Happy Birthday to Rice Owl and Dallas Cowboy great Michael Downs, one of the many elite athletes to come out of South Oak Cliff.
As a sophomore, the 170 pound Downs had the misfortune of running headlong into the Tyler Rose, 220-pound Earl Campbell in a 72-15 shellacking at the hands of the 1977 Texas Longhorns. It might be the greatest stiff arm in football history. Campbell won the Heisman and Downs had better days ahead.
Downs intercepted three TCU passes in a 1978 Owl win. For the record, TCU turned it over eight times that Saturday. Par for the course for a TCU team in the 70s. That same year, another Downs’ interception keyed a Rice win upset over Baylor.
By 1980 Downs made the All-SWC list and Honorable Mention All-America. He made a key fumble recovery in a win over Texas A&M and ended his Rice career with nine picks.
Downs signed with his hometown Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free-agent in 1981. Downs’ play in training camp and a couple of injuries put him in the starting role for the 1981 season. In the opener, he picked off Joe Theismann on his way to seven interceptions during his rookie year. The NFL named Downs to the 1981 All-Rookie team.
In 1984, Downs led the Cowboys in tackles with 136, and interceptions with seven. A mainstay in the Cowboy lineup for much of the 80s, Downs ended his career with 121 career games and 35 career interceptions. Downs had a cup of coffee with the Phoenix Cardinals before hanging up his cleats. He earned degrees in Business Management, Physical Education, and Political Science while at Rice.
Happy Birthday, Michael Downs.