Eddie LeBaron, Cowboys’ first quarterback, dead at 85

STOCKTON, Calif. (AP) – Eddie LeBaron Jr., war hero, college football Hall of Famer and the first quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys when they joined the NFL in 1960, died Wednesday.

The University of Pacific said LeBaron died of natural causes. He was 85.

LeBaron played at Pacific for coach Amos Alonzo Stagg and also helped lead the Tigers to an undefeated season in 1949. He later served as a U.S. Marine in the Korean War and was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star for heroism.

LeBaron played 11 seasons in the NFL for Washington and Dallas. He threw for 13,399 yards and 104 touchdowns and was selected to four Pro Bowls.

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At 5 feet 7 inches tall and 160 pounds, LeBaron was small for an NFL quarterback, even in the 1950s and ‘60s. He led the Cowboys’ offense until Don Meredith took over in 1963. LeBaron retired after that season.

He received the Legends Award from Fort Worth’s Davey O’Brien Foundation in 2012.

LeBaron served as general manager of the Atlanta Falcons from 1977 to 1982 and was the league’s Executive of the Year in 1980. He also served on the NFL’s Competition Committee.

LeBaron is survived by his wife Doralee, sons Edward “Wayne” III, Richard and William, and five grandchildren.