Former NFL safety James Washington may have begun his eight-year career with the LA Rams and finished it with the Washington Redskins but he’ll always best be remembered for his time with the Dallas Cowboys, with whom he won two Super Bowl titles.
Washington was a key member of the Cowboys’ defensive unit that often gets overlooked when discussing those great Dallas teams of the 1990s and very easily could have been named the Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl 28, which was the Cowboys’ second consecutive title game victory over the Buffalo Bills.
So what is James Washington up to these days?
After a strong career at UCLA, James Washington was drafted by the LA Rams
Born in Los Angeles in 1965, James Washington attended Jordan High School, which has a rich athletic tradition and has produced a number of Olympic gold medalists and professional athletes, before playing his college football at UCLA.
As a freshman in 1984, Washington earned the starting role at free safety and recorded 119 tackles, a freshman record for the Bruins, and was also named co-MVP of the Fiesta Bowl in which UCLA knocked off the Miami Hurricanes, who were coached by Washington’s future NFL boss, Jimmy Johnson. In 1985, Washington earned honorable-mention All-American honors and helped the Bruins upset Iowa in the Rose Bowl.
Following the 1986 season, James Washington was named a Third-Team All-American and closed out his career at UCLA by helping the Bruins to a victory over Florida in the 1987 Aloha Bowl. He teamed with future Cowboys teammate Troy Aikman for the final two years of his college career.
Washington was taken in the fifth round of the 1988 NFL draft with the 137th overall pick by the LA Rams but spent just two seasons with his hometown team, starting zero games in the 25 games in which he played, before signing with the Dallas Cowboys ahead of the 1990 season.
He won two titles with the Dallas Cowboys and maybe should have been named MVP of Super Bowl 28
James Washington finally got the chance to prove himself at the professional level with the Dallas Cowboys and prove himself he did. In 15 games with the Cowboys in 1990, 10 of which were starts, he recorded 70 tackles and tied for the team lead with three interceptions. The following season, he was second on the team in tackles with 113 and was also second in interceptions.
In 1992, Washington continued his solid play with 95 tackles, good for third on the team, and again tied for the team lead in interceptions with three. In the Cowboys’ 52-17 drubbing of the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl 27, Washington picked off Jim Kelly in the first quarter, which led to Dallas’ first touchdown of the game. The pick was one of nine takeaways by the Cowboys’ defense.
James Washington lost his starting job in 1993 as second-year safety Darren Woodson began his incredible run with the Cowboys but still started in Dallas’ Super Bowl rematch with the Bills as the team ran a lot of nickel packages to combat Buffalo’s three receiver single back formation. And Washington certainly made the most of the opportunity.
In the first quarter, with the score tied 3-3, Washington forced a Thurman Thomas fumble, which led to a Dallas field goal, giving the Cowboys a 6-3 lead. With the Cowboys trailing 13-6 in the third quarter, Leon Lett forced another Thomas fumble, which Washington recovered and returned 46 yards for a touchdown, tying the game at 13.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, with the Cowboys leading 20-13, Washington intercepted Jim Kelly, which led to an Emmitt Smith touchdown that gave Dallas a 14-point lead. The Cowboys would win the game, 30-13, and many thought that James Washington deserved to be named MVP but that honor went to Smith, who rushed for 132 yards and two touchdowns.
Washington played one final season for the Cowboys in 1994 and then one season for the Redskins, who released him ahead of the 1996 season.
Where is James Washington now?
James Washington has certainly been busy in retirement. For a time, he was the co-host of Fox Sports Radio’s most popular program, Out of Bounds, and has also been an analyst for UCLA football games. And speaking of his alma mater, Washington also served as the Director of Scholarships at UCLA for a time. He also currently serves as the president of the Southern California Chapter of the NFL Alumni Association.
Washington’s biggest passion, however, is Shelter37, the non-profit organization he founded in 1993 that “provides highly effective life skills, job training, and educational programs to youth in southern California.”
James Washington helps host a number of fundraising activities and community activities for Shelter37 each and every year.
Stats courtesy of Sports Reference