Jethro Pugh, an unsung member of the Doomsday Defense that helped the Dallas Cowboys win two Super Bowls in the 1970s, has died. He was 70.
The team said Pugh died of natural causes Wednesday, four days before the Cowboys were to play their first NFL postseason game in Green Bay since the famous Ice Bowl in 1967.
FOR THE RECORD
Jan. 8, 8:47 a.m.: A caption on this story previously identified Jethro Pugh as No. 66; he was No. 75 for the Dallas Cowboys.
Pugh and Hall of Famer Bob Lilly were fellow defensive linemen who endured sub-zero temperatures in a 21-17 Dallas loss that sent the Packers to a second straight title at the start of the Super Bowl era with a victory over Oakland.
"He was a terribly unsung person among that bunch of great players we had," said Gil Brandt, who was the personnel director when the Cowboys drafted Pugh in the 11th round in 1965.
Pugh was the first Dallas player to lead the team in sacks five straight seasons (1968 to 1972). DeMarcus Ware, the franchise sacks leader, was the only other to do it. Pugh is fifth on the team's career list with 991/2 sacks.
Born July 3, 1944, in Windsor, N.C., Pugh played football at historically black Elizabeth City State College in North Carolina. He became a starter for the Cowboys the year of the Ice Bowl and started his five-year streak of leading the team in sacks a year later.
Pugh played on Dallas teams that beat Miami and Denver in Super Bowls after the 1971 and 1977 seasons. He was on teams that lost to Baltimore and Pittsburgh.
The final season for Pugh was 1978, when he played in 13 regular-season games but missed the playoffs, including a loss to Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl.
"He would have been a top 10-type player in the draft today," Brandt said. "He was big, long arms, very athletic, very fast. Just a great competitor. Smart. He was well beyond his years."
Pugh never made the Pro Bowl in 14 seasons, while teammates Lilly, Randy White, Mel Renfro, Cliff Harris and Chuck Howley combined for 42 all-star appearances. Pugh was second-team All-Pro in 1968.
After football, Pugh had a successful career as a businessman with a company that runs airport concessions.
Dixon writes for the Associated Press.