Leon Lett “The Big Cat”
When Leon Lett allowed Buffalo Bills wide receiver Don Beebe to strip him of the ball from behind during Dallas’ blowout win in Super Bowl XXVII, he didn’t know that this one play would define his career. But it did. For all of ten months.
Lett’s near-miss of a touchdown in the Super Bowl then took a back seat to another gaffe before yet another national television audience. On Thanksgiving Day in the frozen wonderland which Texas Stadium offered, Lett’s unexpected entrance into the spotlight turned a certain victory into a despicable, laughable defeat that resounds to this day.
With Dallas leading 14-13 and a few ticks remaining on the clock, Miami Dolphins place-kicker Pete Stoyanovich sent his right foot through the ball on a 41-yard field goal attempt only to watch in dismay as a Dallas defender blocked it. Stoyanovich’s horror soon turned to belly-laughing joy when he saw Lett slide into the ball and allow Miami to recover and win the game via a chip-shot on the next play.
Those are the memories of the many of Leon Lett.
What many discount, or simply forget, is that Lett was a good football player and a vital contributor to the Cowboys’ three world championships from 1992-1995. A 6′-6″ 275-lb freak of nature at tackle, Lett could play all four positions along the defensive line. And though he often struggled with injuries and substance abuse, Lett was voted to the NFC Pro Bowl squad twice (1994, 1998) over an eleven-year career which saw him tally 361 tackles and 22.5 sacks. And it should be noted that his forced fumble against the Bills just eight weeks after his Turkey Day mishap allowed safety James Washington to scoop it up and run to paydirt, and was the turning point in a 30-13 Cowboys triumph.