Cowboys tight end Doug Cosbie runs for yardage after catching a pass from Danny White in a 1984 Cowboys-Redskins game at Texas Stadium.
At 6’6″ and 236 pounds with the power to block linemen and linebackers and the speed to threaten defensive backs, former Cowboy tight end Doug Cosbie seemed to be straight out of central casting when he joined the team in 1979. The California native, who turns 62 today, had a strong 10 year career that made him one of the best at his position in Cowboys’ history.
Looking to develop a potential successor to veteran star Billy Joe DuPree, Dallas made Cosbie the 76th pick in the 1979 NFL draft. Cosbie played behind DuPree and veteran Jay Saldi in his rookie year, but earned the praise of head coach Tom Landry heading into his second season. In the 1980 Official Dallas Cowboys Bluebook, Landry was quoted as saying, “Cosbie is an excellent prospect. He has the same dimensions as Billy Joe DuPree. He has excellent blocking techniques, he catches the ball well and he is smart”.
Cosbie began becoming a target of Dallas quarterback Danny White in the 1981 season. He caught five regular season touchdowns, including crucial touchdowns in key mid-season wins over Miami, Philadelphia and Buffalo that helped Dallas regain the NFC East title they had lost to the Eagles in 1980. He also caught a fourth quarter 21 yard touchdown pass from White in the 1981 NFC title game that seemed to have Dallas in route to a NFC championship before the 49ers rallied to win in the game’s final minutes.
By 1982, Cosbie had supplanted DuPree as Dallas’ top tight end. He caught 30 passes for a career high 14. 7 yard per catch and four touchdowns that year before starting a three year span from 1983 through 1985 when the Santa Clara product made the Pro Bowl each season.
Cosbie’s best season from a statistical standpoint was in 1985, when caught 64 passes and scored six touchdowns to help Dallas to an NFC East title. In week two of that season, the lanky receiver set career highs in receptions (11) and yards gained (159) in a 26-21 loss at Detroit. On Thanksgiving Day of that year in a 35-17 route of St. Louis, Cosbie caught five passes for 122 yards and a touchdown to help Dallas earn a crucial divisional win.
Among full-time tight ends, Cosbie’s 30 career touchdown catches ranks behind only Jason Witten’s 68 and DuPree’s 41 in team history. His final scoring play came in a week 15 victory at Los Angeles over the Rams on a 27 pass from Steve Pelluer.
Like many Cowboys’ players before him, Cosbie came into a successful Dallas program as a backup, worked his way into more and more playing time by honing his craft and eventually became a star. He never experienced the ultimate goal of winning a Super Bowl crown, but he was part of six playoff teams in his decade in Dallas. When the roll is called of Cowboys’ greats at the tight end position, it doesn’t take long before Cosbie’s name is mentioned.