Former Dallas Cowboy defensive lineman Jethro Pugh, a member of the legendary “Doomsday Defense,” passed away on Wednesday, January 7, 2015. He was 70 years of age.
“This is a sad day for Cowboys fans, and our thoughts and prayers go out to Jethro’s family,” said Dallas Cowboys Owner and General Manager Jerry Jones in a statement. “He was loved and appreciated by his teammates and Cowboys fans for decades, and his spirit will be felt when our team travels to Green Bay this weekend.”
From 1965 to 1978, Pugh helped anchor the defensive line, helping the Cowboys win their first two Super Bowls. He led the team in sacks from 1968 to 1972 and collected 95.5 during his career. Pugh, a tackle, rose to prominence after he was drafted in the eleventh round out of Elizabeth City State, a small school in North Carolina.
In his third season, he was involved in the defining play of the “Ice Bowl,” the 1967 NFL championship game between the Cowboys and Packers. Pugh was blocked by Jerry Kramer and Ken Bowman, as quarterback Bart Starr crossed the goal line to give Green Bay a 21-17 victory.
“I see the quarterback sneak in TV replays all the time but it isn’t a strong memory,” Pugh said. “Maybe I’ve blocked it out of my mind. I had a tough time with it for about a year. Something like that can create doubt in your mind. But I had a good season in ’68 and decided to look to the future.
“What I remember most from that game were our two touchdowns. One showed the Cowboys’ defense at its best: Andrie grabbing Starr’s fumble on the Green Bay seven-yard line and scoring after Willie Townes (the other end) blasted the ball loose. The other showed the Cowboys’ offense at its best: Dan Reeves’ touchdown pass to wide receiver Lance Rentzel. That was the only finesse play of the game. In normal conditions, I’m sure our offense would have had more.”
Coincidentally, Sunday will mark the first time the Cowboys and Packers meet at Lambeau Field in a playoff game since the historic “Ice Bowl.”