Anyone who has met or talked to Robert Newhouse for more than a minute has a story about the man whose halfback option pass to Golden Richards resulted in a touchdown in Super Bowl XII. It helped the Cowboys beat the Broncos 27-10 for their second Lombardi Trophy.
He was a part of Cowboys history. But for many of us, he was so much more. He was a man we were lucky enough to call a friend.
From revisiting the fields at Cal Lutheran College and reminiscing about Cowboys training camp in the 1970's to simply chatting with him in the hallways of Valley Ranch, House (as we all called him) was always willing to answer questions or offer a kind word.
Not Wanting To Let Down Coach Landry
Hearing him describe Cowboys training camp at Cal Lutheran College remains a highlight of my professional career. For a story for Cowboys TV in the early 2000's, I along with House, the late John Chang and Chris Behm visited CLC to get his impression of the Cowboys training camp home two decades later.
We walked the path House and his teammates took day after day from the dorms to the practice fields. He admitted that the path seemed longer and hotter during those training camp days in the 1970's than it actually was. We toured the exact dorm he shared with teammates. We saw the desk where he studied his playbook.
He described the pain his body felt during camp as he tried to get back in shape for the season. It was the soreness so many of us feel after pushing ourselves. He wouldn't let that pain stop him. He didn't want to be the player who let down Coach Landry by being a step slow in practice. He reiterated that "not disappointing Coach Landry concept" a number of times during our tour of CLC.
I am not sure that matters to many players today.
One Last Visit
The last time I saw Robert Newhouse was about two years ago. He suffered a stroke in 2010. He was not the strong man with those powerful running back's thighs we all grew to love. He didn't have the strength to be that man, yet he was true to who he was: kind, warm and generous.
Understanding this could be one of our final visits, I selfishly reminded him of some of the sillier experiences we've had: a random dinner with John and Chris at El Pollo Loco, coffee with a certain Pro Football Hall of Famer at the Beverly Hills Hotel along with countless Valley Ranch visits dominated by me pestering him about aspects of the game. He has helped me understand more about the NFL than I ever deserved to know.
It's so easy to romanticize those Cowboys players of the 1970's. I have had the good fortune of meeting most of them. They're all great guys. Robert Newhouse, though, was perhaps one of the best: a genuine man who cared. A person who made an impression. An impression that lasts a lifetime.