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Cowboys Find Pelluer Can Function Without Clipboard and Headset

December 20, 1985|MICKEY SPAGNOLA | Dallas Times Herald

DALLAS — It is now nearly a week since Steve Pelluer came out of the Dallas Cowboys woodwork. Here is what we have learned in such little time:

--That his locker has been sandwiched between Timmy Newsome's and Jesse Penn's.

--That his last name is pronounced Puh-LURE.

--That he enjoys refinishing antique furniture and is working toward a building construction degree at the University of Washington.

--That he is a honest-to-goodness, golly-gee character from Bellevue, Wash., and is pretty much astounded by his own doings.

--That the last time he played a football game of any consequence was the 1984 Hula Bowl, which is nearly two years ago.

--That he can function without a clipboard and headset, which have been the tools of his play-charting trade the past two seasons with the Cowboys.

--And that he smiles a lot. He was still beaming Wednesday at Cowboys Ranch. "Coach Landry told us we had two days to celebrate," Pelluer said. "But I think it's going to take me more than two days to get over this."

Sure, why not? After all, Steve Carl Pelluer just lived out a daydream, one he has whiled away many a Cowboys practices. Walter Mitty would not have even dared.

His afternoon scenario goes something like this: Starting quarterback Danny White gets hurt. Backup quarterback Gary Hogeboom gets hurt. He is the last resort, finally getting his chance to play.

"I just figured my time would come," Pelluer said. "Sooner or later, it would come."

Dreaming about playing is one thing. But making your NFL quarterback debut with the NFC East title on the line, then leading your team to what turns out to be the winning 72-yard touchdown drive is another.

"It couldn't have happened in much grander style," Pelluer said of his Sunday relief role in the Cowboys' NFC East-clinching 28-21 victory over the New York Giants.

It sure couldn't. We're talking about a guy who had never taken an NFL snap from center; a guy who never so much as takes a snap during offensive practice days; a guy who had never even warmed up on the sideline during a regular-season game.

He had played only one play in 30 games: Holding for Rafael Septien's game-winning field goal last year against New Orleans when Hogeboom was hurt. During practice, he runs the opponent's offense during Thursday's defensive session.

"He never gets in our huddle, not with the first unit," wide receiver Mike Renfro said.

So here the Cowboys were Sunday, leading, 21-14, with the ball at their own 13-yard line and 12:23 left in the game. White was out with a bruised left shoulder. Hogeboom was out--almost literally--with a scrambled brain. The Cowboys had no choice.

Go get 'em, Steve.

"He was smiling like a little kid and we were all smiling back," Renfro said of Pelluer's arrival in the huddle. "It was like he was tickled to death to be playing.

"I remember the first play he called, he bellowed it out so loud we told him to quiet down. We were afraid the other team could hear him."

"I thought they couldn't hear me," Pelluer said, smiling through the embarrassment. "Yeah, I remember them all yelling, 'Shhhhh.' "

Center Tom Rafferty remembered thinking: "Make sure you don't drop the snap. But he was calm. He was not shook or anything."

The rest is history, of course. Pelluer picked up his first NFL yard on third-and-11 of the first series and then took the Cowboys on a 4 1-2-minute touchdown drive. He completed three passes, including the pressure-packed 28-yarder to Karl Powe with the Giants blitzing on third-and-15 from his 48.

"He seemed to know what he was doing," Rafferty said. "And if he didn't, it sure appeared like he did."

That is something Cowboys coach Tom Landry might try to find out Sunday when Dallas meets the 49ers in San Francisco. With White's shoulder still sore and the East title wrapped up, this might be a good opportunity to get another look at Pelluer.

"He might play some," Landry said. "We would like to put Pelluer in to see if the real Pelluer showed up last week. The guy was just amazing against New York."

Pelluer said no one has told him a thing. With White hurt, though, and Hogeboom expected to start, Pelluer probably will enter the game as backup quarterback.

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