“I never play ball anymore,” says 42-year-old ex-Dallas Cowboys running back Robert Newhouse. “I’m afraid I might hurt myself.”

“These days my football time consists of watching my son play for the Lake Highlands football team and helping different teams and players around Dallas improve their game.”

Although he doesn’t play ball, Lake Highlands resident Robert Newhouse remains involved in football.

After leaving the Cowboys in 1983, Newhouse became involved in various business ventures. Three years ago, he returned to the Cowboys.

Of course, you won’t see him making any of the short dashes for which he was known. Instead, he’s behind the scenes, helping promote the team in its marketing and sales department.

Newhouse was a second-round Cowboys draft pick in 1972. He played for the Cowboys 12 years as a running back. During his career, Dallas played in three Super Bowls (1975, 1977 and 1978).

But the Cowboys weren’t his first choice.

“I didn’t want to play for the Cowboys,” Newhouse says. “I have always been a fan of theirs, but my childhood dream was to play for the Kansas City Chiefs.”

As a kid, Newhouse played football, because “if you didn’t play football, you couldn’t play sports.” He played for Hallsville High School in East Texas, where he grew up.

“I was the smallest kid on the team,” he says, “so I never really got a chance to play.”

But Newhouse says he believed in himself and didn’t quit. It wasn’t until his senior year that he became a starter and received a chance to prove himself.

That year, the team had a winning record, and Newhouse received “all-district” and “All-American” honors, leading to a four-year football scholarship from the University of Houston.

Again, it wasn’t until his senior year that things began to look promising for the “small-build” player.

“I received college All-American, was the second-leading rusher in college football, and was selected to play in the Hula Bowl in Hawaii,” Newhouse says.

Then Newhouse was drafted by the Cowboys.

“It was a dream come true when I started for the first time in the 1975 Super Bowl game against the Pittsburgh Steelers,” he says.

“For me to come from a small town, go to college on a scholarship and then play for the Cowboys was a big achievement and an honor.”

What kept him motivated during his early years, when he felt the coaches didn’t really give him a chance?

“You work hard, and do everything you can. Personally, I tried to stay consistent and predictable, and I was always ready to play.”

That’s what Newhouse tries to impress upon his oldest son, Roddrick, who is a top running back for Lake Highlands. Newhouse says he wants Roddrick to be happy in whatever career he chooses, whether it’s football or something else.

And how does Newhouse rank himself as a player?

“Are you kidding? I am the greatest running back who ever walked on the field,” he says, laughing. “It was fun playing all those years, and that’s the most important thing.”