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Dallas Cowboys offensive great Ralph Neely dies at 78

Neely, who spent his entire career in Dallas, played on five Cowboys Super Bowl teams, and won two championships.
Credit: Dallas Cowboys
Ralph Neely (Dallas Cowboys)

DALLAS — Ralph Neely, dubbed "one of the first great offensive linemen in team history," died Jan. 5, according to the Dallas Cowboys. He was 78 years old.

The team did not say what caused his death.

Neely, who was born Sept. 12, 1943 in Little Rock, Arkansas and raised in Farmington, New Mexico, played his entire career with the Cowboys.

Before Neely came to Dallas, he played college football for the Oklahoma Sooners from 1962-64 under head coaches Bud Wilkinson and Gomer Jones.

He joined the Cowboys as a starter in 1965 and played for 13 years, wearing the No. 73 jersey.  After spending the first five years of his career at right tackle, Neely moved to the left side, where he played for the rest of his career. 

Credit: AP
The ball squirts out of the hands of Dallas Cowboys Dan Reeves, right, as he is brought down by a Green Bay tackler during the second quarter of the game, Nov. 26, 1970, Dallas, Tex. On the play are Fred Carr (53) linebacker and Bob Jeter (21) cornerback of the Packers. Ralph Neely races in to try to get the ball, recovered by another Cowboy player. The Cowboys got a first down on the miscue. (AP Photo/Ferd Kaufman)

Neely played on five Cowboys Super Bowl teams and won two championships. The final game of his career was the 1977 Super Bowl XII win over the Broncos. 

From 1967-69, Neely earned three first-team All-Pro awards. He also made the Pro Bowl in 1967 and 1969. 

According to the Cowboys, Neely ranks 11th in the franchise history, with 168 games started.