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Dallas Cowboys: Danny White, Happy Birthday to One of the Finest Cowboys Ever

Freddy Blair@supermansdadCorrespondent IFebruary 9, 2011

Danny White was second to none.
Danny White was second to none.George Rose/Getty Images

Danny White was born on February 9, 1952 in Mesa, Arizona. He would grow up there and begin his football career playing for Westwood High and then move on to the University of Arizona.

In 1975, the Dallas Cowboys selected White in the NFL draft, and he began his career in the NFL as the Cowboys punter and the backup to the legendary Roger Staubach.

It would be this unfortunate circumstance that would become the thorn in the side of White, who in reality was of one of the finest quarterbacks to ever play the game.

Staubach had captured the hearts of Americans everywhere with his good guy image and his victories on the football field. When he retired at the end of the 1979 season, he had led the Cowboys to four Super Bowls, two Super Bowl wins, four NFC championships and nine consecutive winning seasons.

Yet one only has to look back to December 31, 1978 to see just how valuable Danny White had already become to the Cowboys, even with the legendary "Captain Comeback" still under center.

Trailing the Atlanta Falcons by a score of 20-7 in the Divisional Playoffs, Staubach was knocked out after hitting his head on the turf in Texas Stadium. He had struggled for most of the first half, and it appeared that the defending Super Bowl champions would fall short of a return to the 1978 game.

Enter Danny White, who lit up the Falcons defense and brought the Cowboys back from behind, winning the game 27-20. Without White at the helm, the Cowboys would not have made it through this game and on to the 1978 Super Bowl, which was heralded by most as the "greatest Super Bowl ever played" in which the Cowboys narrowly lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 35-31.

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After falling in the opening round of the playoffs in 1979 to a resurgent Los Angeles Rams team, Staubach would retire, and Danny White would begin his tenure as the starting quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. 

What followed would be three consecutive visits to the NFC Championship Game from 1980-1982. The most famous of all was the 28-27 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in which Dwight Clark made what will forever be known as "The Catch," winning the game in the last minute with a leaping touchdown reception from Joe Montana to defeat the Cowboys.

Most don't seem to remember that White had the Cowboys leading that game and that the 49ers drove the length of the field in the final three minutes to score the winning touchdown, or that White calmly responded by hitting Drew Pearson on a slant pass that nearly brought the Cowboys back to win. Only a one-handed grab of Pearson's jersey prevented him from breaking free and scoring the winning touchdown.

White's failure to lead the Cowboys back to the Super Bowl would inevitably be his legacy, but the truth is that for whatever reason the Cowboys would fall short, it was not due to Danny White's failures.

White was a gifted athlete, and to the younger generation in the '80s who were not as endeared to Staubach, it was White who would appear to be the better of the two.

White threw for 21,959 yards in his career with the Dallas Cowboys. He completed 1,761 passes in only 2,950 attempts for a 59.7 career completion percentage. He threw 155 touchdown passes versus 132 interceptions. The Cowboys carried a .659 winning percentage in the seven seasons with White as their starting quarterback.

By comparison, Roger Staubach threw for 22,700 yards on 1,625 completions, with 153 touchdowns versus 109 interceptions in 11 seasons with the Cowboys.

White still holds the record for punts with the Cowboys, with 610 punts for 24,509 yards with a 40.4 average.

White is probably best remembered for the 1980 playoff game with the Atlanta Falcons, in which he brought the Cowboys from behind in the final minutes from a 27-10 deficit. White threw three touchdown passes, with the last one going to Drew Pearson, and the Cowboys rallied to win 31-27.

Danny White retired in 1988 as the era of the Cowboys under Tom Landry came to a close.

Tom Landry would say of Danny White, "No one could have done a better job in following Roger (Staubach)."

"Danny was a solid winner."

Happy birthday, Danny White—from a generation that knows you were second to none!

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