|Date of birth:||November 1, 1953|
|Place of birth:||Dothan, Alabama|
|Height:||6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)|
|Weight:||253 lb (115 kg)|
|High school:||Punta Gorda (FL) Charlotte|
|NFL draft:||1975 / Round: 2 / Pick: 44|
|* Offseason and/or practice squad member only|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics|
|Stats at NFL.com|
|Stats at pro-football-reference.com|
Richard Burton Lawless (born November 1, 1953) is an American former college and professional football player who was an offensive lineman in the National Football League (NFL) for six seasons during the 1970s and 1980s. Lawless played college football for the University of Florida, and earned All-American honors. A second-round pick in the 1975 NFL Draft, he played professionally for the Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions of the NFL.
Lawless was born in Dothan, Alabama in 1953, before his family moved to Florida. He attended Charlotte High School in Punta Gorda, Florida, where he first drew recognition as an all-state tight end for the Charlotte Fighting Tarpons high school football team.
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. In 2001, he was inducted into the Charlotte High School Hall of Fame.
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. 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.
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. He also played in the 1975 Chicago College All-Star Game.
Lawless returned to the university during the NFL off-season to finish his bachelor's degree in exercise and sport sciences 1977, and he was inducted into the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame as a "Gator Great" in 1978. In one of a series of articles published by The Gainesville Sun in 2006, he was recognized as one top 100 Gators (No. 42) of the first 100 years of Florida football.
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. Mitch Hoopes and him were the only rookies to earn starting jobs, with Lawless replacing John Niland at left guard and becoming the first team rookie to start in the offensive line (including Super Bowl X) since 1965. At the end of the 1975 season, he was named to the NFL All-Rookie team.
In 1976 the play of Herbert Scott forced him into a platoon role. In 1977 injuries allowed him to regain his starting position, but by the next year, he was back to serving as a messenger guard, alternating mainly with Tom Rafferty. He retired in 1980 during training camp and was subsequently traded to the Miami Dolphins for a draft choice. During his time with the Cowboys, he was a part of three Super Bowl teams, winning Super Bowl XII.
The Miami Dolphins released him during training camp in 1980. After his release, he signed as free agent with the Detroit Lions, where he played in nine games in 1980. Lawless was signed to the Miami Dolphins roster for the last five games of the 1981 season.
Lawless signed a contract with the Chicago Bears for 1982. However, 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.
During his seven-season NFL career, Lawless played in eighty-two games, and started in twenty-three of them.
- 1974 College Football All-America Team
- Florida Gators football, 1970–79
- List of Dallas Cowboys players
- List of Detroit Lions players
- List of Florida Gators football All-Americans
- List of Florida Gators football players in the NFL
- List of University of Florida alumni
- Pro-Football-Reference.com, Players, Burton Lawless. Retrieved July 8, 2010.
- databaseFootball.com, Players, Burton Lawless. Retrieved July 8, 2010.
- "FHSAA unveils '100 Greatest Players of First 100 Years' as part of centennial football celebration," Florida High School Athletic Association (December 4, 2007). Retrieved May 26, 2011.
- 2011 Florida Gators Football Media Guide, University Athletic Association, Gainesville, Florida, pp. 87, 91, 96, 183 (2011). Retrieved August 30, 2011.
- Robbie Andreu & Pat Dooley, "No. 42 Burton Lawless," The Gainesville Sun (July 23, 2006). Retrieved March 29, 2013.
- F Club, Hall of Fame, Gator Greats. Retrieved December 14, 2014.
- "Bean And Koch Inducted," The Ledger, p. 1D (March 30, 1978). Retrieved August 30, 2011.
- National Football League, Historical Players, Burton Lawless. Retrieved July 8, 2010.
- Jack Gurney, "Ex-Gator Burton Lawless Shocked At Starting Post," Sarasota Herald-Tribune, p. 8D (September 28, 1975). Retrieved July 14, 2014.
- "Solomon, Lawless on All-Rookie team," Sarasota Herald-Tribune, pp. 1D & 3D (December 12, 1975). Retrieved July 14, 2014.
- Michael Henry, "Miraculous: From glory to near death, Burton Lawless says 'life has been great'," The Evening Independent, p. 1-C (January 11, 1984). Retrieved March 29, 2013.
- Matt Cordon, "Farewell to Texas Stadium," knowyourdallascowboys.com (December 22, 2008). Retrieved July 8, 2010.
- 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.