Tom Rafferty

Tom Rafferty
No. 64
Position: Center / Guard
Personal information
Date of birth: (1954-08-02) August 2, 1954
Place of birth: Syracuse, New York
Height: 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Weight: 256 lb (116 kg)
Career information
High school: Fayetteville–Manlius (NY)
College: Penn State
NFL Draft: 1976 / Round: 4 / Pick: 119
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Games Played: 203
Games Started: 182
Player stats at
Player stats at PFR

Thomas Michael Rafferty (born August 2, 1954) is a former American football offensive lineman in the National Football League for the Dallas Cowboys. He played college football for head coach Joe Paterno at Penn State University.

Early years

Rafferty attended Fayetteville-Manlius High School, where he received all-league honors as a defensive lineman in football and also in lacrosse.

He accepted a scholarship from Penn State University, where he played for the legendary head coach Joe Paterno and was converted into an offensive lineman. In 1973, he was a part of an undefeated season (12-0). He became a starter as a junior and was named twice to the UPI's All-East team and once to the Football Writers' All-American team in 1975.[1][2]

In 1988, he was inducted into the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame.[3]

Professional career

Rafferty was selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the fourth round (119th overall) of the 1976 NFL Draft. As a rookie he was a backup to Blaine Nye. The next year he was named the starter at right guard, performing also as a long snapper for field goals and extra points, on a team that won Super Bowl XII against the Denver Broncos.

During this period, center John Fitzgerald nicknamed the Cowboys offensive line as the "Four Irishmen and a Scott", when it was formed by him, Rafferty, Pat Donovan, Jim Cooper and Herb Scott.

Known to his teammates as "Raff", he established himself as one of the better linemen in Cowboys history with an exemplary work ethic, durability and versatility. In 1981, he was moved to center after Robert Shaw went down with a career-ending knee injury, becoming the anchor of an offensive line that would enable the Cowboys to reach two NFC Championship Games.[4] Among his memorable moments, he and Scott teamed on the block that cleared the way for Tony Dorsett's 99-yard run against the Minnesota Vikings on Monday Night Football in 1983.

In 1989, he started the first 8 games before rookie Mark Stepnoski took over the center position. He announced his retirement on April 21, 1990.[5] He played in 221 total games for the Cowboys, including 167 consecutive games, which at the time was more than any other Cowboy in history. He appeared in 18 post-season games and 2 Super Bowls (XII and XIII).

Personal life

Rafferty earned his Bachelor of Science in physical education from Penn State University in 1976, and later earned an MBA from the University of Dallas.

He lives with his wife Donna and their children Michael and Rachel in Keller, Texas, where he is currently a regional sales manager at Sports Supply Group, a Dallas sports supply company. In April 2008, he had a sudden bout of the neurological disorder transverse myelitis. The disorder has caused him to use a walker and wheelchair while he undergoes physical therapy to re-learn how to walk.[6]


  1. "Honors begin for Dorsett: All-East". Retrieved February 21, 2016.
  2. "One of Selmon twins named Outland winners". Retrieved February 21, 2016.
  3. "1998 Inductees: Tom Rafferty". Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2016-02-01.
  4. Gehman, Jim (2013-06-24). "Catching Up With Tom Rafferty". Retrieved 2016-02-01.
  5. "Rafferty Retires". Retrieved February 21, 2016.
  6. Sham, Brad (2008-07-28). "Former Center Rafferty Battling Disease". Retrieved 2016-02-01.
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