Don Smerek, Former Dallas Cowboys Defensive Lineman, Passes Away at 66

Don Smerek Dead
Don Smerek Dead

Don Smerek, a football legend, has passed away. The legendary Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman, famed for his ferocity on the field and unbreakable spirit away from it, died at the age of 66. Let’s look at the life and legacy of this gridiron warrior.

Don Smerek Dead

Don Smerek, a former Dallas Cowboys defensive star, died last week after a battle with cancer. He was 66. Smerek attended Nevada College and played football there. After going undrafted, Smerek signed with the Cowboys in 1981.

The defensive lineman spent seven seasons with the team, appearing in 69 games. He concluded his Dallas career with 14.5 sacks.

He was a great teammate, a great person,” Pro Football Hall of Famer and former Cowboys star Randy White said. “He was a terrific football player, and I could always count on him. He’d come in on third downs and pressure the passer, and Don was a complete football player.”

White also mentioned how he would frequently go fishing with Smerek. “He was an excellent football teammate, and we became great friends off the field. He used to be my fishing buddy, and we used to go fishing and do all of the other activities.”

Don Smerek Dead

Smerek is a Nevada native who migrated to Texas after retiring from the NFL. Smerek’s sister, Debbie Nye, described her brother as having a “magnetic personality.”

His teammates are lifelong friends, even going back to high school, college, and the NFL,” Nye told The Dallas Morning News. “All of those people are still by his side. He was a larger-than-life figure with a tremendously magnetic charisma.

The family plans to remember Smerek’s life with a private memorial service later this month in Henderson, Nevada. There are many nieces and nephews left behind in addition to Smerek’s wife Tandi, three brothers, and a sister.

 A Gritty Journey

Don Smerek’s adventure began at the University of Nevada, where he played college football. As an NCAA Division II athlete, he played a vital role in the team’s unprecedented undefeated season during his senior year. His All-Big Sky awards reflected his athletic ability.

Despite being undrafted in the 1980 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys saw Smerek’s potential. They signed him as an undrafted free agent, launching his eight-year stint with America’s Team. Smerek’s versatility enabled him to play defensive tackle and defensive end, filling in when injuries or retirements left holes in the lineup.

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