Cliff Harris

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Cliff Harris

10 Seasons
141 Games
6 Pro Bowls
29 Career Interceptions
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(Ouachita Baptist)...6'0'', 188...Signed as free agent, 1970 … Noted for hard-hitting style of play … Defensive leader of Cowboys team that advanced to postseason in every season but one during his career … Helped Cowboys capture seven division titles … Played in 21 playoff games including seven NFC championship games and five Super Bowls … Career stats: 29 interceptions for 281 yards, 1 TD … 66 punt returns for 418 yards and 63 kickoff returns for 1,622 yards … Selected First-Team All-Pro four straight seasons, 1975-78 … All-NFC five times (1974, 1976-79) … Voted to six consecutive Pro Bowls … Named to NFL’s All-Decade Team of 1970s … Born November 12, 1948 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

BIO

Cliff Harris Dallas Cowboys

In 1970, the Dallas Cowboys, like every other team in the National Football League, opted not to select safety Cliff Harris during any of the 17 rounds of the annual player draft.  Even though the Cowboys were clearly interested in improving their secondary – they drafted safety Charlie Waters and cornerback Mark Washington and traded for future Hall of Fame cornerback Herb Adderley – Harris went undrafted. 

However, after watching films of tiny Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, the Cowboys scouting department and coaching staff agreed he was worth a free agent tryout.  Harris was playing semi-pro football with the Southern California Rhinos when the Cowboys extended him an offer. 

Harris earned a starter’s berth as a free safety, but his rookie season was interrupted by obligatory military service.   He returned the following year in time for training camp and regained his starter’s role.  It was a role he would not relinquish during his 10-year career. 

A model of consistency throughout his career, Harris earned the nickname “Captain Crash” for his hard-hitting technique.  “A rolling ball of butcher knives,” was how Hall of Fame Coach George Allen described the Cowboys’ free safety. 

Hall of Fame safety Larry Wilson also offered high praise for Harris.  “I feel Harris is the finest free safety in the business today,” Wilson said in 1979.  “He’s changed the way the position is being played.  You see other teams modeling their free safeties around the way Harris plays, strong as can be against the run, able to go back and cover against the pass and striking fear in everyone on the field because he hits so hard.” 

In addition to 29 career interceptions, “Captain Crash” also accounted for 16 opponents’ fumble recoveries. During the first half of his career he was also utilized by the Cowboys as a punt and kickoff return specialist. 

Harris was also an astute student of the game.  His vision and leadership on the field earned him the respect of teammates and opponents alike.  “Their front four, even though it was a great front four, really wasn’t a concern,” commented Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw, who faced the Cowboys in Super Bowls X and XIII.  “We blocked them pretty well.  But their secondary was just great.  Safeties Charlie Waters and Cliff Harris were super.”

Six times during his 10-season career Harris was recognized by his peers and the league’s coaches by being invited to play in the Pro Bowl.  He was also named first- or second-team All-Pro or All-NFC and six times.

STATS

Cliff Harris's Stats

 

 

 

 

 

Interceptions

 

Punt returns

Kickoff returns

Year

Team

G

No.

Yds.

Avg.

TD

No.

Yds.

Avg.

TD

No.

Yds.

Avg.

TD

1970

Dallas

11

2

66

33.0

0

 

 

 

 

1

22

22.0

0

1971

Dallas

14

2

0

0.0

0

17

129

7.6

0

29

823

28.4

0

1972

Dallas

14

3

40

13.3

0

19

78

4.1

0

26

615

23.7

0

1973

Dallas

14

2

9

4.5

0

3

20

6.7

0

6

148

24.7

0

1974

Dallas

14

3

8

2.7

0

26

193

7.4

0

1

14

14.0

0

1975

Dallas

14

3

58

19.3

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1976

Dallas

14

3

32

10.7

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1977

Dallas

14

5

7

1.4

0

1

-2

-2.0

0

 

 

 

 

1978

Dallas

16

4

26

6.5

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1979

Dallas

16

2

35

17.5

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Career Total

141

29

281

9.7

1

66

418

6.3

0

63

1622

25.7

0

 



CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES

Cliff Harris's Championship Games

Championship Games

1970 NFC – Dallas Cowboys 17, San Francisco 49ers 10

Harris did not start but played in the game.


1971 NFC Dallas Cowboys 14, San Francisco 49ers 3

Harris started at right safety.  He had one tackle, two assists, one pass defensed, one pass interception for 2 yards, one kickoff return for 19 yards, one punt return for 1 yard, and one fair catch on a punt.


1972 NFC – Washington Redskins 26, Dallas Cowboys 3

Harris started at right safety.  He had three tackles, two assists, two kickoff returns for 29 yards, one fair catch on a punt, one fumble recovery, and one pass defensed.


1973 NFC – Minnesota Vikings 27, Dallas Cowboys 10

Harris started at right safety.  He had six tackles, three assists, one fumble recovery, and two kickoff returns for 54 yards.


1975 NFC Dallas Cowboys 37, Los Angeles Rams 7

Harris started at right safety.  He had seven tackles and one interception for 22 yards, and one punt return for 9 yards.


1977 NFC Dallas Cowboys 23, Minnesota Vikings 6

Harris started at free safety.  He had two tackles and five assists.


1978 NFC Dallas Cowboys 28, Los Angeles Rams 0

Harris started at free safety.  He had three tackles, two assists, one pass defensed, and one interception for 5 yards.

 

Super Bowls


Super Bowl V – Baltimore Colts 16, Dallas Cowboys 13

Harris did not start but played in the game.  He had one tackle and one fumble recovered.


Super Bowl VIDallas Cowboys 24, Miami Dolphins 3

Harris started at right safety.  He had eight tackles, two assists, one pass defensed, and two fair catches on a punt.


Super Bowl X – Pittsburgh Steelers 21, Dallas Cowboys 17

Harris started at right safety.  He had five tackles, 11 assists, and three passes defensed.


Super Bowl XIIDallas Cowboys 27, Denver Broncos 10

Harris started at free safety.  He had two tackles, one assist, and one pass defensed.


Super Bowl XIIIPittsburgh Steelers 35, Dallas Cowboys 31

Harris started at free safety.  He had three tackles, three assists, one pass defensed.

 



CAREER HIGHLIGHTS

Cliff Harris's Career Highlights

All-League Teams           

All-Pro:  1975 (NEA)  ·  1976 (AP, PFWA, NEA, PW)  ·  1977 (AP, PFWA, NEA, PW)  ·  1978 (AP, PFWA, PW)


All-Pro Second Team: 1974 (NEA)  ·  1975 (PFWA)  ·  1978 (NEA)


All-NFC: 1974 (UPI, SN, PW)  ·  1976 (AP, UPI, SN, PW)  ·  1977 (UPI, SN, PW)  ·  1978 (UPI, SN, PW)  ·  1979 (SN)


All-NFC Second Team: 1975 (UPI)  ·  1979 (UPI)

           

Pro Bowls

(6) – 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980

 

In the NFL Record Book (at time of his retirement following 1979 season)

 

Super Bowl Records

·       [Tied for 1st] Most Games – 5 (V, VI, X, XII, XIII)


Post-season Records

·       [Tied for 1st] Most Opponents Fumbles Recovered, Career – 4

·       [Tied for 3rd] Most Games, Career – 21


Team Records

Cowboys records held by Harris at the time of his retirement following the 1979 season

·       [Tied for 1st] Most Fair Catches, Game – 4 (vs. San Francisco, Dec. 23, 1972)

·       [2nd] Highest Average Kickoff Return, Career – 25.7

·       [2nd] Most Fair Catches, Season – 16 (1972)

·       [2nd] Highest Average Kickoff Return, Season – 28.4 (1971)

·       [Tied for 2nd] Most Kickoff Return Yardage, Season – 823 (1971)

 

League/Team Statistical Titles

 

Team Statistical Championships

Interception Leader: 1974, 1977, 1979*

Kickoff Return Leader: 1971, 1972

Punt Return Leader: 1971, 1972

* Co-leader

 

Awards and Honors

·    1970s All-Decade Team

 

Year-by-Year Team Records

1970     Dallas Cowboys............... 10-4-0   (1st)

1971     Dallas Cowboys............... 11-3-0   (1st)

1972     Dallas Cowboys............... 10-4-0   (2nd)

1973     Dallas Cowboys............... 10-4-0   (1st)

1974     Dallas Cowboys.................. 8-6-0   (3rd)

1975     Dallas Cowboys............... 10-4-0   (2nd)

1976     Dallas Cowboys............... 11-3-0   (1st)

1977     Dallas Cowboys............... 12-2-0   (1st)  

1978     Dallas Cowboys............... 12-4-0   (1st)

1979     Dallas Cowboys............... 11-5-0   (1st)

(Division Finish in Parentheses)

Qualified for Postseason in Bold

CAREER CAPSULE

Cliff Harris's Career Capsule

Full Name: Clifford Allen Harris

Birthdate: November 12, 1948

Birthplace: Fayetteville, Arkansas

High School: Fayetteville (AR)

Pro Career: 10 seasons, 141 games

Acquired: Signed as a free agent by Dallas, 1970



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