During his playing career, Nate Newton did everything an offensive lineman on a star-studded team could do to earn his way onto the “worst” list. First, Newton, a 6-time Pro Bowler and 3-time Super Bowl champion, was very, very good. The other bona fide occupational qualification for the “worst” list is to have done the ‘Skins some great indignity. Newton did, indirectly.
Newton was signed by the ‘Skins as an undrafted rookie free agent in 1983; he didn’t make the final roster. Bobby Beathard and Joe Gibbs made a lot of personnel magic during their tenure together in the 1980s. They mined quarterbacks like Jay Schroeder, Doug Williams and Mark Rypien late in drafts or via free agency. They also put together a “scab” team during the ’87 players strike that went 3-0 and contributed mightily to the “regulars” who won the Super Bowl that season. But they completely whiffed on Newton. The mistake cut right at the heart of what the ‘Skins were during the Gibbs era: a team led by its offensive line. The Hogs were the constant and indelible image of the ‘Skins’ dynasty from ’82-’92. Members of the distinct group, players like Joe Jacoby and Jeff Bostic, were often undrafted free agents or late round selections who completely outplayed their draft status. Nate Newton would have been a perfect Hog.
A few years after the ‘Skins cut him loose, Newton made his way onto the Cowboys’ roster. He became a stalwart on a dominant offensive line that helped propel Dallas’ triplets – Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin – into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Football, though, rarely shines its spotlight on an offensive lineman (and a guard at that). Newton became famous, or perhaps infamous, and earned his way onto this side of the countdown by his post-playing career, ahem, “entrepreneurial” pursuits.
Before there was Sam Hurd, ironically (well, not really) another former Cowboy, there was Nate Newton. A few years after he hung up the cleats, Newton was caught…twice…with a few hundred pounds of marijuana and earned some time in the clink for his illegal cargo. Fortunately, Newton has stayed out of trouble since paying his debt to society. Still, his acts were consistent with the principles – particularly those of the Jerry Jones era – of the organization he represented for over a decade. On second thought, when Beathard and Gibbs cut Newton, perhaps they knew his core values were more aligned with those of their wayward NFC East rival.
Hail…Sons of Washington!