Fox Sports Net's critically-acclaimed original series continues with another new episode profiling superstar running back Tony Dorsett. In this episode, BTG tells the story of how this Heisman Trophy winner succeeded against all odds and despite his humble roots, went on to become one of the greatest football players in history. BEYOND THE GLORY: TONY DORSETT airs Sun., April 4 at 8:00 PM.
Tony Dorsett, the youngest of seven siblings, was raised in Aliquippa, PA, in a government-owned community known as "the plans." Instead of attending the local high school in Aliquippa, he was bused to the nearby Hopewell Township High School, a predominately white school where football was the only sport that mattered. "I went to school in one world, but when I was through with school, I came back to what I called 'the real world,' my world." (Dorsett)
Dorsett played each game with an unparalleled level of determination, dedicating each play to earning the respect of one man: his father. Weighing only 147 pounds, Dorsett was the fastest tailback the Hopewell Vikings had ever seen, and in the two years he played for them, his team lost only two games.
After graduating high school, Dorsett, who could have attended any college he desired, agreed to play for Johnny Majors' Pittsburgh Panthers, a team that had not been to a bowl game in seventeen years. Despite their losing record, Dorsett took on the challenge and turned the team into champions.
In his freshman year, he broke the all-time single-game rushing record then bested that record in his junior year running for 303 yards against Notre Dame. By the end of his senior year, in addition to winning the national championship and completing the season with a perfect record, Dorsett had also won the Heisman Trophy and became the NCAA's all-time leading rusher.
But his success did not end there. Dorsett was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys as the 2nd overall pick in the 1977 draft. In his rookie year, he led the Cowboys to the Super Bowl, taking home the championship. Dorsett also became the first NFL player to ever gain more than 1,000 yards in each of his first five seasons.
In 1987, the Cowboys brought in another football great in Herschel Walker, trading Dorsett to the Denver Broncos where he played his final season. After suffering a knee injury during training camp one year later, Dorsett decided it was over and ended his career at the time as the all-time leading NFL rusher with 12,739 yards.
In 1994, years after he had retired, Dorsett was inducted into both the collegiate and NFL Hall-of-Fames and will forever be remembered as one of the greatest players the game has ever seen. "I loved the game, but I don't miss it. The human body wasn't made for this type of abuse anyways, so I'm fortunate to do what I've done for so many years and I thank God for it." (Dorsett)
Those interviewed in addition to Tony Dorsett include: mother Myrtle Dorsett, son Anthony Dorsett, sister Juanita Dorsett, brother Keith Dorsett, high school head coach Butch Ross, college teammate John Pelusi, college head coach Johnny Majors, Cowboys teammates Tony Hill, Robert Newhouse and Roger Staubach
More excerpts from the documentary:
Tony Dorsett on his father – "He was closer to my older brothers than to me. It took something away from me that I so dearly needed and wanted – it was that closeness with my dad."
On the death threats he received while in Dallas – "I was coming down here young, gifted and black and I was running my mouth and maybe some people took offense to that. I really hate to think that was the case."
Butch Ross on Tony Dorsett – "When people ask me about Tony, I think the chief thing that he had within him was the inner pride factor. Whenever he did anything, he'd put his mind to it, then he went out and accomplished it."
Johnny Majors on Dorsett and his 1976 Panthers – "I believe he was the greatest football player I ever saw, and I thought the '76 team was one of the great football teams in football history."
Anthony Dorsett on his father – "I tell him he made the game look a little too easy sometimes."
On his father's accomplishments – "Come out of college and in one year, win the national championship, the Heisman Trophy and the Super Bowl, you're pretty much setting yourself up for failure for the rest of your career, because what else can you accomplish after that?"
Robert Newhouse on Tony Dorsett – "The decision was made to change the offense philosophy for one guy. Running the ball, getting the yardage, making the tough plays, it was Tony Dorsett."
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