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Barbara Terry interview with Tony Dorsett

In Dallas and NFL circles, Tony Dorsett is a legend. He was Rookie of the Year in the NFL as a Cowboy, win­ning a Super Bowl his first year after winning the College National Championship the previous year. He was the first guy to break a 99-yard run from scrimmage in the NFL, a record he still shares. He was a four-time Pro Bowler. He’s the only guy ever to win a Heisman, College Championship, Super Bowl and be in both the College and NFL Halls of Fame. Though he ended his career with the Denver Broncos, he’s a Cowboy through and through.


What was your first car?

My first car was a 1960 Dodge. It was one of those hand-me-downs from one of my brothers. We called it “The Blue Goose” because it was a big blue Dodge. I don’t remember what kind of Dodge, but it was a big four-door and I had retread tires on it. Every week, sometimes even twice a week, I’d go and get new retread tires. We were in the projects and did not have a whole lot. The springs would break on it and I had a leak in my break lines. I’ll never forget, one day I was trying to hustle a little. I would stand outside by the bars and these elderly people would come out and they would be kind of stumbling. They’d want a ride home. So I had a little taxi service. I’d give them a ride home and they’d give me a few bucks. Back then, you could buy a whole lot of gas. So that was my hustle.

This one lady I was taking home was getting out of the car real slow and I told her, ‘My brake lines are bad. You gotta get out of the car and shut the door because I cannot stop all of the way!’

One day I was at the top of a hill. It looked like it was flat, so when I get to the top it’s not flat and then my car cut off. So my car is flying backwards down this hill. I’m looking backwards and I’m trying to steer and see where I’m going. As I’m flying down the hill, a lot of the guys in the street thought I was trying to chase them

with my car, so they scattered. It got to the point that I was either going to hit these parked cars or these big cement steps going up to somebody’s house. I had to make a choice and I figured my dad would be pretty mad at me if I hit these parked cars, so I went for the steps. I tore them steps up. And guess what? In that Dodge I only had a dent in my bumper, just about the size of a softball.

How fast do you think you were going down that hill backwards?

Well, it felt like I was going 100 miles per hour! I was so scared. But I was probably only going 25 to 30 miles per hour coming down backwards, and picking up speed. I couldn’t stop.

Well, it’s a good thing the steps were there. Back then, driving the “Blue Goose” around, what was your dream car?

My dream car was a Buick Electra 225. We called it a duce and a quarter. I wanted it so bad because they were nice big cars, and clean. Back in the neighbor­hood, some of the older guys had them and they were really sharp cars back then. All I wanted was the duce and a quarter. But, when I got a chance to get a car, I didn’t get it. I got a big Lincoln Town Car.

What was that first prize possession car that you spoiled yourself with after that first big professional con­tract?

When I first got drafted, I bought a dove gray with bur­gundy interior Lincoln Continental with a big old tire kit on the back of it, with some nice little white-wall tires on it. I had the sunroof top, digging the scene and gangster lean. I was big-time when I got that. Then I finally realized that I really didn’t need those big cars and I started getting into sports cars.

Now we were talking. He ran fast. Figured he’s driven fast, too. What did you start driving?

I went to the Porsche Carrera, black. Then I went to a red Porsche Turbo widebody, and then I went to the Mercedes SL. I went to the SL and the SEL, and since then, I’ve been driving Mercedes.

How many cars do you think you’ve had since the origi­nal “Blue Goose?”

About 14 since “The Goose.”

What’s your favorite color combination when it comes to cars?

My favorite is black on black. When you get a black car and it’s shining and you’ve got some wheels on it, you can’t beat it.

But black on black is ugly when it’s dirty.

It is ugly when it’s dirty, you’re right. They look bad. You gotta keep them clean. That’s why I stopped buying black cars, because it was, like, too hard just trying to keep them clean all the time. When I got this Mercedes I have now, I was in the showroom store down at Park Place Mercedes and I was looking at this one, like, wow. I said peanut but­ter and jelly because it is burgundy on the outside and tan on the inside. I saw it on the showroom floor and I just had to have it. When I first got it, someone was giving me smack about it being ‘Redskins colors.’ I said do not call my car Redskins colors. Do not go there with that. This is peanut butter and jelly!

I don’t drive it enough. I need to drive it more because it’s a real nice car. I don’t know what the horsepower is because I never get caught up in that stuff, but all I know is it runs like a spotted-ass ape. It flies. I was going 120 or something like that and I got a ticket.

So, 120. Is that the fastest that you have driven in a car?

Yeah, pulling some G-force. Buckle up!

Come on now! You didn’t completely open up one of those 911s that you had?

Nope. I don’t like to go so fast. I get scared. I think we’re gonna get a blowout or I’m gonna lose control. When you’re on the field, playing, you are in control of your speed. But you’re subservient when you’re behind a steer­ing wheel. It’s a little bit different when you’ve got machin­ery and you don’t have total control over it. It would be okay if I could push the eject button and fly out if I lose control, but you are at the mercy of not knowing where you’ll end up.

Is there a dream car that you’ve never pulled the trigger on?

Yeah, a Bentley. The reason I haven’t done it is, I was just thinking that I could do more with that money than riding in a Bentley. Like I could buy some real estate. I just have a problem spending that much money for an automobile.

What about motorcycles. Have you ever had a Harley?

If I had it my way, I’d have a bike right now. But my wife and daughters won’t let me. When I was coming out of

college, I was back home messing around with some of the boys, and the boys were talking and hanging out, and a boy came by on a Honda. I always wanted to try one, so I asked to let me try riding it and he showed me how to do it. When I was driving, I just happened to close my eyes and squeeze, and I hit the hand brakes. I got in a panic because I was losing control. When you’re losing control, you grip down. When you grip, that’s the problem.

That was my first time, so after that, I went and bought me a bike. I got a Kawasaki 750. I’ll never forget that first bike. I go to the Kawasaki place and we’re up there and they have this little trail where you can ride the bike. That was a lot more power than the Honda, so I didn’t know if I should do it. The guy told me I’d handle it real good. One of my friends I played ball with kept telling me I should get it. So I got the bike and I almost never ended up playing ball again. I was on campus one time and everybody was out there in the yard. I would go out and get on my bike and I’d try to show off a little bit. I took off again and, like I said, when you panic, you grip, and I gripped the handles. In Pittsburgh, we have Fourth Avenue, which goes down like a four-lane street. And we have Fifth Avenue. I was on the Fifth Avenue side and I took off, trying to show off, and I panicked and I gripped. We had a bunch of cars just parked along the street because it’s the city and I turned just at the right minute. If I just would’ve gone a little further, I would’ve gotten hurt. I liked them, though, and I kept riding them. When you see people popping wheelies and driving down alleys they’ve lost respect for the bike. Those are the people you’re gonna see caught in a ditch somewhere or get hurt someday – really bad – because they don’t respect the bike.

It was a part of the NFL contract, riding motorcycles is a no-no. There was this guy on a team who had a bike and he ended up getting hurt Fie went to the playoffs and didn’t get any playoff money. That didn’t worry me too much, that part of it, but what worried me was the fact that going down the highways, the bike was kind of quiet. I changed the pipes on the sucker to let them know I’m coming because I know myself that there’s some blind spots in your mirrors. I’ve almost hit cycles a few times. I’ve kind of drifted away from bikes.

So, what is on your car’s radio while you are cruising around town?

ESPN.

Interesting. All those years in pro sports, you’re a big sports talk radio guy?

I love sports. I do. I don’t really listen to a lot of sports radio anymore, but I’m an old-school guy. I got a lot of old- school music in my car. I listen to some nice jazz on the radio and that kind of stuff. I’m not into all of the hip-hop rap stuff. I’m not really into a whole lot of that.

How old were you when you got your driver’s license?

I was 16 when I got my license. My first driving experi­ence, me and my friend had these girls we were dating. One of my oldest brothers ended up giving me the ‘Blue Goose.’ We were trying to take them back home and they were doing their thing, trying to play cards back there, down at the playground and stuff. I told them they needed to take these girls back home and he gave me the keys and said, ‘Here, take them.’

How old were you?

I was, like, 14.

Was that the first time you were ever behind the wheel?

Yeah. My first time behind the wheel. I almost tore that thing up. We were kind of sneaking with these girls. We were taking them back and we thought it was their par­ents or something that got behind us, and we were taking off. We were on roads I’d never been on in this big old Dodge. We were rolling, but I was scared to death. We were almost hit because some of those back roads had those mailboxes that looked like sawed-off telephone poles. I almost hit seven of those. That was my first driving experience and, from then, on it was smooth sailing.

Is that your favorite car of all time or was there one of those 911s, maybe, that was your favorite? Let’s say, when you’re thinking about all the cars that you had. what car do you think brings the biggest smile to your face?

The ‘Blue Goose.’

Because of all the funny stories, right?

Yeah. But now I appreciate my S550 more so. The SL500 was a nice car, my Porsches are nice-looking, but when you’re in traffic, I’m, like, enough of this. It used to hurt the bottom of my foot, using the clutch so much. I like this Mercedes sedan, ‘Peanut Butter and Jelly.’ I do.

Do you have anything going on in your life right now that you want to talk about like a charity?

I have a great charity going on right now called the McGuire Memorial Foundation. I’ve had a golf round every year for the last 17 years in the Pittsburgh area. It’s called the McGuire Memorial Foundation Tony Dorsett Celebrity Golf Outing. It’s for special-needs kids. When we started this thing, we had about 98 kids in the home that couldn’t walk or talk. It’s supported by the state and we have the nuns that run it up there. It’s a bad situation from the kids’ perspective, but it’s a great charity because it touches a lot of people. I tell my sponsors that, to understand my passion, you just need to take a trip to the home. If you take one trip to that home, it’ll cause something to touch you and you’re going to wanna do anything you can, whatever you can, for that home and those kids.

Do you have any favorite road trips that stick out in your mind, either as a kid or right now?

It wasn’t in a car. I had rented a 40-foot tricked-out RV last summer for a two-week trip. It was my oldest daughter’s last summer with us because she’s gonna be going to school at Oklahoma State in June for bas­ketball. We were on the road and we met up with them in Kentucky, and we went to South Carolina, up to Pittsburgh. Then we came back up through the Virginia area. We had my nephew and he drives 18- wheelers, so he was helping me drive on the way back. It was my wife, my daughters, one of my daugh­ter’s teammates, and we were rolling.

That is fun stuff. Are you going to hit the road again in an RV?

Oh, I loved it, especially with family because it’s so much quality time and time to get reconnected. When you’re in an RV, you have everything there. We cooked a bunch of food and had a refrigerator. You have the restroom, you have everything set. It’s like a house on wheels, so you get to spend a lot of quality time with your family. It’s really great. You do what you want to do, you travel how you wanna travel. If you wanna stop in this town, you can stop in this town. We did one before. We went down to Myrtle Beach and had a fun time. But we stayed at the beach too long. We were gonna come back through Arkansas and take them to the presidential libraries and everything up in Arkansas, and go to Hot Springs, but we couldn’t do it because we stayed at the beach too long.

That gives you something to do on your next RV road trip!

But next time I wanna go west. I’ve been east twice. Now I wanna go west.

Having grown up in Dallas, I was very honored to meet Tony. What I found was a very nice, gentle man who was relaxed and very interesting. I first met him at a Cowboys playoff game that Too Tall Jones had treated me to inside an amaz­ing suite at the new Cowboys Stadium. After we inter­viewed him and took his photos, we grabbed some lunch with him at one of his favorite Cajun restaurants.


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