Burton Lawless

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Burton Lawless
No. 66
Position: Guard
Personal information
Born: (1953-11-01) November 1, 1953 (age 64)
Dothan, Alabama
Height: 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)
Weight: 253 lb (115 kg)
Career information
High school: Punta Gorda (FL) Charlotte
College: Florida
NFL Draft: 1975 / Round: 2 / Pick: 44
Career history
 * Offseason and/or practice squad member only
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Games played: 82
Games started: 23
Player stats at NFL.com
Player stats at PFR

Richard Burton Lawless (born November 1, 1953) is an American former football offensive guard in the National Football League (NFL) for the Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions. He played college football at the University of Florida, and earned All-American honors. He was drafted in the second round of the 1975 NFL Draft.

Early years[edit]

Lawless was born in Dothan, Alabama in 1953, before his family moved to Florida. He attended Charlotte High School in Punta Gorda, Florida,[1] where he first drew recognition as an all-state tight end for the Charlotte Fighting Tarpons high school football team.[2]

In 2007, thirty-six years after he graduated from high school, the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) recognized Lawless as one of the "100 Greatest Players of the First 100 Years" of Florida high school football.[2] In 2001, he was inducted into the Charlotte High School Hall of Fame.

College career[edit]

Lawless accepted an athletic scholarship to attend the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, where he played for coach Doug Dickey's Florida Gators football team from 1971 to 1974.[3] As a freshman, he broke his shoulder on his first practice and was moved to offensive tackle when he returned to the team, and eventually to offensive guard, where he arguably became the best pulling guard in Gators history.[4]

He was a three-year starter, a second-team All-Southeastern conference (SEC) selection in 1973 and 1974, and a first-team All-American during his senior season in 1974.[3] He also played in the 1975 Chicago College All-Star Game.[4]

Lawless returned to the university during the NFL off-season to finish his bachelor's degree in exercise and sport sciences in 1977, and he was inducted into the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame as a "Gator Great" in 1978.[5][6] In one of a series of articles published by The Gainesville Sun in 2006, he was recognized as one of the top 100 Gators (No. 42) of the first 100 years of Florida football.[4]

Professional career[edit]

Lawless was selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the second round (forty-fourth pick overall) of the 1975 NFL Draft, also known as the Dirty Dozen draft.[7] Mitch Hoopes and him were the only rookies to earn starting jobs, with Lawless replacing the traded John Niland at left guard and becoming the first team rookie to start in the offensive line (including Super Bowl X) since 1965.[8] At the end of the 1975 season, he was named to the NFL All-Rookie team.[9]

In 1976, the improved play of Herbert Scott forced him into a platoon role. In 1977, he was moved to right guard but lost the starting job to Tom Rafferty. Injuries to Scott and John Fitzgerald allowed him to start 6 games (4 at left guard and 2 at right guard).

The next year, he was back to serving as a messenger guard, alternating mainly with Rafferty. Ater requesting to be traded, he retired in 1980 during training camp and was subsequently traded to the Miami Dolphins for a draft choice (not exercised) on August 19. During his time with the Cowboys, he was a part of three Super Bowl teams, winning Super Bowl XII.

The Miami Dolphins released him on September 1st, 1980. On October 23, he signed as a free agent with the Detroit Lions, where he played in nine games. He was released on August 31, 1981. On November 17, he was signed by the Miami Dolphins to be a backup behind Bob Kuechenberg for the last five games of the 1981 season.

In April 1982, Lawless signed a contract with the Chicago Bears. In May, during the off-season, a 12-foot, 5,000-pound plow-arm fell on his head and neck, causing him to be paralyzed from the neck down for 17 days and ending his professional career.[10]

During his seven-season NFL career, Lawless played in eighty-two games, and started in twenty-three of them.

Personal life[edit]

Lawless attended the Cowboys alumni reunion and closing ceremony at Texas Stadium in Dallas on December 20, 2008.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ databaseFootball.com, Players, Burton Lawless Archived 2010-02-18 at the Wayback Machine.. Retrieved July 8, 2010.
  2. ^ a b "FHSAA unveils '100 Greatest Players of First 100 Years' as part of centennial football celebration". Florida High School Athletic Association. December 4, 2007. Retrieved July 11, 2017. 
  3. ^ a b 2011 Florida Gators Football Media Guide Archived April 2, 2012, at the Wayback Machine., University Athletic Association, Gainesville, Florida, pp. 87, 91, 96, 183 (2011). Retrieved August 30, 2011.
  4. ^ a b c Robbie Andreu & Pat Dooley (July 23, 2006). "No. 42 Burton Lawless". The Gainesville Sun. Retrieved July 11, 2017. 
  5. ^ "Gator Greats". F Club, Hall of Fame. Retrieved July 11, 2017. 
  6. ^ "Bean And Koch Inducted". The Ledger. March 30, 1978. p. 1D. Retrieved July 11, 2017. 
  7. ^ "Youth is served on Cowboys but in very limited portions". The Miami News. January 15, 1976. p. 1C. 
  8. ^ Jack Gurney (September 28, 1975). "Ex-Gator Burton Lawless Shocked At Starting Post". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. p. 8D. Retrieved July 11, 2017. 
  9. ^ "Solomon, Lawless on All-Rookie team". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. December 12, 1975. p. 1D & 3D. Retrieved July 11, 2017. 
  10. ^ Michael Henry (January 11, 1984). "Miraculous: From glory to near death, Burton Lawless says 'life has been great". The Evening Independent. p. 1-C. Retrieved July 11, 2017. 
  11. ^ "Farewell to Texas Stadium". knowyourdallascowboys.com. December 22, 2008. Retrieved July 11, 2017. 


  • Carlson, Norm, University of Florida Football Vault: The History of the Florida Gators, Whitman Publishing, LLC, Atlanta, Georgia (2007). ISBN 978-0-7948-2298-9.
  • Golenbock, Peter, Go Gators! An Oral History of Florida's Pursuit of Gridiron Glory, Legends Publishing, LLC, St. Petersburg, Florida (2002). ISBN 978-0-9650782-1-4.
  • Hairston, Jack, Tales from the Gator Swamp: A Collection of the Greatest Gator Stories Ever Told, Sports Publishing, LLC, Champaign, Illinois (2002). ISBN 978-1-58261-514-1.
  • McCarthy, Kevin M., Fightin' Gators: A History of University of Florida Football, Arcadia Publishing, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina (2000). ISBN 978-0-7385-0559-6.
  • McEwen, Tom, The Gators: A Story of Florida Football, The Strode Publishers, Huntsville, Alabama (1974). ISBN 978-0-87397-025-9.
  • Nash, Noel, ed., The Gainesville Sun Presents The Greatest Moments in Florida Gators Football, Sports Publishing, Inc., Champaign, Illinois (1998). ISBN 978-1-57167-196-7.

External links[edit]