|Born:||November 12, 1948|
|Height:||6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)|
|Weight:||188 lb (85 kg)|
|High school:||Des Arc (AR)|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics|
|Player stats at NFL.com · PFR|
Clifford Allen Harris (born November 12, 1948) is an American former professional football player who was a safety for the Dallas Cowboys of the National Football League (NFL) for ten seasons. A Pro Football Hall of Famer, he appeared in five Super Bowls and was selected to six consecutive Pro Bowls. Harris retired from football at 31 to focus on his work within the oil business.
Born in Fayetteville, Arkansas, Harris started his football career as a backup quarterback at Hot Springs High School, but moved to Des Arc High School for his senior season.
Harris was only offered a scholarship to Ouachita Baptist University (OBU) in Arkadelphia, after his father's roommate at Ouachita convinced head coach Buddy Benson to do it. Harris' father, O.J "Buddy" Harris, also played football for OBU. In college, Cliff became an accomplished defensive back. He played all of the secondary positions and was a quality kick returner. He was named to two All-Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference (AIC) teams and was part of the 1966 AIC Football Championship team during his freshman season.Harris was part of the track and field team and graduated with a double major in math and physics.
In addition to the Pro Football Hall of Fame (2020), Harris has been inducted into numerous other athletic halls of fame, including the Texas Sports Hall of Fame (2015), the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame (1985), the NAIA Hall of Fame (1978) and the Ouachita Athletics Hall of Fame (2003).
Harris was not chosen in the 1970 NFL draft, but the Cowboys invited him to training camp and he signed as a free agent. He beat out Cowboys third-round draft choice Charlie Waters (who did not crack the starting lineup until the retirement of Cornell Green following the 1974 season) for the starting free safety position his rookie year. Military service caused him to miss the second half of the season,although he returned in time for the Cowboys' victory in Super Bowl VI over the Miami Dolphins and never relinquished the position after 1971.
He eventually teamed up with Waters to form the top safety duo in the NFL in the 1970s.Harris made it a point to wear the pads of placekickers in order to keep his speed and quickness up.
Harris was nicknamed "Captain Crash" by his teammates for his punishing hits and reckless pursuit of ball carriers and was also described as a "rolling ball of butcher knives" by hall of fame head coach George Allen.Pro Football Hall of Fame safety Larry Wilson said of Harris, "I feel Harris is the finest free safety in the business today. He changed the way the position is being played. You see other teams modeling their free safeties around the way Harris plays the pass, and striking fear in everyone on the field because he hits so hard.". The Cowboys' defense ranked in the top 10 every year with him in the lineup.
He is one of only 13 players in NFL history to play in five Super Bowls, was chosen for the Pro Bowl six consecutive times and was voted All-Pro four times. The Cowboys were surprised when Harris announced his retirement in March 1980 at the age of 31 to concentrate on his oil business ventures.Sports Illustrated writers named him their Football Dream Team free safety. In 2004, he was a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame and was added to the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor. He was also selected to the National Football League 1970s All-Decade Team and the Cowboys Silver Season All-Time Team in 1984. In 2011, the Professional Football Researchers Association named Harris to the PRFA Hall of Very Good Class of 2011
Harris finished his ten NFL seasons with 29 interceptions, which he returned for 281 yards and one touchdown, and 16 fumble recoveries, which he returned for 91 yards. He also was used in special teams during the first half of his career, gaining 418 yards on punt returns and 1,622 yards returning kickoffs.
On January 15, 2020, Harris was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2020.
The Cliff Harris Award is presented to the top defensive player in the country representing Division II, III and NAIA colleges and universities. The Selection Committee includes Roger Staubach, Lee Roy Jordan, Walt Garrison, Gene Stallings, Jackie Smith, Drew Pearson, Rayfield Wright, Everson Walls, Charlie Waters, Bill Bates, Gil Brandt, Mel Renfro, Jim Hart and Harris himself.
The inaugural winner of the Cliff Harris Award in 2013 was defensive back Pierre Desir from Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri. Desir was featured in ESPN's Draft Academy and was selected in the fourth round by the Cleveland Browns. Receiving the 2014 award was Darius Allen, a senior defensive end from Colorado State University-Pueblo who helped the Thunderwolves to their first-ever NCAA Division II national championship. The 2015 recipient was Marquis Christian, a former safety at Midwestern State University. The recipient of the award in 2016 was Conner Harris, senior linebacker at Lindenwood University and the top tackler in the history of college football.
In 2014, OBU honored Harris by naming its new football stadium "Cliff Harris Stadium." The stadium, decked in the school's purple and gold colors, greets visitors approaching the OBU campus and includes more than 500 reserved and premium reserved seats as part of its total seating capacity. Ouachita football, whose mascot is the Tiger, has a rich tradition dating back to 1895 and competes in the Great American Conference in NCAA Division II.
Harris lives in Rockwall, Texaswith his wife Karen and six children, three daughters and three sons. Cliff Harris is the author of Captain Crash and the Dallas Cowboys: From Sideline to Goal Line With Cliff Harris, first published in 2006 and re-released in September 2014. He and teammate Charlie Waters co-authored a book about their Cowboy memories called Tales From the Dallas Cowboys. Outside football, he works in the energy business.
Super Bowl X was an American football game between the National Football Conference (NFC) champion Dallas Cowboys and the American Football Conference (AFC) champion Pittsburgh Steelers to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion for the 1975 season. The Steelers defeated the Cowboys by the score of 21–17 to win their second consecutive Super Bowl. They were the third team to win back-to-back Super Bowls. It was also the first Super Bowl in which both participating teams had previously won a Super Bowl, as the Steelers were the defending champions and the Cowboys had won Super Bowl VI.
Super Bowl XII was an American football game between the National Football Conference (NFC) champion Dallas Cowboys and the American Football Conference (AFC) champion Denver Broncos to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion for the 1977 season. The Cowboys defeated the Broncos 27–10 to win their second Super Bowl. The game was played on January 15, 1978, at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans. This was the first Super Bowl in a domed stadium, and the first time that the game was played in prime time in the Eastern United States.
Super Bowl XIII was an American football game between the American Football Conference (AFC) champion Pittsburgh Steelers and the National Football Conference (NFC) champion Dallas Cowboys to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion for the 1978 season. The Steelers defeated the Cowboys by the score of 35–31. The game was played on January 21, 1979, at the Orange Bowl in Miami, the fifth and last time that the Super Bowl was played in that stadium.
Ouachita Baptist University (OBU) is a private, Baptist university in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. The university's name is taken from the Ouachita River, which forms the eastern campus boundary. It is affiliated with the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.
James William Johnson is a former American football coach and sports analyst. Johnson served as a head football coach on the collegiate level from 1979 to 1988 and in the National Football League (NFL) for nine seasons. He is the first head football coach to win both a college football national championship and a Super Bowl, achieving the former with Miami and the latter with the Dallas Cowboys.
Melvin Lacy Renfro is a former American football player, a cornerback who spent his entire 14-year career in the National Football League (NFL) with the Dallas Cowboys. He is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Charles Lewis Haley is a former American football linebacker and defensive end who played in the National Football League (NFL) for the San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys (1992–1996).
Larry Rayfield Wright is an American former professional football player who was an offensive tackle for the Dallas Cowboys of the National Football League (NFL) for 13 seasons. He is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, having been inducted in 2006.
Dennis Lee Thurman is an American football coach and former cornerback. He is currently the Defensive coordinator on Deion Sanders' inaugural staff at Jackson State University. He is a former coach in the National Football League for the Phoenix Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets, and in the Alliance of American Football for the Memphis Express. He played for the Dallas Cowboys and St. Louis Cardinals. He played college football at the University of Southern California.
Cornell M. Green, is a former American football player, a defensive back for thirteen seasons in the National Football League with the Dallas Cowboys. He did not play college football at Utah State University, but was a two-time All-American basketball player for the Aggies, selected in 1962 NBA draft, but not in the NFL draft.
The 1970 National Football League Draft was the 35th National Football League Draft and the first of the league's modern era, following the merger of the National Football League with the American Football League. It was held on January 27–28, 1970, at the Belmont Plaza Hotel in New York City, New York.
Charlie Tutan Waters is a former American football player, a safety in the National Football League for twelve seasons, all with the Dallas Cowboys. He played college football at Clemson University.
Eddie Doyle Meador is a former professional American football defensive back for the Los Angeles Rams from 1959 to 1970.
Benny Jewell Barnes is a former American football cornerback in the National Football League for eleven seasons, all with the Dallas Cowboys. He played college football at Stanford University in the Pacific-8 Conference.
Jerry Ray Norton was a professional American football safety and punter in the National Football League for the Philadelphia Eagles, Chicago Cardinals/St. Louis Cardinals, Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers. He was selected to five Pro Bowls. He played college football at Southern Methodist University.
The 1971 Dallas Cowboys season was the franchise's 12th season in the National Football League, the first at the new Texas Stadium in suburban Irving, Texas and the 12th season under head coach Tom Landry. The Cowboys led the NFL with 406 points scored. Their defense allowed 222 points.
The 1978 Dallas Cowboys season was their 19th in the NFL. For the third consecutive season, the Cowboys finished in first place in the NFC East. The Cowboys scored 384 points, which ranked first in the league, while the defense only gave up 208 points, 3rd best in the league. Twice, the Cowboys appeared on Monday Night Football.
The Doomsday Defense was the defense of the Dallas Cowboys American football team during the dynasty years of the late 1960s - 1970s. This defense was the backbone of the Cowboys' dynasty, which won two Super Bowls and played in three more.
The Cowboys–Steelers rivalry is a rivalry in the NFL. The Cowboys currently lead the all-time series 17–16. The two teams met in the Super Bowl three times. They play in different conferences, they only meet once every four regular seasons and occasionally in the preseason.
Pierre Desir is a Haitian American football cornerback for the Seattle Seahawks of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at Lindenwood and Washburn, and was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft. He has also played for the San Diego Chargers, Indianapolis Colts, New York Jets, and Baltimore Ravens.