This week’s Legend of the Star is the longtime, outstanding Cowboys safety, Mel Renfro. Mel Renfro was an All-American running back at the University of Oregon, where he not only set many team and college records, but was eventually enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame.
In 1964, Renfro was drafted by the Cowboys in the second round of the NFL Draft. However, the Cowboys immediately started him at safety that season rather than at running back and used him extensively on special teams. Although the move baffled many, he ended up leading the Cowboys with seven interceptions, while leading the NFL in kickoff and punt returns in his rookie season.
Although he spent his first few years as a safety, it wasn’t until he was switched to cornerback that his career would skyrocket. Renfro used his speed to intimidate opposing wide receivers and was absolutely dominating in the secondary. He was selected to the Pro Bowl for 10 straight seasons. In his 14-season career, Renfro intercepted 52 passes that he returned for 626 yards. He returned 109 punts for 842 yards and 85 kickoffs for 2,246 yards and a sparkling 26.4-yard average, and led the NFL with 10 interceptions in 1969. Renfro always knew how to turn it up in big games too, and one of his most memorable plays was a key interception that led to the Cowboys’ game-winning touchdown over the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Title game in 1970. He helped the Cowboys win nine division titles, four NFC Championships, and Super Bowls, VI and XII.
Mel Renfro was added to the Texas Stadium Ring of Honor in 1981, and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1996.