|Date of birth:||February 29, 1944|
|Place of birth:||Quincy, Massachusetts|
|NFL Draft:||1966 / Round: 1 / Pick: 5|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Playing stats at|
Niland was drafted in the first round (fifth overall) of the 1966 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys. He became the starting left offensive guard for the Cowboys from 1966 to 1974. One of the top offensive lineman of his era, he was particularly excellent as a pulling guard.
Practicing against Bob Lilly since his rookie year, helped him become a Pro Bowler and solidified an offensive line that won 3 NFC Championship Games and 1 Super Bowl. He was nicknamed Johnny Nightlife by his teammates, because of his thirst for the nightlife.
As a rookie in the 1966 NFL Championship Game and later in the 1967 NFL Championship Game, the so-called Ice Bowl, both Cowboy losses, Niland played next to left offensive tackle Tony Liscio and opposite right defensive tackle Lionel Aldridge of the Green Bay Packers.
The Cowboys eventually won the NFC Championship Game during the 1970-71 NFL playoffs against the San Francisco 49ers, thanks in great part to Duane Thomas's 143 yards on the ground, but lost in Super Bowl V to the Baltimore Colts. However, in the following year, they defeated again the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game of the 1971-72 NFL playoffs and then the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl VI. In the latter game, Niland and Liscio overwhelmed Bob Heinz and Bill Stanfill, respectively, leading Duane Thomas and others to a whopping 252 yards on the ground.
Along with Rayfield Wright, Nate Newton and Larry Allen, Niland is one of only four offensive lineman in team history with at least six Pro Bowl selections. He was selected to six consecutive Pro Bowls from 1968 to 1973 and was a three-time All-Pro selection, while only missing two games in his nine seasons with the Cowboys.