John Dutton (defensive lineman)

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John Dutton
No. 78
Position: Defensive end / Defensive tackle
Personal information
Date of birth: (1951-02-06) February 6, 1951 (age 64)
Place of birth: Rapid City, South Dakota
Height: 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)
Weight: 266 lb (121 kg)
Career information
High school: Central (SD)
College: Nebraska
NFL draft: 1974 / Round: 1 / Pick: 5
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Games played: 185
Stats at
Stats at

John Owen Dutton (born February 6, 1951) is a former professional football defensive lineman in the National Football League with the Baltimore Colts and Dallas Cowboys. He played college football for the University of Nebraska.

Early years[edit]

Dutton began his high school career at Cathedral High School, where his football team was undefeated in his junior year. After the school closed in the fall of 1968, he transferred to Central High School in Rapid City, where he led the Cobblers to the state Class A basketball title in his senior year (1969).

He was a two-time All-state selection in basketball and football. He received high school All-American recognition in both sports as a senior and was also an accomplished Discus thrower. He was inducted into the South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame.

College career[edit]

Although he received more scholarship offers for basketball, he signed with Nebraska to play college football for head coach Bob Devaney.

In 1971, as an alternate starter, he was part of the 1971 national championship team. Dutton participated in the 1971 Nebraska-Oklahoma game, also called the "Game of the Century", generally considered as one of the greatest college football games ever played.[1] The next year he was named the starter at defensive end, registering 67 tackles (second on the team).

As a senior in 1973 under new head coach Tom Osborne, he earned All-America and All-Big 8 honors, finishing fourth on the team with 63 tackles. In the 1974 Cotton Bowl in Dallas against the University of Texas Longhorns, Dutton and the Blackshirts held the Longhorns to one field goal and 196 total yards. It was the Huskers' fifth bowl victory in as many seasons.

In 1981, he was inducted into the University of Nebraska Athletics Hall of Fame.

Professional career[edit]

Baltimore Colts[edit]

Dutton was selected by the Baltimore Colts in the first round (5th overall) of the 1974 NFL Draft. The 6-foot-7, 266-pound defensive end was ahead of his time and became an immediate starter at right defensive end, receiving NFL all-rookie honors at the end of the season.[2]

In 1975, as a member of the "Sack Pack",[3] he led the Colts in sacks with a career-high 17 and was named to the first of three straight Pro Bowls 197577, becoming one of the most dominant defensive lineman in the NFL.

Dallas Cowboys[edit]

On October 9, 1979, a contract dispute forced the Colts to trade him to the Dallas Cowboys. Because of the retirement of Jethro Pugh and the desire of Ed "Too Tall" Jones to become a professional boxer, the Cowboys traded the first (#24-Derrick Hatchett) and second round pick (#51-Tim J. Foley) in the 1980 NFL Draft.[4]

When Jones returned in 1980, Dutton moved to left defensive tackle alongside Randy White, establishing a formidable defensive line that also included Harvey Martin.[5] He was part of the 1985 defensive unit that holds the Cowboys' single-season sack record (62). He was released on November 13, 1987.[6]

During his 9 years in Dallas, he helped the Cowboys reach the NFC title game three straight years (1980, 1981 and 1982). He may have been the best Cowboys defensive lineman to have never won a Super Bowl ring.[7]

Dutton retired in 1987, after 14 seasons and 185 games in the NFL. He recorded only 18 official sacks, because the NFL didn't recognize quarterback sacks as an official statistic until 1982.

Personal life[edit]

After his career in the NFL, former Husker Dutton retired to Lincoln, Nebraska. He became involved in businesses and for a short time owned and operated Dutton's Den, an off-sale liquor store and restaurant. He also founded a signs company.[8]


External links[edit]