Unlike our previous undrafted wonders, Nate Newton was drafted. He was drafted by the Tampa Bay Bandits of the now folded United States Football League. This happened after the NFL Draft in 1983 and, in that draft, Newton’s name was never called.
His career started without a walk across the NFL Draft stage. Then he was signed as an undrafted free agent with the Washington Redskins but was cut shortly after. That’s when he was drafted by the Tampa Bay Bandits where he played for two seasons (1984 and 1985) as an offensive tackle. When the USFL folded the following year, Newton signed as a free agent with the Dallas Cowboys in 1986.
Growing up in Florida, Newton was an outcast.
While everyone was rooting for the Dolphins, Newton’s heroes were Cliff Harris, Robert Newhouse and Charlie Waters on America’s Team. When he was signed by Dallas, it was a dream come true for him.
When Jimmy Johnson took over the team in 1989, he admired Newton for his quick feet and, most of all, his size. Newton was nicknamed “The Kitchen” because he was bigger than William “The Refrigerator” Perry on the Chicago Bears.
Big Nate stood 6 foot 10, hovered around 325 pounds during the season and tipped the scale at 400 pounds in the off-season. He had spent so much time at a local deli, that the deli had named three sandwiches after him. While Emmitt Smith was the rushing leader, Nate Newton called himself “The Eating Leader.”
The man was big.
Although he became a starter at left guard in 1987, he struggled to maintain playing weight and was almost waived because of it. Newton was too big. Jimmy Johnson moved Newton to the starting right tackle position. He was forced to get into better shape after Johnson beat him in a running race.
In order for the team to have the best player combination possible on the offensive line, Newton was moved back to left guard. He thrived as a run blocker and held his own as a pass blocker because of his surprisingly quick feet.
Moving “The Kitchen” was not easy, getting around him was even harder.
Combine that with his tenacity and mean streak – he was a handful for opposing defensive ends. From 1992 -1995, He, Erik Williams, Mark Tuinei, Mark Stepnoski and Kevin Gogan were one of the best offensive lines in NFL history.
Clearing the way for Emmitt Smith in the early 90’s, Newton went to six Pro Bowls and was selected twice as an All-Pro player. He was a staple on the offensive line pass-blocking for quarterback Troy Aikman and helping the Cowboys win three Super Bowls.