Cowboys’ Nate Newton enters Black College Football HoF


For 13 star-bearing seasons, Nate Newton was an anchor member of one of the most dominant offensive lines in NFL history, “The Great Wall of Dallas.” And he ended up being the most decorated of the bunch. He played on three Super Bowl-winning teams in the franchise’s biggest run. He won a trip to six Pro Bowls. He was named a first-team All-Pro twice.

Nate Newton did it all as a Cowboy. But he got footballing immortality for what he did as a Rattler.

Newton, 60, who last played professional ball in 1999, was inducted into the Black College Football Hall of Fame last weekend in Atlanta. Several Cowboys teammates – including Troy Aikman, Deion Sanders, Daryl Johnston, Tony Tolbert and Mark Stepnoski – were on hand to celebrate with him.

“I am humble. I am humble. It’s something special,” said Newton, by Clarence Hill of Fort Worth Star Telegram. “What makes me feel good is that my teammates were there, my sons, my brother and my sister. It was Father’s Day. There was a June 19 parade across the street. I had everyone who was someone for me there. What more can I ask for? How much better could this weekend have been? All I needed was for Jesus to come in and raise this thing up and get us out of here.

Even on teams laden with larger-than-life personalities, Newton has always been among the greatest, in every sense of the word.

Playing between 325 and nearly 370 pounds, Newton was nicknamed “The Kitchen” because he was even taller than William “The Refrigerator” Perry of the Chicago Bears.

The team tried to slim it down. Then-Cowboys owner Tex Schramm offered Newton an $80,000 bonus if he simply arrived at camp weighing less than 310.

“If someone offers you $80,000 to be unhappy, you shouldn’t take it,” Newton would say. “So [expletive] $80,000; I prefer eating.

Coming out of Florida A&M, Newton was selected by the Tampa Bay Bandits in the 1983 USFL Territorial Draft, but opted to sign with Washington in the NFL instead as an undrafted free agent. He was waived during training camp.

He returned to the Bandits and played two seasons in the USFL. After that league closed, he signed with the Cowboys as a free agent in 1986. He played 37 games under head coach Tom Landry before Jerry Jones bought the franchise in 1989.

Under new coach Jimmy Johnson, Newton saw a change in position – from left guard to right tackle – after the nearly 50-year-old coach beat Newton in a foot race. By 1992, however, he was back at left guard. The offensive line that also included Stepnoski, John Gesek, Erik Williams and Mark Tuinei helped running back Emmitt Smith win a rushing title and led the Cowboys to a 13-3 regular season record.

Dallas then strangled Buffalo 52-17 in Super Bowl XXVII to cap the season.

“It’s amazing,” Newton said that night in Pasadena. “I’m so filled with joy, I can’t even express it. If I could explode, I would. But I can’t, because my insurance isn’t reimbursed.

Good thing too. Newton would play his first Pro Bowl a week later.

It was the first of five straight Pro Bowl berths for Newton, who had become a bona fide celebrity in his own right. He is, after all, the player that John Madden once accused of polish a Snickers bar in the field in the middle of a live room.

“I was like, ‘Did a fucking candy bar just fly out of Nate’s body or am I imagining things?'” defensive back Larry Brown recalled.

Stepnoski recalls training camp fast food runs done on Newton’s behalf.

“The Kitchen” sent out a recruit several times a week and “came back with a sixty-piece box of Popeyes fried chicken, cookies, fries, and a case of Budweiser,” according to Jeff Pearlman’s book. Boys Will Be Boys: The Glory Days and Party Nights of the Dallas Cowboys Dynasty.

“Whoever was hungry would take a few pieces,” Stepnoski added. “Then Nate would eat the last fifteen or twenty pieces himself.”

Gesek would later say, “Quite frankly, the reason I think Nate went to six Pro Bowls is because his weight was such a joke that he got attention.”

September 15, 1996: Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman Nate Newton celebrates during a game against the Indianapolis Colts at Texas Stadium in Irving, Texas. The Colts won the game, 25-24. Mandatory Credit: Brian Bahr/Allsport

But Newton was much more than a punch line. The only Cowboys offensive linemen with more Pro Bowls under their belt are Hall of Famer Larry Allen (10), Tyron Smith (8) and Zack Martin (7). Newton’s six brings him closer to John Niland and Hall of Famer Rayfield Wright.

“I don’t see myself as a great player” Newton said last weekend. “I see myself as a good guy and someone you can rely on. Things keep happening for the good.

After 13 seasons with the Cowboys, Newton worked in a backup role at Carolina, but his playing career ended with a torn triceps tendon in his seventh game with the Panthers.

Newton got into trouble after quitting football, was arrested twice with large amounts of marijuana in his possession, and served 30 months in federal prison for drug trafficking.

Since then, however, he has become a motivational speaker for student-athletes across the country. He continued to be part of the extended Cowboys family, working for the team’s media department and website, as well as making appearances at alumni events.

And now his life as a footballer has taken him into the Black College Football Hall of Fame alongside HBCU legends such as Walter Payton, Jerry Rice and Doug Williams. Fellow Cowboys Bob Hayes, Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson, Ed “Too Tall” Jones, Timmy Newsome, Jethro Pugh, Everson Walls, Rayfield Wright and Erik Williams are also in attendance.

“I live life,” Newton summed up afterwards. “I’m a Dallas Cowboy. That’s where it all started and ended for me.


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