|Position:||Safety / Cornerback|
|Date of birth:||January 9, 1940|
|Place of birth:||Santa Monica, California|
|Date of death:||August 17, 2015(aged 75)|
|Place of death:||Dallas, Texas|
|Height:||6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)|
|Weight:||190 lb (86 kg)|
|High school:||Antelope Valley (CA)|
|* Offseason and/or practice squad member only|
|Career NFL statistics|
|Player stats at PFR|
Michael Theodore "Mike" Gaechter (January 9, 1940 – August 17, 2015) was an American football safety in the National Football League who spent his entire career with the Dallas Cowboys. He played college football at the University of Oregon in Eugene.
Born in Santa Monica, California, Gaechter graduated from Antelope Valley High School in Lancaster, and then enrolled at the University of Oregon. Because of grades, he transferred to Clark College in Vancouver, Washington, where he competed in the long jump, the 100, 200, low and high hurdles, and as a member of the relay team.
In 1961, he earned his reacceptance to the University of Oregon. That year during a track meet at the University of Washington in Seattle, he recorded his fastest time with 9.4 seconds in the 100-yard dash at Husky Stadium. In 1962, Gaechter with teammates Mel Renfro, Jerry Tarr, and Harry Jerome, ran the third leg on the University of Oregon’s world record setting team, in the 4x110 yard relay.
Gaechter was signed by the Dallas Cowboys in 1962 as an undrafted free agent and became the starting left cornerback as a rookie, registering 5 interceptions. In that season, the Cowboys became the first NFL team in history to produce two 100-yard plays in the same game: a 100-yard interception return for a touchdown by Gaechter (a team record) and a 101-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by running back Amos Marsh. His interception return was a franchise record that was broken by Bryan McCann 48 years later in 2010.
Although he had a track background, he was a punishing hitter so he was switched to strong safety in 1963, where he earned the reputation as a feared defensive player in the Cowboys secondary. His late hit in the end zone that upended the Packers' Boyd Dowler after a touchdown reception in the third quarter of the 1966 NFL Championship Game, caused Dowler a shoulder injury and allowed the seldom-used Max McGee to star in Super Bowl I two weeks later.
Gaechter had been a mainstay on the Cowboys defense for most of the 1960s, until rupturing his achilles tendon at the end of the 1969 season, in the third place Playoff Bowl loss to the Los Angeles Rams in January 1970. He never fully recovered, finishing with 8 seasons and 21 interceptions (13th in club history) during his time in Dallas. He also has two of the five longest interception returns in team history (100 yards and 86 yards in 1963 against the Washington Redskins).
In 1970, Cornell Green moved from cornerback to strong safety to replace Gaechter who was placed on the injured reserve list. After sitting out the entire season, he was traded in 1971 to the Washington Redskins for a conditional draft choice on July 20.
In 1972 and 1982, he filed lawsuits against the Dallas Cowboys organization for medical malpractice. After suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, Gaechter died of heart failure at age 75 on August 17, 2015. His wife Cheri donated his brain for research at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, which launched the Texas Institute for Brain Injury and Repair in 2014 and has established ties to the NFL. After his funeral mass at St. Ann's parish in Coppell, Geachter was buried at Restland Memorial Park in Dallas.
- "Mike Gaetcher Hall of Fame bio". Retrieved February 19, 2017.
- "A roundup of the sports information of the week". SI.com. Retrieved August 20, 2015.
- "Ducks Find New Running Halfback". Lewiston, ID: Lewiston Morning Tribune. Associated Press (AP). September 8, 1961. p. 8. Retrieved August 20, 2015.
- "Reed rumbles 108 yards for NFL record". Pro Football Hall of Fame. November 24, 2008. Retrieved June 2, 2014.
- "It Was 1962 . . .". Dallas Cowboys. Retrieved August 20, 2016.
- Video on YouTube
- "Gabriel, Rams blow up Dallas defense, 31-0". Pittsburgh Press. UPI. January 4, 1970. p. 1, section 4.
- "Gabriels' four TD passes save dreary Playoff Bowl". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. Associated Press. January 4, 1970. p. 1, sports.
- "Gaechter traded to Washington". Wilmington Morning Star. North Carolina. UPI. July 21, 1971. p. 4D.
- "Redskins cut Gaechter: Tarkenton, Thomas still on sidelines". Eugene Register-Guard. Oregon. Associated Press. August 12, 1971. p. 3B.
- "AM briefing". Spartanburg Herald. South Carolina. September 9, 1982. p. D3.
- "Jurors find Cowboys didn't hide records". Eugene Register-Guard. Oregon. Associated Press. September 11, 1982. p. 7B.
- "Former Dallas Cowboys: Medical Records Withheld". Miami, FL: The Miami News. September 10, 1982. p. 1C.
- "Mike Gaechter, key defensive back of '60s Dallas Cowboys' rare feat, dies at 75". Dallas Cowboys Blog. Retrieved August 20, 2015.
- Career statistics and player information from NFL.com • Pro-Football-Reference • Databasefootball.com
- Ranking Best Cowboys Safeties In Franchise History
- Top 10 Undrafted Free Agents in Dallas Cowboys History
- Dallas Morning News: obituary - Mike Gaechter
- Mike Gaechter at Find a Grave