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@Photos by Brenda Ray Coffee

This morning a television at the gym flashed a picture of Michael Irvin, former wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys, wearing his number 88 uniform. It reminded me of when I was a young photographer for the San Antonio Light and covered the Cowboy home games from the sidelines. I had a mad, mad, insanely mad, schoolgirl crush on another number 88, Cowboy wide receiver, Drew Pearson.

Is it considered cheating to have a serious crush on someone other than your husband?

Drew Pearson was a bonafide sport’s hero. Tall and thin, with the grace and legs of a dancer and the moves of a gazelle, I thought he was one of the most beautiful men I’d ever seen. He could stop on a dime, change direction in a heartbeat, and it seemed as though there was hardly a pass he couldn’t catch.

(The originals of both photos are slides and in perfect focus. They lost something in the scanning process.)

At my first home game, from the moment the players came onto the field to warm up, I zeroed in on Drew. He caught a warmup pass a few yards in front of me, stopped and gave me a smile. A few minutes later he caught another pass, out of bounds and, with ball in hand, walked toward me.

“Hi,” he said. “I haven’t seen you here before.” I told him it was my first time, covering the Cowboys. He smiled and asked where I was from and then said, “Enjoy the game!” and ran back onto the field. All I could think about while he was talking was my husband–in the stands–with his binoculars. As hard as I’d tried to keep my crush secret, he would’ve had to be deaf, blind and stupid not to know his wife was seriously gone on this guy, but he never said a word.

At the time there wasn’t a pro football team more high-profile than the Dallas Cowboys. The press referred to them as “America’s Team,” and liked to say the stadium’s retractable roof was so “God can watch His favorite team play.” If that wasn’t a lot for a husband to think about, Pearson was already considered one of the NFL’s greatest wide receivers and had made one of the most famous football plays in history.

Trailing 14-10, with only seconds left in a do or die, NFC Divisional Championship game against Minnesota, Cowboy quarterback, Roger Staubach, threw the now famous “Hail Mary Pass” to “Mr. Clutch,” Drew Pearson. Like pulling the impossible rabbit out of a hat, Drew made a miracluous catch in a play that earned the Cowboys a place in the Divisional Playoffs. When I hear the term, “Hail Mary,” I think about it differently.

Hail Mary! Drew Pearson made a pass at me!

After the game Drew came out of the players’s dressing room and found me. We talked for a while, and he asked for my phone number. When I told him I was married and my husband was waiting for me at the other end of the tunnel, he said, “Then I guess you’ll have to call me.”

While I never called, I was over the moon he was interested. On the other hand, he probably asked lots of women for their phone numbers. Regardless, my crush wasn’t worth jeopardizing my marriage. Did I tell my husband all of the details of our conversation? No, but when I emerged from the tunnel, carrying number 88’s game jersey, he probably got the picture.

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17 thoughts on “MY MARRIED CRUSH”

    • I had it for several years. Sometimes I wore it with jeans when I was at home, watching a Cowboy game on TV. One day it was in my gym bag, and my car was broken into. Everything was stolen out of it… including the jersey:( I was heartsick. This was before you could buy any player’s jersey online or at a sporting good store, so everyone knew it was the real deal. xoxox, Brenda

  1. You have had such an amazing life!! Thanks for sharing your stories! Love hearing them! And love you!

    • Thank you, Beckye! I kind of wondered about this one and then at church, Sunday, a male friend in his ’80’s, said he thought I should have kept that story to myself… Was he right, or is this a generational thing? If he’s right, there are a lot of my remembrances I should never post. Actually there are a lot Ithat will never see the light of day. Before I posted it, I did look online to see if Drew Pearson was married then–and to the same woman now–because I wouldn’t want it to somehow get out and hurt his wife. I learned he was married at the time, but is divorced from her, so who knows? Perhaps I wasn’t the only woman he asked for her phone number. Love you! Brenda

    • Yes… You consider it cheating? Perhaps it was… As Jimmy Carter said, “I lusted in my heart,” but I didn’t act on it. I got over it, and no one ever invaded my heart, again, for the next 17 years, until well after my husband died. I was in my 20’s and had no experience with matters of the heart except for my husband. While I’m not using that as an excuse, it is the way it was. I appreciate that you’re the only one who answered my question, Glenda. You’ve made me think, which I suspect I was hoping someone would, so thank you. Brenda

  2. Brenda this is a great story! I too remember the good ole days of the Dallas Cowboys! My sister and I liked Golden Richards! Remember him?

    PS. I’m a one year BC survivor

    • Hi Patti, Brava for being a survivor! That’s huge! I understand the fear and what you’ve been through. If I can ever help or you want an ear, please let me know. Golden Richards! Now that’s a name I haven’t heard for a long time! Wow! Like something out of a time capsule! So fun! Thanks Patti. XOXO, Brenda

  3. Brenda, I was a huge Cowboy fan during their heyday! Lance Rentzel was my crush! Quick story – The Staubach Co. was project manager when new Tyler (TX) schools were being built in the mid-2000s. For our beginning of the year teacher convocation, there was a special guest. None other than Roger waltzed down the aisle to half of the teachers squealing our heads off. The other half of the teachers?? When Roger got to the podium, he said, ” I realize half of y’all weren’t even born when I retired and have no idea who I am”! So, true – the teacher sitting next to me kept saying – who is it, who is it as I was screaming with excitement. Oh, to have been sideline photog. I would have been in heaven! What a life you have led!

    • Terry, My puppies jumped up here and deleted part of my reply to you. I wanted to say how fun and exciting to have Staubach come talk to all of you. It must be kind of strange for them to be so adored on one hand and on the other, a whole sector of the population’s never heard of them. XOXO, Brenda

  4. Hi Terry, Another trip down memory lane! Love this! Lance Rentzel… and Joey Heatherton, right? I have to laugh when my young trainer friend at the gym repeatedly doesn’t know who I’m talking about. He knows who Muhammad Ali is but is clueless about “the Thrilla’ in Manila!” XOXOX, Brenda

  5. AH! I’m SO jealous! I loved the Cowboys under the direction of Ton Landry – all of them! I hope his jersey is framed on your dining room wall 🙂

    • Hi Nancy, Forgive me, but I just now found your cute note! Would you believe it was in my gym bag, in my car, and someone broke in and stole it! I was crushed!!! I still have lots of great memories of conversations with Drew and lots of the other players. Some day I should write about Hollywood Henderson… Ugh!! Thanks for sharing my memories with me. Brenda

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