1975 Dallas Cowboys Player Rankings: #15 D.D. Lewis
Jerry Tubbs called him the best linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys in 1974 but, as of the following spring, D.D. Lewis was not even a member of the team. While the 29-year old was busy sifting through the legal details of his new contract with Memphis of the World Football League, the Cowboys were pondering the possibilities of 36-year old safety Cornell Green filling his former role as the starting weak-side linebacker.
But as the time drew near for Lewis to go join his new team, rumors started flying about the league possibly folding. That was the end of his flirtation with the WFL and the beginning of his return to Dallas.
“I had already been talking with my lawyers about how to break the contract,” recalled Lewis. “We were waiting for the right time to approach them, but they contacted us first. Two weeks before training camp they called and said they wanted to trade me and running back to Philadelphia, but fortunately, I had a no-trade clause in my contract.
“What they needed to do was to get rid of some players in order to be able to pay for [Larry] Csonka, [Jim] Kiick, and [Paul] Warfield. If I went to Philadelphia they were going to have to pay me my salary plus my bonus, or they would pay me my bonus just to break the contract. So actually, I got a bonus for not playing, and then I signed immediately with Dallas.”
The Cowboys welcomed Lewis back with open arms, giving him a new contract and his old starting job back. Of course, he did have to share a room with Clint Longley during camp, but that was one of the unspoken penalties for doing business with the WFL.
A sixth-round draft selection by Dallas in the sixth round of the 1968 draft, Lewis was still a versatile player at this point of his career. Able to play all three linebacker positions on the Cowboys’ base defense in a pinch, Lewis also was used on the 4-0 package, when only one linebacker was on the field.
Against the Lions in Week 3, Lewis’ participation was highlighted by two sacks of Detroit quarterback Greg Landry in the Cowboys’ 36-10 victory. And in Week 13 versus Washington at Texas Stadium, Lewis aided the Cowboys’ efforts in a must-win game by teaming up with Ed “Too Tall” Jones to knock Redskins quarterback Billy Kilmer from the action, allowing Dallas to run away with a 31-10 playoff-clinching triumph.
But his greatest performance of the 1975 campaign came in the NFC Championship Game when he hijacked the heavily-favored Rams with a pair of interceptions. Lewis’ first theft came early in the first quarter of a scoreless game and was provoked by the ominous backfield presence of Harvey Martin. With Martin in the face of James Harris, the Los Angeles quarterback threw short and wide of his mark, directly into the arms of Lewis, who then authored a short return to the Rams 24-yard line. Moments later, the Cowboys were leading 7-0. And later in the fourth quarter, Lewis was in the right place at the right time to snare a deflected pass to seal the Cowboys’ 37-7 victory.
Two weeks later, with the Cowboys locked in a tough defensive struggle with Pittsburgh in Super Bowl X, a blitzing Lewis broke through the line to get a hand on Terry Bradshaw. But when he failed to bring the Steelers quarterback to the ground, Bradshaw was afforded enough time to unleash a touchdown bomb to Lynn Swann that proved to be the difference.