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Tony Tolbert

Sport: Football

Born: December 29, 1967

Town: Englewood

Anthony Lewis Tolbert was born December 29, 1967 in Tuskegeee, Alabama and grew up in Englewood. Tall, tough and agile, Tony was an impact player in youth football and became the star of the Dwight Morrow High School football team. As a defensive lineman, he was undersized by Division-I standards, however, his ability to get to the quarterback was enough to earn a scholarship from Texas–El Paso in 1985.

The Miners were perennial losers but in Tony’s sophomore year a coaching change brought Bob Stull to UTEP. He made Tony into an edge-rushing linebacker and in 1987 the team posted its first winning record since 1970. As a senior in 1988, Tony equaled a school record with 11 sacks and tallied over 100 tackles. He was named All-Western Athletic Conference and led the Miners to a 10-3 record and a berth in the Independence Bowl. He was an honorable mention All-American in 1988.

By the time Tony graduated, he had grown to 6’6” and weighed 250 pounds. The Dallas Cowboys took him in the 4th round of the 1989 NFL Draft and moved him to the defensive line, primarily on passing downs. The Cowboys were in the midst of a dramatic rebuild. They went 1–15 in Tony’s rookie year, but were building a core of stars that included Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, Darryl Johnston, Ken Norton and fellow New Jerseyan Jim Jeffcoat. Emmitt Smith was drafted in 1990. In 1991, Tony became the starter at left defensive end alongside Jeffcoat, Russell Maryland and Tony Casillas. He led the team with 7 sacks and the Cowboys won 11 games. Dallas won the Super Bowl in three of the next four seasons.

Tony was the rare end who could rush the passer and stop the run equally well. He led the Cowboys’ defensive linemen in tackles year in and year out and recorded a career-high 12 sacks in 1996, when he was named to the Pro Bowl and honored as a Second-Team All-Pro, both for the first time. Tony’s final NFL season was 1997. He put up his usual good numbers but his knees were shot and the Cowboys released him in 1998. Tony retired with 59 career sacks—more than any Cowboy in the 1990s.

 

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