Mike Renfro

Mike Renfro
No. 82
Position: Wide receiver
Personal information
Date of birth: (1955-06-19) June 19, 1955
Place of birth: Fort Worth, Texas
Height: 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Weight: 184 lb (83 kg)
Career information
High school: Fort Worth (TX) Arlington Heights
College: TCU
NFL Draft: 1978 / Round: 4 / Pick: 98
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Receptions: 323
Receiving yards: 4,708
Receiving TDs: 28
Player stats at NFL.com
Player stats at PFR

Michael Ray Renfro (born June 19, 1955) is a former American professional football player in the National Football League for the Houston Oilers and Dallas Cowboys. He played college football at Texas Christian University.

Early years

Renfro attended Arlington Heights High School, where he was a multi-sport athlete. He accepted a football scholarship from Texas Christian University and was named a starter as a freshman. His best season came as a senior, posting 50 receptions for 794 yards and 10 touchdowns.

He graduated from college as the All-time leading pass receiver in school and Southwest Conference history, with 2,739 receiving yards. He also left as the school's career leader in receiving touchdowns (17) and career receptions (162). He played for the Horned Frogs during a low point in the TCU football history, which cost him the opportunity to earn more accolades for his play, after never experiencing a winning season and winning only 4 games in 4 seasons.

In 1988, he was inducted into the Texas Christian University Athletics Hall of Fame.[1] In 2016, he was inducted into the Southwest Conference Hall of Fame.

Professional career

Houston Oilers

Renfro was selected by the Houston Oilers in the fourth round (98th overall) of the 1978 NFL Draft. He became a starter as rookie, registering 26 receptions for 339 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Although he proved his worth as the team's possession receiver in the Oilers run-oriented offenses of the Earl Campbell era, he never had the opportunities to achieve high receiving numbers, even when catching balls from quarterback greats Dan Pastorini, Kenny Stabler and Archie Manning.

Renfro was involved in one of the most controversial plays in NFL playoff history. Losing 10-17 late in the third quarter, a Pastorini pass to Renfro for an apparent tying touchdown in the 1979 AFC Championship game against the Pittsburgh Steelers was ruled not a catch, costing the Oilers a chance for victory and a trip to the Super Bowl.[2] The play was cited as the impetus for league-wide instant replay in the league, which was instituted in 1986.[3]

In 1983, he did not play until the fifth regular season game while he was recovering from hepatitis and was eventually placed on the injured reserve list with a left knee injury on November 28.[4]

On April 13, 1984, he was traded to the Dallas Cowboys in exchange for wide receiver Butch Johnson, plus the right to swap second-round picks in the 1984 NFL Draft and the Oilers' fifth-rounder in the 1985 NFL Draft.[5] A year later, the Cowboys used that fifth round pick to select running back Herschel Walker.

Dallas Cowboys

In 1984, Renfro was acquired by the Dallas Cowboys after starter Drew Pearson suffered a career-ending car accident. At the time, he posted his best statistical season with 35 receptions for 583 yards and 2 touchdowns.

He was named the team's most valuable player for the 1985 season, after having a career year with 60 receptions for 955 yards and 8 touchdowns.

One of his best performances came on Thanksgiving Day 1987 against the Minnesota Vikings, registering 7 receptions for 100 yards and 3 touchdowns, in a game the Cowboys lost 44-38 in overtime.[6] He finished with a team leading 46 receptions at the end of the 1987 season.

Renfro was released on September 24, 1988, after being replaced with rookie first round draft choice Michael Irvin. He retired having played 10 seasons in the league, recording 323 receptions for 4,708 yards and 28 touchdowns.[7]

Renfro's football family lineage

His dad, Ray Renfro was a four-time world champion All-Pro wide receiver for the Cleveland Browns from 1952–1964 and was once considered the fastest man in football.[8] Ray and Mike are arguably the greatest father-son combination of wide receivers in NFL history combing for 604 receptions, 10,216 yards, and 78 touchdowns. Ray later went on to coach for the Washington Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys. He was the quarterbacks and receivers coach during Dallas’ first Super Bowl win in 1972 (Mike was the water boy for the Cowboys that season and wears his father's Super Bowl ring today).

His uncle, Dean Renfro, played receiver for the Baltimore Colts and was also the wide receivers’ coach at TCU during Mike's playing days for the Horned Frogs. Mike's two brothers played college wide receiver. Mike's two sons, Clint and Ford both played receiver at the collegiate level. Mike's nephew and cousin also played receiver at the collegiate level.

Personal life

Renfro served as the water boy for the Dallas Cowboys, during the time his father worked on the team's coaching staff.

His son, Clint, was a wide receiver and arguably one of the best high school recruits TCU has had. However, he was unable to participate in football due to multiple undiagnosed injuries. He did compete in Track & Field for two years at TCU. He was a conference champion and is the All-Time Record holder in the 400m hurdles at TCU. He attended Carroll Senior High School in Southlake, Texas, where he helped lead the team to state championships as a wide receiver in 2004 and 2005. He was an All-State selection as a wide receiver in 2004. Clint was also the 5A state champion in 300-meter hurdles as a senior and runner-up as a sophomore and junior. He had the second-fastest 300-meter hurdle time in the country in 2006 (36.25).


  1. "TCU Lettermen's Association Hall of Fame". Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  2. "Officials Mar Steeler Triumph". Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  3. "Instant Replay". Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  4. "Oilers' Renfro on injured reserve". Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  5. "Cowboys trade Butch Johnson to Houston". Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  6. "Vikings can taste playoffs after beating the Cowboys". Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  7. "Age Catches Up To Cowboys' Renfro". Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  8. "Good sense helping 23-year-old rookie survive". Retrieved February 19, 2016.
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