2nd] Most Receptions, Game – 7 (vs. Tampa Bay, Jan. 9, 1983)
· [4th] Most Points, Career – 51
League/Team Statistical Titles
NFL Statistical Championships
Pass Receiving Yardage Titles: 1977
Team Statistical Championships
Pass Reception Titles: 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977
Pass Receiving Yardage Titles: 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977
Pass Receiving TD Titles: 1975, 1976
Awards and Honors
· NFL All-Decade Team of 1970s
Year-by-Year Team Records
1973 Dallas Cowboys............... 10-4-0 (1st)
1974 Dallas Cowboys.................. 8-6-0 (3rd)
1975 Dallas Cowboys................. 10-4-0 (2nd)
1976 Dallas Cowboys............... 11-3-0 (1st)
1977 Dallas Cowboys............... 12-2-0 (1st)
1978 Dallas Cowboys............... 12-4-0 (1st)
1979 Dallas Cowboys............... 11-5-0 (1st)
1980 Dallas Cowboys............... 12-4-0 (2nd)
1981 Dallas Cowboys............... 12-4-0 (1st)
1982 Dallas Cowboys................. 6-3-0 (2nd)*
1983 Dallas Cowboys............... 12-4-0 (2nd)
* NFC regular season finish in strike-shortened season.
(Division Finish in Parentheses)
Qualified for Postseason in Bold
Full Name: Drew Pearson
Birthdate: January 12, 1951
Birthplace: South River, New Jersey
High School: South River (NJ)
Pro Career: 11 seasons, 156 games
DREW PEARSON: Hut‑hut! I had the biggest afro in NFL history. That's probably the biggest one that will be in the bust at the Hall of Fame.
All right. Thank you. Thank you all so much. Thank you, Roger Staubach. Thank you for what you have meant to my NFL career as my quarterback for eight seasons. But not only that, to my life for 50‑plus years that I have known you. Thank you today for being my presenter into the Pro Football Hall of Fame!
This confirms it. The wait is over! Over! How about that? The original No. 88 being presented for enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame by my Hall of Fame quarterback, Roger Staubach! Wow!
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, Roger. You know they only give me a few minutes to make this acceptance speech, but it only took 32 seconds to catch the “Hail Mary” from my quarterback, Roger Staubach. So this is no big deal.
You know, there were times I remember I had to fight just to hold my head up. Those times when even my friends tried to make a fool of me. There were things that my heart would attack that they just could not see.
Some said I was hopeless, a mind tangled in the night. But guess what? Strong hearts just keep going, and that's why I'm standing here tonight at the steps of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
I've seen the light and the sun break through the storm, and I'm standing here as a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. And I stand here tonight on the shoulders of the 354 Hall of Famers that helped make the NFL and pro football the great game that it is today.
Thank you, Hall of Famers, for the opportunity. I am honored and proud to join the team as the (354th) member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
And this right here makes it official. Makes it official. So my commitment to this team as a Hall of Famer is to honor, is to respect and never bring shame to this team and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
And to the Pro Football Hall of Fame committee and the voter selection committees: Thank you for the honor. I have learned it's not about how long you wait or how long it takes to get here but more about how you wait. And my wait was supported by my faith, and it was through God's grace that I created a path for me to immortality into the Pro Football Hall of Fame!
Now, there are many people I would like to mention and thank that were part of my journey to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. From the Edison Missiles to the Edison Jets, to the South River High School Rams with Coach Joe Bellissimo, where my quarterback was the great Joe Theismann. To the University of Tulsa and the great coaches I had here. To the Dallas Cowboys and the greatness of Hall of Famer coach Tom Landry.
And trust me, there are many stories to be told along the way. It has been a journey, trust me. A tough, long journey on the road less traveled. Did I make mistakes? Yes, I did. I got cuts, I got scars, I got scrapes and bruises along the way. But I owned all of them. I own all of them because they are all my mistakes. I did it my way, and I did it the hard way.
So tonight don't just honor the man; tonight, honor the mission as well. Don't judge me by reaching the heights of the Pro Football Hall of Fame; rather, judge me by the depths from which I've come.
You watching at home see the names of these people that supported me on this journey to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. However, I want to focus my remaining time on the main reason I'm here, and that's the NFL, and in particular the Dallas Cowboys, and then also my lovely and beautiful family.
To the NFL: Thank you. Thank you for being the great game that you are and providing opportunities through this game for people like myself to succeed. Thank you. Thank you.
I also want to say thank you first to the late, great Clint Murchison, the original owner of the Dallas Cowboys. Thank you for your ownership and drive to set the blueprint of what the Dallas Cowboys still are today. We would not be here without you. Thank you, Clint Murchison.
Also, thank you to Hall of Famer Tex Schramm for your creative ways and marketing genius. I learned so much from you. Thank you, Hall of Famer Gil Brandt for your innovative ways and out‑of‑the‑box thinking that led you to Tulsa University, giving a skinny‑legged kid, 170 pounds, an opportunity. Let me show you these legs a minute.
(Cheers and applause.)
These legs got me in the Pro Football Hall of Fame!
I learned so much from you, Gil Brandt, and if I had more time, I would come over and give you a kiss right now.
And of course, thank you Hall of Famer coach Tom Landry. Thank you, Coach, for your innovative system of equal opportunity as long as you brought character, as long as you brought intelligence, as long as you brought passion and talent to the team. And you also taught me, Coach, that respect is earned and not given.
From these four men, I learned a lot about football and the business of football. But I also learned about business knowledge and acumen that has carried me through my years in my life after football.
And thank you Hall of Famer Jerry Jones for continuing to carry the torch of the Dallas Cowboys on your journey to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. No one could have done it better.
Thank you, Mike Ditka, my first receiver coach in the NFL. Mike was an All‑Pro tight end, which means he taught me nothing about running pass routes as a wide receiver.
But, Mike, you taught me how not to just be a pro, but be a professional. And you did that by the passion you showed and that you brought to the Dallas Cowboys.
Also I want to thank Otto Stowe, a wide receiver that I played behind. I learned so much from you, Otto, and I would not be here today without you. Thank you.
My fellow receivers, in particular Hall of Famer Bob Hayes, Billy Joe DuPree, Golden Richards, Tony "Thrill" Hill, Butch Johnson, Doug Donley, Doug Cosbie, Jean Fugett and many, many more. And also my quarterback after Roger left me and retired, hut‑hut, my quarterback, Danny White. Thank you for taking the reins and helping me get to this Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Thank you, guys. We pushed each other to be the best, which helped lead us to the team success that we earned and enjoyed.
Thank you, Hall of Famer Michael Irvin, No. 88, right on. Thank you, Michael Irvin, for carrying on the legacy of the 88 club. Right on, Michael Irvin.
My final expressions of gratitude and thank you go to my family. My deceased members. My parents, Sam and Minnie Pearson. I love you both. Miss you so much. Thank you for setting the necessary guidelines of discipline for me to follow. The blessing is you both got a chance to see me play in the NFL before God called you home. My stepparents, Louise Garrison and Walter Stenk, all gone too soon.
My deceased sisters and brothers, Denise Linda Pearson Stewart, gone too soon. Debbie Marlette Pearson, gone too soon. My deceased brother, Sam Pearson Jr., gone too soon. Andre Valentino Pearson, gone too soon. Carey Mark "Moose" Pearson, I'm sorry, Chris and Craig, your dad was gone too soon. I miss all of you so dearly, but your spirit, I know, is with me. I know that because I feel it. I feel it.
And to my living sister Sandra Hill, Pearson Hill, you are the best. You are the matriarch of the family. We are blessed to have you. You continue to lead us through family tragedy, including losing your own husband, the great Phil Hill. I love you, sis. I love you, sis.
Now my legacy, my immediate family, my God‑fearing college‑educated children who I am so proud of. My oldest daughter, Tori Nicole Darty. There is nothing, Tori, you can't do, and I think you've tried it all. OK? Thank you for being who you are. I'm so proud of you.
And thank you, all, my daughter Britni. God bless you. You did it. You did it honest. You're just like your dad, right? And my son, Brian Jerr, now, he didn't play football, he's too smart for that, OK? He went to Loyola Marymount University and now is a graphic designer.
So I just want to say thank you for this opportunity. There's so many special people in my life, but my time has run out. I don't have a Hail Mary in my back pocket. So I got to wrap this up.
I just want to thank you all for the moment, for the opportunity to be part of this. You know in life, in this situation, this moment is all there is. This moment has led me to the Pro Football Hall of Fame and is a moment of a lifetime for a lifetime. Hail Mary blessings to you all, Hail Mary blessings all around, and let my people say: "Hut‑hut!"