Any Dallas Cowboys fan with a little snow on the rooftop remembers Tony Dorsett slicing for bits of daylight while becoming one of the NFL’s greatest running backs.
Dorsett, or “Tony D” as he was called, is most remembered for taking a handoff at the 1-yard line against a tough Minnesota Vikings defense and sprinting for 99 yards on Jan. 3, 1983 to set the never-to-be-broken NFL record for longest run from scrimmage. That last sentence took longer to write than it took Dorsett to run 99 yards. Of course, runs like that come along once in a lifetime. Dorsett could make a four-yard run look like a thing of beauty. Quick, crafty, elusive, low to the ground, and smooooth, ‘ol No. 33 was king of the 5-yard bursts, the kind of runs that keep a team marching downfield. He rushed for more than 12,000 yards from 1977 to 1987 in Dallas. (He played a final season in Denver and retired in 1988.)
Dorsett’s Rookie of the Year season made him a local hero after he led the Cowboys to a Super Bowl victory. In the coming years, some fans would be turned off by his cocky, aloof nature and his off-the-field excesses. But most locals cheered on Tony D for a dazzling decade.
Elusiveness didn’t mean Dorsett avoided hits. His skill helped him squeeze an extra yard or two on each run, but those runs still ended with him crashing to the ground. The hits, concussions, and time added up. Now, the 61-year-old Dorsett is battling chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease with symptoms that includes dementia and depression.
Dorsett is selling his personal items at the upcoming Super Bowl 50 Live Auction in San Francisco. The collection will include jerseys, game balls, and trophies. The big draw will probably be his Rookie of the year Award, which is expected to fetch upward of $40,000.
“As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Super Bowl, I look forward to sharing some of my treasured memorabilia with many of my fans,” Dorsett said in a statement. “These items represent many of the greatest moments of my career and what better way to share them with my fans than on the biggest stage in football. I have kept many things in my collection for my family and I to enjoy but am very happy to be offering these pieces to my loyal Dallas Cowboys fans along with supporting a charity dear to my heart, Minnie’s Food Pantry.”
Part of the proceeds will go to the Plano-based nonprofit Minnie’s Food Pantry that serves hungry families.
The live auction is Friday, Feb. 5, and Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016. Bids can be made in person, by phone, or live online during the sale. More information and how to bid is available here.