Robert Newhouse, Jr., the former Dallas Cowboys standout who was the first running back to throw for a touchdown in a Super Bowl, passed away Tuesday after an extended battle with heart disease.
He was 64. His immediate family was with him during his final days at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Arrangements for a funeral in Dallas are pending.
"He fought a long, hard fight," Rodd Newhouse, his oldest son, told USA TODAY Sports. Robert was at the Mayo Clinic receiving treatment since November. "He definitely showed everyone, especially his family, that he was a fighter."
Newhouse is also survived by wife Nancy, daughters Dawnyel and Shawntel and Reggie, who played receiver for the Arizona Cardinals in 2004 and 2005.
The family issued a statement expressing gratitude to supporters. Newhouse, who served as the Cowboys' director of alumni relations, suffered a stroke in 2010.
"While his presence will be missed, his memories and inspirations will live on forever!" the family said in the statement. "He was #44 in the program, but he was #1 in our hearts!"
Newhouse joined the Cowboys as a second-round pick from the University of Houston in 1972 and played 12 seasons in Tom Landry's system. Although he was primarily a blocking back for the likes of Tony Dorsett, he could also supply a power rushing game while carrying perhaps the NFL's largest thighs at 44 inches. He led the Cowboys in rushing with 930 yards in 1975 and retired after the 1983 season as the franchise's fourth-leading rusher with 4,784 yards.
His most famous play came in the fourth quarter of a Super Bowl XII victory against the Denver Broncos, when Newhouse pulled up on a halfback option and fired a 29-yard scoring strike to Golden Richards that put the game out of reach.
He also holds numerous University of Houston records, leaving as the school's all-time leading rusher and in 1977 inducted into the Athletic Hall of Honor.