Drew Pearson was one of those diamonds in the rough that former head coach Tom Landry had seemed to find. Pearson was an undrafted free agent in 1973 and proved to be one of the Cowboys best finds. Not only was he the man who caught the famous, “Hail Mary” catch from Roger Staubach in 1975 to defeat the Minnesota Vikings in the playoffs, not only was the only player whose jersey is coveted so much that only “special” players get adorn it, and but he is also the Cowboy that lost out on a great career due to a tragic accident.
Pearson began his career in Dallas with little to lose as undrafted rookie. The Cowboys had already drafted Golden Richards and John Smith as receivers plus added first round pick Billy Joe Dupree as a tight end so being undrafted and having to compete against three players in similar positions was going to be a challenge. Pearson took that challenge and ultimately became more popular to fans than all three of the players drafted ever imagined. He quickly became quarterback Roger Staubach’s favorite target and after Staubach retired he became the favorite of Danny White as well.
Pearson caught 489 receptions for 7,822 yards with 48 touchdowns. His 10- year career wasn’t too shabby as he was named All-Pro three times in 1974, 1976, and 1977 and second team All-NFC in 1978. He went to the Pro Bowl every season he was named an All-Pro and led the league in receptions in 1976 with 58. Nicknamed “Mr. Clutch” for his timely catches, he will forever be linked to the “Hail Mary” but many fans have forgotten he caught a pass in the 1981 Divisional Championship game that almost went the distance but he was tackled just outside of field goal range against the San Francisco 49ers, the game that started the 49er dynasty in the 80’s. He also caught a game-winning touchdown pass from backup quarterback Clint Longely in 1974 against the hated, Washington Redskins to defeat them on Thanksgiving Day. In his rookie season, he nabbed an all-important game winning touchdown against the Los Angeles Rams in the playoffs. And that wasn’t the only big playoff catch he made, He caught the game-winning catch against the Atlanta Falcons in the 1980 playoffs from Danny White. So needless to say his career was filled with highlights that make the likes of Jerry Rice envious.
Unfortunately in March of 1984, Pearson fell asleep at the wheel of his car and slammed into a parked tractor-trailer ending his brother’s life. Pearson’s injuries were so severe that he was forced to retire. One thing Pearson remembered about the whole ordeal was how not only his teammates visited him but his coach, Tom Landry. Landry wasn’t known for his emotion on the field but off of it, he loved his players and those memories stay with Pearson to this day. Pearson shared those moments at Landry’s funeral when he passed away in 2000.
Since his playing career ended, Pearson took on different roles on the other side of football mainly in broadcasting but he was also a head coach. He was the head coach of the Dallas Texans Arena Football team in 1991, he was also the general manager of the New York/New Jersey Hitmen of the former XFL.
Today, he is the color commentator for the Allen Wranglers Indoor Football team and host of the “Drew Pearson Show”. The show has a purpose but not one a football fan would think, the show grants wishes through the Make-A-Wish Foundation and also through Toys-For-Tots. Pearson has taken on the task of helping those get those final wishes as they battle a terminal illness.
A member of the Dallas Cowboy Ring of Honor since 2011, Pearson and his wife, the former Marsha Haynes whose father is famed Harlem Globetrotter, Marques Haynes, live in Plano, Texas.
To keep up with Pearson, visit his website drewpearson88.com