American Football Database
Michael Lynn Downs
Personal information
Date of birth: (1959-06-09) June 9, 1959 (age 63)
Place of birth: Dallas, Texas
Career information
College: Rice
Debuted in 1981 for the [[{{{debutteam}}}]]
Last played in 1989 for the [[{{{finalteam}}}]]
Career history
Career highlights and awards
  • 1981 All-Rookie team
  • 1994 All-Pro
  • 1995 and 1996 All-NFC
Stats at
Stats at

Michael Lynn Downs (born June 9, 1959 in Dallas, Texas) is a former American football safety in the NFL, having played for the Dallas Cowboys (1981–1988) and the Phoenix Cardinals (1989). He is a 1977 graduate of South Oak Cliff High School in Dallas.[1]

Early life

Downs graduated from South Oak Cliff High School in Dallas, Texas. During high school, he was a member of the Honor Society. He served as team captain of the football team and was selected as an All-District in football. He also was a letterman in Track and Field.

Downs graduated from Rice University in 1981. He received a BA in Business Management, Political Science and Physical Education. While in college he was selected as All-Southwest conference and All-American honorable mention in football, as well as having served as team captain.

Professional career

Dallas Cowboys

Downs was signed by the Dallas Cowboys in 1981 as an undrafted free agent safety. He was so impressive in training camp, that he became the third rookie in Cowboys history to begin the season as a starter, after free safety Randy Hughes suffered a shoulder injury during pre-season.

He was a playmaker from the start. Playing against the Washington Redskins in the season opener, he intercepted a Joe Theismann pass in the first quarter, he had a stretch of three straight games with an interception and would go on to intercept a total of 7 passes, on his way to making the All-Rookie team. During his career he led the team in interceptions twice: 1984 and 1986.

Downs was one of the best tacklers in the NFL, leading the Cowboys secondary for seven consecutive seasons (1981 to 1987), recording over 100 tackles for four consecutive seasons (1983 to 1986) and leading the team in tackles in three seasons.

His best year came in 1984 when he had a team-leading 7 interceptions and 93 solo tackles (with 3.5 sacks), and even though he wasn't voted to the Pro Bowl, he was named All-Pro and All-NFC. The next year he was named All-NFC again.

He served as team captain for the Cowboys in 1984 and 1985.

In 1989 with the arrival of Jimmy Johnson, he was released before the season started.

Phoenix Cardinals

He signed in 1989 as a free agent with the Phoenix Cardinals, where he would play his last season. The last week of October the Cardinals came into Texas Stadium and defeated the Cowboys. Gene Stallings (former Cowboys' secondary coach, then the Cardinals' head coach), and Dennis Thurman (former Cowboys' defensive back, then Cardinals' secondary coach) were also part of the team.

Downs helped anchor the Cowboys secondary for most of the eighties decade. He played nine seasons in the NFL, recorded 8 sacks, 35 interceptions with 470 return yards and three touchdowns (one from int return and two from fumble returns).


  1. "My High School: South Oak Cliff," The Dallas Morning News sports section online.

External links