Don Perkins was a six-time Pro Bowl running back for the Dallas Cowboys in the 1960s. He was 84 years old when he died. Perkins died Thursday, according to the NFL team and the University of New Mexico, where he was a successful player prior to his professional career. The reason of death has not been revealed.
While he was initially drafted by the Baltimore Colts in the ninth round of the 1960 draft, Perkins had already signed a personal services contract with the expansion Cowboys. Dallas got his rights after sending the Colts a ninth-round draft pick.
From 1961 through 1968, Perkins rushed for 6,217 yards in 107 games with the Cowboys, ranking fourth on the team’s all-time rushing tally behind two Pro Football Hall of Famers – NFL lifetime rushing leader Emmitt Smith and Tony Dorsett – and current running back Ezekiel Elliott. Perkins has 42 running touchdowns, which is tied for seventh most in franchise history.
Perkins missed the Cowboys’ inaugural season in 1960 because of a broken foot. He rushed for 815 yards in 1961, and finished third in the voting for NFL rookie of the year behind Mike Ditka and Fran Tarkenton. He had a career-best 945 yards rushing in 1962.
“Don is one of the greatest Lobos, and certainly one of the greatest football players to play for UNM. He was a tremendous student-athlete, and he had a terrific career in the NFL, but he was more than that,” New Mexico athletic director Eddie Nuñez said. “He came back to New Mexico and worked for the state and was a tremendous ambassador for so many.”
Born in Waterloo, Iowa, Perkins played for New Mexico from 1957-59. He was a team captain his final two seasons when the Lobos coach was Marv Levy. Perkins returned to the Albuquerque area after his pro football career was over.
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