2017-07-26 04:14:52 UTC
Willie Townes, the Cowboys defensive end whose Ice Bowl hit on Bart Starr forced the fumble that led to the Cowboys' first touchdown against the Packers in the 1967 NFL Championship Game, died Saturday.
He had turned 74 the previous day while in hospice care at his Mesquite home.
"He came home from the Ice Bowl and his hands were still frozen," said Sandra Clark, Townes' ex-wife. "Then the skin began peeling off. They hurt him for the rest of his life. But Willie had a high threshold for pain."
Townes, a second-round pick out of the University of Tulsa in the 1966 NFL draft, played only three seasons for the Cowboys. He started eight games as a rookie in 1966. During the 1967 season, he played left end alongside Jethro Pugh, Bob Lilly and George Andrie on the Cowboys defensive line. It was Andrie, the right end, who picked up the fumble by Starr, the Packers quarterback, and rambled seven yards for the Cowboys' first score late in the second quarter. The Packers famously won the game 21-17 in frigid, below-zero temperatures in Green Bay.
A hamstring injury limited the 6-4, 260-pound Townes to only five games in 1968. The injury forced him to sit out the 1969 season. He was traded to the New Orleans Saints in 1970, the final season of his NFL career.
Clark said her former husband, who had two knee replacements and a shoulder replacement, suffered a recent heart attack and was later discovered to have pancreatic cancer.
Townes and Clark had one son, Willie Jr., who played football at Bishop Dunne High School. Like his father, he was a defensive lineman.
"My father was an honorable, trustworthy man," said Willie Jr. 45. "When he said he would do something it was as good as done."
In addition to Willie Jr., Townes is survived by his wife, Kandi.