For years, whenever there was a short-yardage situation, Tom Landry called on Dallas Cowboys fullback Robert Newhouse to get the necessary yards. Without fail, Newhouse and his tree trunk-size legs would deliver. While known for his legs, the native Texan was also an integral part of one of the most iconic moments in Cowboys history when he completed a touchdown pass in the Super Bowl 12 win over the Denver Broncos.
Newhouse played his entire career for Landry and the Cowboys. He retired after 1983. After retiring, Newhouse remained a part of the Cowboys organization for several years. In 2010, his health started failing him. The once-powerful force on the football field slowly began to fade. In 2014, Newhouse died. Here’s a look back on the career and sad ending of one of the greatest Cowboys fullbacks in club history.
Robert Newhouse stars at Houston
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Robert Newhouse was a dominant high school running back in Texas during the late 1960s. Despite rushing performances of more than 200 and 300 yards in one game, the interest from college recruiters was limited. He only received one Division I offer from the University of Houston.
In his first season with the Cougars, Newhouse only gained 416 yards, but he did it on just 61 carries for an impressive 6.8 yards per attempt. During his sophomore season, the number of carries increased and so did the production, where he gained 788 yards and scored five touchdowns.
Robert Newhouse’s junior year at Houston was historic. That year he set the school record for most rushing yards (1,757), most 100-yard games in a season (10), and most 200-yard games in a season (3). He was named a second-team All-American.
Robert Newhouse bulldozes defenders with Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys selected Robert Newhouse in the second round of the 1972 NFL Draft. During his first few seasons in Dallas, Newhouse started just a handful of times. In 1975, Tom Landry increased his workload and Newhouse responded, running for a team-leading 930 yards with an average of 4.4 yards per carry.
Despite the addition of Tony Dorsett in 1977, Newhouse had already developed his reputation with the Cowboys as that reliable back who could pound it inside and get three or four yards whenever necessary. With the power from his impressive 44-inch thighs, Newhouse and his propensity to bowl over defenders earned him the nicknames of “The House” and “The Human Bowling Ball.”
While Robert Newhouse was known for his legs, it was his arm in the 1977 Super Bowl against the Denver Broncos that was one of his most memorable highlights of his career. In that game, Newhouse took the pitch from quarterback Roger Staubach and ran to his left. Instead of barreling over oncoming tacklers, he stopped, turned down field and delivered a rainbow pass to wide receiver Golden Richards for a 29-yard touchdown, which effectively sealed the Cowboys 27-10 victory.
Newhouse was a regular starter until 1980, with his primary purpose as a blocker to create running lanes for Dorsett, and when needed, gain those yards in a short-yardage situation.
Life after playing and his untimely death
Robert Newhouse retired after the 1983 season as the fourth all-time leading rusher in Cowboys history. Upon retirement, he remained with the organization, where he worked in the player-relations department, helping players with their off-the-field lives.
Newhouse and his wife, Nancy, raised twin daughters, Dawnyel and Shawntel, as well two sons, Roderick, and Reggie, who played a couple of seasons with the Arizona Cardinals.
Unfortunately, in 2010, Newhouse suffered a stroke. For the next four years, his health steadily declined. In July 2014, after years of battling illness, he died from the effects of heart disease. He was 64.
Dallas Cowboys fans will always remember Robert Newhouse for his massive tree-trunk size legs and his fearless style and willingness to run over much bigger defenders. And for that one pass he made in Super Bowl 12 that sealed the victory.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.