The Dallas Cowboys have four players from the 1960s in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but their fans insist they should have more.
So they push linebacker Chuck Howley. And running back Dan Reeves ... linebacker Lee Roy Jordan ... and offensive lineman Ralph Neely. There are even some behind a Don Perkins campaign.
But almost no one mention defensive end George Andrie. And that’s a mistake. Along with Hall-of-Famer Bob Lilly, Andrie was a pillar of the famed “Doomsday Defense” that took Dallas to the 1966 and ’67 NFL championship games and Super Bowls V and VI.
A sixth-round draft pick in 1962, he began his career as a left defensive end but switched to the right side in 1964. Overshadowed by Hall-of-Fame defensive tackle Bob Lilly, Andrie nevertheless became one of the greatest defensive players in Cowboys’ history and one of the top defensive ends of his era.
At 6-feet-6 and 250 pounds, he had the size and strength to play the run and the speed to collapse the pocket. He was a four-time All-Pro and five-time Pro Bowler who led the Cowboys in sacks from 1964 through 1967, including a team-high 18-1/2 in 1966.
If that sounds like a lot, it’s because it was. Andrie accomplished it in a 14-game season, and his total – unofficial, of course (sacks weren’t recognized as an official NFL statistic until 1982) – not only led the league; it broke a three-year hold by Rams’ Hall-of-Famer Deacon Jones.
According to the Cowboys’ statistics, Andrie accumulated 97 sacks in his career and had a string of eight consecutive games with one, the fourth longest streak in franchise history. He also had a string of 112 consecutive starts, missing only two games in his 11-year career because of a dislocated elbow in 1963.
"He was a poor man's Doug Atkins," said NFL historian John Turney of Pro Football Journal. "Tall, long arms, could take on blocks and run well."
Hall-of-Fame voters constantly talk about Canton candidates saving their biggest moments for their biggest games, and Andrie passes the test. In the frigid 1967 championship game, otherwise known as “The Ice Bowl,” he returned a Bart Starr fumble for a touchdown with the Cowboys trailing 14-0.
Dallas would lose, 21-17, on Starr’s 1-yard sneak in the closing seconds, but don’t blame Andrie. The Cowboys sacked him eight times that afternoon, with two-and-half credited to Andrie. He also scored six of their 17 points.
In Super Bowl V, a game marred by penalties and turnovers, he sidelined Baltimore quarterback John Unitas with a shoulder tackle in the second quarter. Then, a year later, he intercepted San Francisco’s John Brodie in the NFC championship game, returning the ball to the 49ers’ 2-yard line to set up a game-winning Calvin Hill TD.
“George was one of my greatest finds,” said former Dallas personnel director and Hall-of-Fame inductee Gil Brandt.
After retiring, he was among a group of former players to sue the NFL, claiming that the league knew that repeated blows to the head could cause encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease. Experts have linked CTE to dementia, among other conditions.
Andrie died in August, 2018, from what his family said was dementia. He was 78.
George Andrie was never a Hall-of-Fame finalist or a Hall-of-Fame semifinalist. He isn’t among the 22 members of the Dallas Ring of Honor, either, and there’s something wrong there. He was part of a legendary defense that drove the Cowboys to championship games and made them "America's Team," yet he hasn’t been recognized by Canton or the Cowboys for his accomplishments.
By now, you’d think someone would make that happen. But you’d be wrong. George Andrie deserves better.