The Walter Camp Man of the Year
The Walter Camp “Alumni of the Year” award is bestowed on a worthy individual who has distinguished himself in the pursuit of excellence as an athlete, in his personal career and in doing good works for others. He must be an individual who has exhibited dedication and good moral conduct in achieving success. He must be a compassionate and unselfish person who contributes his time and assistance in helping to encourage and comfort fellow human beings less talented and less fortunate than himself. He must be an individual who takes pride in having been a Walter Camp All-American.
Drew Pearson is the recipient of the Walter Camp Football Foundation’s 2021 “Man of the Year” award.
Undrafted out of the University of Tulsa, Drew Pearson made the Dallas roster as a free agent in 1973 because he could contribute on the Cowboys’ special teams. By the time his career ended 11 seasons and 156 regular-season games later, he had left his mark as the franchise’s all-time leader in most receiving categories and established himself as one of the National Football League’s best clutch performers.
Pearson’s big opportunity came midway through his rookie season when a teammate got injured. Starting six games, he finished with 22 receptions for 388 yards and two touchdowns. He added two TD catches in a postseason win over the Los Angeles Rams.
Quickly becoming the team’s main receiving threat, Pearson led the Cowboys with 62 catches for 1,087 yards in 1974 — the first of four consecutive seasons leading the team in both categories.
Pearson’s 870 receiving yards in his All-Pro season in 1977 led the NFL. He followed that regular season with seven catches for 113 yards in the postseason as the Cowboys won Super Bowl XII, one of his three Super Bowl appearances.
At the time of his retirement, Pearson was the Cowboys’ all-time leader for receptions (489) and receiving yards (7,822). He caught 48 touchdown passes. He was an All-Pro three times, a three-time Pro Bowl selection and a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1970s.
Statistics alone don’t tell his story, however. It’s the big plays and when he made them that live in NFL lore. Pearson totaled 68 receptions for 1,131 yards (16.6 average) in 22 postseason games. He scored eight times, perhaps no touchdown more memorable than the 50-yard “Hail Mary” throw from Roger Staubach that beat the Minnesota Vikings in the waning seconds of their 1975 divisional playoff game, helping the Cowboys reach Super Bowl X.
Pearson was on the receiving end of three game-deciding plays that NFL Films put on one of its “Top 75 Plays in NFL History” lists, and he also delivered a key block on a fourth play: Tony Dorsett’s NFL record 99-yard TD run.
He was the team’s nominee for the NFL Man of the Year Award in 1980 and was voted into the Dallas Cowboys’ Ring of Honor in 2011.
Career details sourced from www.profootballhof.com
Previous winners of The Walter Camp Man of the Year Award
2019 – Curtis Martin, University of Pittsburgh
2018 – Mike Golic, Notre Dame
2017 – Calvin Johnson, Georgia Tech
2016 – Warrick Dunn, Florida State
2015 – Fred Biletnikoff, Florida State; Joe Andruzzi, Southern Connecticut State University
2014 – Jerome Bettis, Notre Dame
2013 – Matt Millen, Penn State
2012 – Herm Edwards, San Diego State
2011 – Harry Carson, South Carolina State
2010 – Will Shields, Nebraska
2009 – John Elway, Stanford
2008 – Morten Andersen, Michigan State
2007– Dick Butkus, University of Illinois
2006 – Mike Utley, Washington State
2005 – Dwight Stephenson, Alabama
2004 – Anthony Munoz, Southern California
2003 – Ozzie Newsome, Alabama
2002 – Jim Kelly, Miami (Fla.)
2001 – Mike Singletary, Baylor
2000 – Howie Long, Villanova
1999 – Gil Brandt, Dallas Cowboys
1998 – Lou Holtz, Kent State University
1997 – Calvin Hill, Yale
1996 – Lynn Swann, Southern California
1995 – Reggie Williams, Dartmouth
1994 – Dick Anderson, Colorado
1993 – Warren Moon, Washington
1992 – Bob Griese, Purdue
1991 – Mel Blount, Southern
1990 – Nick Buoniconti, Notre Dame
1989 – Paul Brown, Miami (Ohio)
1988 – Andy Robustelli, Arnold
1987 – Levi Jackson, Yale
1986 – Willie Davis, Grambling
1985 – Rocky Bleier, Notre Dame
1984 – Don Shula, John Carroll
1983 – Roger Staubach, Navy
1982 – Merlin Olsen, Utah State
1981 – Otto Graham, Northwestern
1980 – Gale Sayers, Kansas
1979 – Jack Kemp, Occidental
1978 – Floyd Little, Syracuse
1977 – Fred Dunlap, Colgate
1976 – Edward Krause, Notre Dame
1975 – Pete Dawkins, Army
1974 – Jake Gaither, Knoxville College/Florida A&M
1973 – Duffy Daugherty, Syracuse/Michigan State
1972 – Clinton Frank, Yale
1971 – Doc Blanchard, Army
1970 – Harry Kipke, Michigan
1969 – Pete Rozelle, San Francisco
1968 – Ted Blair, Yale
1967 – Hamilton Fish, Harvard