Throwback Thursday: Herb Adderley’s bitter Cowboys legacy

Often remembered as a Green Bay Packer, cornerback Herb Adderley has a complicated legacy as a Dallas Cowboy as well.

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Adderley, a member of the 1960s All-Decade Team, won eight championships during his 12-year career. At the time of his retirement, Adderley was 13th all-time in interceptions. He was traded to Dallas before the 1970 season and immediately had an impact. Dallas surged from the 11th ranked pass defense in 1969 to number three in 1970, and also made it to their first Super Bowl. Their loss to the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl V would be the only playoff loss of Adderley’s career. Adderley led the Cowboys in interceptions (six) the following season and helped lead America’s Team to their first Super Bowl title.

So why is his legacy complicated? Adderley was benched midway through the 1972 season for what Tom Landry viewed as on-field insubordination. The tension grew on both sides, which led to Adderley ultimately being traded to the Rams in the summer of 1973 (though he retired before taking a snap with the team).

Adderley wrote years later in his autobiography that Landry was a racist. Former Packers teammate Jerry Kramer alleged that Adderley once declared, “I’m the only man with a Dallas Cowboys Super Bowl ring who doesn’t wear it.”

Today is Adderley’s 78th birthday. To this day, he is one of the greatest cornerbacks to play the game of football and played a major role in how the Cowboys made their first two Super Bowls. It’s difficult, however, to associate Adderley as a Cowboy when he seems to have completely disowned the franchise. Nevertheless, we wish Herb Adderley a happy 78th birthday.

We hope the Cowboys legend has many more.

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