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Jethro Pugh

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No. 75
Position: Defensive tackle
Personal information
Date of birth: (1944-07-03)July 3, 1944
Place of birth: Windsor, North Carolina
Date of death: January 7, 2015(2015-01-07) (aged 70)
Place of death: Dallas, Texas
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Career information
High school: Windsor (NC) Bertie
College: Elizabeth City State
NFL draft: 1965 / Round: 11 / Pick: 145
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career Template:If empty statistics
Games: 183
Fumbles recovered: 14
Safeties: 2
Interceptions: 1
Quarterback Sacks: 95.5 (unofficial)
Stats at
Stats at

Jethro Pugh, Jr. (July 3, 1944 – January 7, 2015) was an American football defensive tackle in the National Football League (NFL) for the Dallas Cowboys.

Early years

Pugh was born in Windsor, North Carolina. After going to Bertie High School, Pugh attended Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina at the age of 16, where he played offense and defense and became a two-time All-CIAA defensive end in 1963 and 1964.[1] He is one of five persons to have his jersey retired by Elizabeth City State University.

In 1979, he was inducted into the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) Hall of Fame. In 1980, he was inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame. In 1981, he was inducted into the ECSU Sports Hall of Fame. In 2010, he was inducted into the National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame.[2]

Professional career

Pugh was selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the 11th round of the 1965 NFL Draft and was also offered a contract to play with the Oakland Raiders of the AFL. He was only 20 years old when he started his professional career as a backup defensive end for the Cowboys. At the end of the 1966 season, he was moved to left defensive tackle replacing Jim Colvin in the starting lineup.[3]

He played with the Cowboys for his entire career, from 1965 through 1978. His 14 seasons represent the fourth-longest career in Cowboys history; only Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Bill Bates and Mark Tuinei played more years.

Pugh was the player who was blocked by Jerry Kramer on the Green Bay Packers' final play of the Ice Bowl, the 1967 NFL championship game. Kramer's block on Pugh cleared the way for Bart Starr to score on a 1-yard quarterback sneak with 16 seconds remaining, lifting Vince Lombardi's team to a 21-17 victory in minus-15 degree weather at Lambeau Field.[4] Always a team player, he carried on through the 1971 season with a case of appendicitis and delayed his surgery until the offseason, by taking shots of penicillin.[5]

Although he was widely regarded as an excellent player and received All-Pro honors, he was never voted to a Pro Bowl. Pugh's achievements as a professional athlete were largely overshadowed for most of his career by his defensive line teammates, who were Pro Bowl regulars. When Pugh started, he had to compete for attention with future Hall of Famer Bob Lilly and George Andrie; when they retired, Pugh played in the same defensive line with Randy White, Harvey Martin and Ed "Too Tall" Jones.

Even though he was a physical player against the run, he utilized his athletism to become a great pass rusher for a defensive tackle.

While Quarterback sacks were not an official NFL statistic during Pugh's career, he is unofficially credited with a career total of 95.5. He led the Cowboys in sacks each season from 1968 to 1972 with a high mark of 15.5 in 1968, a team record that stood until 2010 when DeMarcus Ware reached six straight seasons.[6] He averaged 12½ sacks, during one amazing stretch of his career (19681972) and currently ranks sixth on the Cowboys all-time sacks list with 95.5.[7]

Pugh retired on January 29, 1979 season,[8] after helping the Cowboys win 2 Super Bowls, 5 NFC Championships, qualify for the NFL post-season in 12 out of 14 seasons and played in a then league record 23 playoff games.

Personal life

Pugh owned a number of western-themed gift shops at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport in Texas.[9] He also hosted an annual Jethro Pugh Celebrity Golf Tournament in Dallas to raise funds for the United Negro College Fund. Pugh died on January 7, 2015 in Dallas, Texas at the age of 70.[10]


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