Receiver Golden Richards’ most famous catch for the Cowboys came in Super Bowl 12 when he snagged a 29 yard scoring pass from fullback Robert Newhouse to seal the Cowboys’ 27-10 victory over the Denver Broncos.
Great football teams are generally blessed to have great football players. During their glory years in the 1970s, the Cowboys were fortunate to have many stars. One look at the roster of the NFL Hall of Fame or at the Ring of Honor in Texas Stadium will reveal that fact.
Very successful teams also have players who may not be stars but are able to do their part to keep the machine running successfully. Former Cowboy wide receiver Golden Richards, who turns 66 today, was one of those players.
Richards came to the Cowboys in the 1973 NFL Draft, the same draft that saw Billy Joe DuPree and Harvey Martin selected by Dallas. The Hawaii and BYU product’s game featured breakaway speed, and he was groomed to eventually take Bob Hayes’ spot as the Cowboys’ big play receiver. Richards caught only six balls in his rookie season, one of them a 53 yard scoring pass from Craig Morton in a Cowboys’ rout of the St. Louis Cardinals.
Richards joined 1973 free agent pickup Drew Pearson as receivers in the Cowboys’ starting lineup in the 1974 season. He caught three passes for 84 yards, including a 52 yard touchdown, in Dallas’ opening day 24-0 win at Atlanta. Later in the year, Richards caught a pair of long touchdown passes (from 41 and 35 yards) and gained a career high 92 yards on his three receptions in Dallas’ 41-17 victory over Cleveland.
The 1975 Cowboys’ team shocked the NFL by winning the NFC Championship, and Richards played his part in the team’s success. Richards averaged 21.5 yards per catch and had four scoring catches, including a 57 yard catch and run for a score in Dallas’ 31-10 smashing of the Redskins in week 13 that clinched a playoff spot for the Cowboys. He also returned a punt for a score on the year. In the post-season, Richards caught a four yard touchdown pass from Roger Staubach in Dallas’ 37-7 thrashing of the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC title game.
The speedy receiver posted a career best 21.8 yards per catch mark in 1976. His best game of the year came in a week three thriller in which he scored two touchdowns (one on a 31 yard pass from Staubach and another on a 39 yard toss from fellow receiver Pearson) in Dallas’ 30-27 win.
Richards shared the split end spot in Dallas’ lineup with second year man Butch Johnson in the Cowboys’ Super Bowl Championship year of 1977, but was able to make some big plays to help the Cowboys to a title. His acrobatic 17 yard fourth quarter touchdown catch from Staubach provided the winning points in Dallas’ 30-24 win in week four at St. Louis, and he scored on a 50 yard bomb from Staubach in the following game as Dallas drubbed Washington 34-16. He also came up big in the post-season, catching touchdown passes in both the NFC Championship win over Minnesota and in Super Bowl 12 against Denver.
The emergence of Johnson and the selection of Tony Hill in the 1977 draft made Richards expendable, and he was traded to the Chicago Bears. Richards caught one touchdown pass in his two seasons in Chicago, and fittingly it was from long range on a 57 yard strike from Vince Evans in the Bears 24-20 loss to the Cowboys at Texas Stadium in week three of the 1979 season.
Richards 18.3 yards per catch mark is fifth in Cowboys’ history for receivers with at least 100 catches. He is the only Cowboy to score a touchdown on a punt return in the post-season in team history, going all the way on a 63 yard return in Dallas’ 27-10 loss to Minnesota in the 1973 NFC Championship game.
The blonde haired wideout brought style and flash to the Cowboys in his time with the team, and made enough big plays to have earned a solid spot in Cowboys’ lore.