Drew Pearson set the bar for NFL wide receivers in the 1970s.
Four decades later, he’s still setting the bar for his peers.
As a player, Pearson went to three Pro Bowls and was Roger Staubach’s go-to guy on three Super Bowl teams. He led the NFC in receptions in 1976 and was voted a first-team all-decade wide receiver.
Now an ambassador for both the Cowboys and his sport, Pearson threw down the gauntlet at the 2017 NFL draft and expects his fellow football legends to respond.
Pearson injected some surprising fire into the announcement of draft picks when summoned to the stage to make the second-round selection of the Cowboys in Philadelphia last April. He spent 65 seconds taunting the Cowboys-hating Philadelphia crowd, thumping the chest of the five-time Super Bowl champion Cowboys, their Hall of Fame owner Jerry Jones and “all the Cowboy players that played before me, that played with me and that played after me” before announcing the pick of Chidobe Awuzie.
Pearson was greeted with boos as he walked onto the stage and the volume dialed up with every word he spoke. He introduced swagger to the proceedings – and the Philadelphia crowd sizzled with a rage hitting thunderous proportions.
Now it the Eagles’ turn. They are the Super Bowl champions – and the draft-day stage this week will be at AT&T Stadium, the home of the Cowboys.
“I not only expect the Philadelphia guy to come and bring it – I’ve got a feeling that every team now is going to come out there and try to do it,” Pearson said. “The landscape of the presentation and the announcement has changed. No more going out there, reading the card, saying the name and going back. Everybody is going to take advantage of that opportunity and bring it, trying to represent their team as best they can.”
The Eagles do not have a second-round pick but will be represented in the third round by wide receiver Harold Carmichael and kicker David Akers. Like Pearson, Carmichael was an all-decade receiver in the 1970s. Pearson would have expected five-time Pro Bowl linebacker Bill Bergey.
“He was pretty fiery,” Pearson recalled. “I remember one time I caught a bubble screen and came inside and he tackled around the neck and ripped my helmet off. My Afro went flying. He’d have been good.”
Among those chosen by their former teams to announce draft selections are Hall of Famers Jim Brown (Cleveland), Jerry Kramer (Green Bay), Willie Lanier (Kansas City), Bob Lilly (Dallas), Mike Singletary (Chicago), LaDainian Tomlinson (LA Chargers) and Rod Woodson (Pittsburgh).
That draft-day presentation changed Pearson’s life. He used to be the guy know for catching the Hail Mary. Not any more. The football feats of his 20s now pale in comparison to his spoken words as a 66-year-old. Rarely has a day gone by since then that his performance in Philadelphia has not come up in conversation.
“There might have been a day go by,” Pearson said, “but not consecutive days.”
Pearson added another chapter to his football life 34 years after closing the book on his career. The NFL draft, much to the delight of the television networks, is about to become showtime.
“I take a lot of pride in that,” Pearson said. “I take a lot of pride in the fact it’s a Cowboy who did it. We’ve always been trend-setters in the business. So why not with the draft as well? To be able to still benefit from being a Dallas Cowboys is the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”