Harvey Martin is one of the greatest players in Cowboys history and a key reason why Dallas became America’s Team.
Martin took that reputation to another level when he celebrated a victory over the rival Redskins with, of all things, a funeral wreath.
Harvey Martin is a Dallas Cowboys great
The Dallas Cowboys had Ed Jones, who earned the nickname “Too Tall” for his 6-foot-9 frame. At the same time, they also employed Harvey Martin, who was known as “Too Mean.”
A standout at East Texas State, an NAIA school, Martin became a third-round draft pick in 1973. Martin spent 11 seasons with the Cowboys and grew into one of the league’s top pass-rushers.
He made the Pro Bowl every year from 1976-79 and earned First-team All-Pro honors in 1977, the same year he won Defensive Player of the Year.
Martin led the league with an NFL-record 23 sacks that year, although sacks didn’t become an official stat until 1982.
Born in Dallas, Martin finished his career with 114 sacks and later earned induction into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame.
Martin feuded with the rival Redskins throughout his career
Harvey Martin was “too mean” to everyone he encountered. That later became a problem when he retired and faced numerous legal issues.
Before that, though, Martin used his aggressiveness and anger to his advantage. Blocking the powerful lineman was a fool’s errand and it boosted the Cowboys’ Doomsday Defense.
Most people knew not to pick a fight with Martin. The Washington Redskins, though, seemingly didn’t want to follow that advice.
A few days before the 1979 season finale, Martin received a funeral wreath from a Maryland florist. The wreath included a card reading, “From the Redskins.”
Harvey Martin got his revenge on the Redskins
Naturally, Harvey Martin was furious at the perceived insult. How dare the Redskins and their fans try picking a fight with him.
Martin got the last laugh when Dallas won 35-34 and knocked Washington out of the playoffs. Still dressed in his uniform and helmet when the game ended, Martin grabbed the wreath and walked to the Redskins’ locker room.
Martin found his way in as Redskins coach Jack Pardee addressed the team. Martin then flung the wreath inside and walked away, according to ESPN.
A few days later, Cowboys coach Tom Landry mandated Martin apologize to Pardee, which the star defensive end did. Dallas lost to the Rams, 21-19, two weeks later.
The story ended later on, when the Washington Star traced the origin of the wreath and learned a Cowboys fan sent it to Martin. It certainly worked as a unique form of motivation and, potentially, helped the Cowboys to a key division win.