Gold Jacket Spotlight: Drew Pearson, ‘Mr. Clutch For Cowboys

A “Gamebreakers” story observed that the highest football accolade Drew Pearson received at the University of Tulsa was the University President’s Award, emblematic of the team’s “Best Spirited and Unselfish Member.” 

An undrafted free agent, Drew only needed an opportunity to prove his athletic prowess to the team that signed him.

“He was a natural,” observed Tulsa coach Claude Gibson. “Moving him from quarterback was the best thing for him personally, but the worst thing for me (Gibson was fired midway through that season) and the team because we didn’t have anyone to run the option right. It’s ridiculous he wasn’t drafted.”

“I never doubted my ability. I knew all I needed was a chance to show what I could do,” Drew said. 


Drew was correct, and the Dallas Cowboys provided the opportunity. 

With three veteran wide receivers on the 1973 roster, Dallas brought 41 free agents to training camp, Drew among them. He found ways to separate himself from the pack.

An Associated Press story declared, “Drew stuck with the Cowboys in training camp because he was a hard worker, returned punts and showed a relish for the specialty teams.”

“Pearson has displayed an uncanny knack for getting open against the sophisticated zone defenses. The kid can really take the knocks,” linebackers coach Jerry Tubbs observed. “His hands are excellent. He has good moves and isn’t afraid to block. I do believe we’ve really found us something.” 

Inserted into the wide receiver spot after injuries to Otto Stowe and Mike Montgomery during the 1973 season, Drew, again, made the most of an opportunity.

“Drew has established himself as a top receiver,” coach Tom Landry said at the time. 
“(Roger) Staubach feels he can hit him at any time, the same way he felt about Stowe before he got hurt.”

Indeed, Drew and Staubach would connect often, and in critical moments, earning Drew the nickname, “Mr. Clutch.”

“Drew is the one we count on for the clutch catches because he runs such disciplined routes and can catch anything thrown in his direction,” Landry added.

St. Louis Cardinals defensive back and future Hall of Famer Roger Wehrli noted, “Anything he touches he catches.”

Revisit Dec. 28, 1975, when the duo of Drew and Staubach connected for an historically significant pass play, forever known as the “Hail Mary.” Considered one of the top plays in NFL history, the action occurred during an NFC Divisional Round game against the Minnesota Vikings.

“Drew was such a great player with great hands,” declared Staubach. “Basically, I just told Drew, ‘Try to make a move and go deep.’ We were in the shotgun, and I just pumped to the left to try and move Paul Krause a step or two over. After I pumped there, I threw it a little bit short. Nate Wright slipped. Drew Pearson made a great catch.”

Drew called it “the most thrilling catch of my career.

“It was unbelievable, tremendous, fantastic. What more can I say?”

A few things that can be said: Drew played 11 seasons in the NFL, appeared in three Pro Bowls and three Super Bowls and was a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1970s. He collected 7,822 receiving yards and tallied 48 touchdowns.

Prior to Drew’s enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2021, he was inducted into the Tulsa Athletics Hall of Fame in 1985 and added to the Cowboys Ring of Honor in 2011. Drew is also enshrined in a number of regional halls of fame.

“When I got into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, that is my mountaintop. That caps things off for me,” Drew told the Mic Drop podcast shortly after his enshrinement.

Success as a broadcaster, Arena Football League and XFL administrator, and entrepreneur continued after retiring from the Cowboys.

Upon his company, Drew Pearson Enterprises, being recognized as Black Enterprises Magazine’s 1994 Company of the Year, Drew said, “We go to work, we roll up our sleeves and do our jobs.”

Beyond the football knowledge imparted to him as a member of the Cowboys, Drew credited the organization with providing a business education as well when he told the podcast he, “watched and observed how the Dallas Cowboys did business, and that was my business education. All my business acumen and knowledge came from my experiences with the Dallas Cowboys.”