Dallas Cowboys' number 88 football jersey is reserved for the best talent at the wide receiver position. That's due to the ambition, discipline, mental toughness, team camaraderie, accomplishments, notoriety and overall class that former Cowboys' receiver, Drew Pearson, brought to the role and that particular number. True to Drew's core nature, the legendary athlete continues to achieve off the football field in many other aspects of life.
Football fans can easily think of 88 reasons for which they admire Drew. However, Drew's focus is on the here and now regarding a full-spectrum of family, career, friends and faith!
"Being a former Dallas Cowboys has been unbelievable, given the name recognition and opportunities it created. You can't ask for better than that. But here's the deal: I've had an amazing life after football. I look at football as a candle on the cake, not the icing. Football was a true blessing, but other parts of life are, too," says Drew.
For starters, Drew Pearson Live airs every NFL Sunday morning at 11:30 a.m. on Channel 8 ABC WFAA-TV as the only local Dallas Cowboy-focused pre-game show. It's hosted by Drew himself, with a masterful mix of guests, topics, tidbits and examples of real-life Hail Mary moments, of course.
As a youngster, Drew enjoyed all sports and has played organized football since he was 7 years old. Not everyone knows he also was passionate about baseball and basketball, and had first wanted to pursue baseball in college. He says his All-State body frame at the time was ideally suited for baseball. Due to his success in high school as a football quarterback, he was heavily recruited for that game, but in his heart he still wanted to play the sport with the smaller ball--actually, he wanted to play both in college. So, he accepted the athletic program that told him he could do both, which was the University of Tulsa.
"It was the first time I'd been away from South River (New Jersey). I was 18 years old, and in a different environment and culture. It was very hard at first. I almost transferred out, but I eventually gave up my pursuit of baseball to concentrate on football. I set new goals and powered through it," he recalls.
Make no mistake, all that Drew ever wanted to be as a young boy was a professional athlete. Sports was, and still is, his passion.
Drew's Childhood Shaped His Lifelong Approach
With three brothers and three sisters, Drew says education was the family's priority. "Thank God that Dad loved to read the newspaper first thing in the morning. I'd wait for him to get done with the sports section, then I'd read it, over and over, like it was the Bible, memorizing info about players and stats," recalls Drew.
Being from New Jersey, Drew says there were lots of teams to track--the Giants, Jets, Knicks, Yankees and Mets. He says his East Coast region certainly was a good place for good sports information.
"But my Dad's rule was: 'No Pass, No Play,' so that became my motivation for school," he confides.
When Drew was only 13 years old, he began to play baseball with his adult cousin. He'd been going to games to be the bat boy previously. One day, however, his cousin's team was short a player. "They stuck me in right field. I caught a fly ball and got a hit. That was it. From there on, I was on the team," Drew says.
Post-game activities are humorous for Drew to remember, because the players would celebrate at a neighborhood bar. "I would wait in the car, and they would bring me orange soda and chips," he says.
After being hooked on ball, he says he used to sneak out of his house to play games on Sundays, which resulted in him skipping church. After many confrontations with her mother over the recurring situation, and her ultimately realizing how much ball obviously meant to him, they reached a compromise of him instead attending the Baptist church service held on Wednesday evenings.
Drew's youth became a path of education, sports and steady discipline. "Once we started something, Dad wouldn't let us quit. He taught us to have the mental toughness to fight through anything. That helped us with life's challenges," says Drew.
Truth be told, as a New Jersey resident and Giants/Jets fan, Drew confides he didn't really like the Dallas Cowboys while growing up. He respected the Cowboys, but they were competitors to his hometown teams. He remembers not thinking he'd ever be on the Cowboys team. But after entering the NFL in 1973 and receiving his first Cowboys' check, he embraced the Dallas way of life.
Lessons From The Dallas Cowboys
Football taught Drew how to get hit and knocked down, and how to get back up. "Life is like that part of sports in a lot of ways," he says.
Drew confirms he and the Cowboys' players learned much simply from how Coach Tom Landry carried himself. "It was about being professional, prepared, no-nonsense, concentrating on the next move, and learning how to take advantage of opportunities," says Drew.
Cowboys' football players were taught to be businessmen as well, Drew states. "We wore suits and ties, and carried briefcases. We studied game-related computer printouts and football analytics. Coach Landry was actually preparing us for the games and for the rest of our lives at the same time," Drew adds.
He says the approach worked because the reputation of being a former Dallas Cowboys' athlete opened several business and community doors for him. After retiring from football, he worked extensively as a sports broadcaster on several networks. He even launched his own licensed head gear and apparel business in 1985 called the Drew Pearson Company. He says his business endeavors were all built on the same philosophies he learned while being a Dallas Cowboy. He looked to hire people with character, intelligence and passion for what they do. He sought out others who prepare on a daily basis, and that approach worked well.
Drew's Current Crew
While Drew says he's had quite a few Hail Mary moments in his personal life, there wasn't always a name for overcoming those negative developments and situations. He just knew to whisper a "hallelujah" or an "amen" at the other end of them.
He says he's most proud of assisting all three of his children through college. Now with them and his extended family, he's getting to watch his grandson, Toren Pittman, who plays for Frisco's Lone Star High School football team, get heavily recruited for a variety of college football programs. "He's No. 1 in state, but I encouraged him to follow his heart. He choose and committed to the University of Colorado, which is surprising most people--just like my college choice did," says the beaming 69-year-old grandfather.
After the NFL football season, Drew hopes to take his new television show nationally. He has no shortage of folks who want to be on his show, starting with his first guest, Roger Staubach, also known as "Roger the Dodger," "Captain America" and "Captain Comeback."
Drew also has no shortage of trivia within his own memory to call upon with his TV guests, as he's still putting all those innate sports stats and trivia to good use! After all, Drew is known fondly as the spirited "Mr. Clutch!"