Former NFL fullback Robert Newhouse, who spent his entire 12-year career with the Dallas Cowboys and stayed with the organization long after his retirement, died Tuesday at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
He was 64.
In a statement released to Fox 4 in Dallas-Fort Worth, Newhouse's son, Rodd, confirmed his father died of complications caused by heart disease. He had been at the Mayo Clinic since November and was surrounded by his wife and four children at the time of his death. He previously suffered a stroke in 2010.
"He fought a long, hard fight," Rodd Newhouse told Jarrett Bell of USA Today. "He definitely showed everyone, especially his family, that he was a fighter."
Born in Longview, Texas, Newhouse spent almost the entirety of his childhood and adult life in the Lonestar State. He attended high school in Hallsville, went to college at the University of Houston and began a decades-long relationship with the Cowboys in 1972.
Selected in the second round (No. 32 overall), Newhouse became an integral—albeit often underappreciated—member of the Cowboys offense under Tom Landry. Working mostly as a blocker, Newhouse earned the nickname The Human Bowling Ball for his ability to open up holes for Tony Dorsett, Calvin Hill and others.
He also stepped into a primary ball-carrying role at certain points, excelling in an era where the fullback was much more widely used than in today's game. He rushed for 4,784 yards and 31 touchdowns in his career, adding 931 yards and five more scores via the air.
"House was a great football player,” former Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach told Fox 4. “Off the field, he was a great man, kind and caring, solid as a rock. He played fullback, tailback, you name it when we needed it."
Perhaps the apex of Newhouse's career had nothing to do with running or blocking whatsoever. In the Cowboys' Super Bowl XII win over the Denver Broncos, Newhouse threw a 29-yard halfback pass to receiver Golden Richards for a touchdown. The pass was the first touchdown score thrown by a running back in Super Bowl history and helped the Cowboys put away a 27-10 victory.
"When Tom called the play, I said, 'I can't believe he called this play,'" Newhouse told Gary Reaves of WFAA in 2010.
Newhouse's dozen seasons in Dallas would feature three Super Bowl and 11 playoff appearances overall and an indelible memory etched in the minds of every Cowboys fan. Other than his willingness to do whatever it took to win, fans fondly remembered Newhouse's 44-inch thighs—as much an NFL legend as Hulk Hogan's 24-inch biceps were in wrestling.
Since retiring in 1983, Newhouse began working behind the scenes in the team's front office. He served in the alumni relations and player programs before his health took a turn for the worse.
Bell's report notes the family is currently planning a memorial service in Dallas. No date has been set.
Newhouse is survived by his wife, Nancy, daughters Dawnyel and Shawntel and sons Reggie and Rodd.
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