Big Nate Newton was a pillar of strength for the Dallas Cowboys dynasty of the 1990s.
With Newton playing left guard for head coaches Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer, America’s Team won three Super Bowl titles in four years from 1992 to 1995.
Newton was as nimble as he was gargantuan – the 6’3″, 335 lb. behemoth thrived as a run and pass blocker during his thirteen-year tenure in Dallas.
Newton was so big he earned the nickname “The Kitchen” because he was bigger than the Chicago Bears’ William “The Refrigerator” Perry.
Ironically, Newton wound up becoming a six-time Pro Bowl and two-time First-Team All-Pro offensive lineman of the Cowboys – the football team he grew up following in Orlando, FL.
Although Newton’s life off the gridiron was shrouded in plenty of controversy, he eventually got his act together during retirement.
Despite Newton’s checkered past, he’s one of the best offensive linemen in Dallas Cowboys’ franchise history.
Nathaniel Newton Jr. was born in Orlando, FL to parents Nate Sr. and Margaret on December 20, 1961.
Newton had four siblings – one sister and three brothers. His younger brother Tim was a defensive tackle who played a combined nine seasons for the Minnesota Vikings, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Kansas City Chiefs.
His father Nate Sr. ran a gas station while his mother Margaret worked as a schoolteacher.
Almost everybody in Nate Newton’s neighborhood pulled for the Miami Dolphins.
Everybody except Newton, who grew up following the Dallas Cowboys – the team he’d spend the majority of his career within the National Football League.
Newton idolized Cowboys legends Cliff Harris, Robert Newhouse, and Charlie Waters as a young boy in Florida, per InsideTheStar.com’s Dante Giannetta.
801 S Rio Grande Ave
Orlando, FL 32805
Stop by and have some Fun. Meet and Greet
See You around 10am YES!! pic.twitter.com/z4aalABmTR
— Nathaniel Newton Jr (@61NateNewton) March 30, 2022
Newton attended Jones High School in his hometown. He excelled in football, basketball, shot put, and wrestling for the Jones Tigers.
Newton was a bully growing up in the Orlando area.
He told Sports Illustrated’s Leigh Montville in June 1994 that he shut down any party where he wasn’t invited.
“I was terrible,” Newton admitted to Montville. “I was the worst.”
Ironically, Newton also told Sports Illustrated some two decades later he was mostly a recluse and homebody as a teenager.
The Arizona State Sun Devils had Newton on their radar during his senior year at Jones High School.
Unfortunately, Newton balked at the thought of being 3,000 miles away from his family and running up and down a mountain for legendary Sun Devils’ head football coach Frank Kush.
Nate Newton remained in-state and committed to the Florida A&M Rattlers in the next phase of his gridiron journey.
College Days With The Florida A&M Rattlers
Nate Newton attended Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, FL from 1979 to 1982.
According to Montville, Newton regularly hung out at a campus street known as “The Set” which was strategically located near the women’s dormitories and dining hall.
His best friend Tony Hayes, who became a Dallas police officer after graduation, vividly remembered Newton always sporting a shaved head and shorts.
“It could be the coldest day of the year, and he’d be wearing shorts and these businessman’s hard-soled shoes and these long black businessman’s socks.” Hayes told Sports Illustrated in 1994. “He was something to see.”
Newton also had a reputation for spewing profanity when he attended Florida A&M.
Newton once uttered a curse word when he was a child. His dad Nate Sr. heard him.
Instead of reprimanding him, the older Newton told him he could start cursing when he was old enough and away from home.
His son took his word for it and began cursing to his heart’s content in college.
Undrafted @dallascowboys Legend Nate Newton
— #DraftHBCUPlayers (@DraftHBCU) November 17, 2021
Newton also earned a reputation as a notorious prankster at Florida A&M.
Whenever somebody wore mismatched outfits or sported a funny hairdo, Newton took a swipe at her.
Hayes told Montville it got so bad students stayed in the dining hall until 8 pm because they didn’t want to walk past Newton, the big man on campus.
However, Newton came around when he heard of an assailant pulling the trigger on a much bigger victim all because the latter had been badgering him for money he owed him.
It made Newton realize people becoming afraid of him was not a good way to live.
Newton suited up for Florida A&M Rattlers head football coach Rudy Hubbard.
The Rattlers upset the Miami Hurricanes on the road 16-13 during Newton’s true freshman season in 1979.
Newton earned All-Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference honors following his sophomore campaign with the Rattlers in 1980.
Nate Newton bade Florida A&M goodbye following his senior season in 1982.
Little did Newton know he’d become a prominent name of the team he grew up following – the Dallas Cowboys.
Pro Football Career
The Tampa Bay Bandits selected Newton in the 1983 USFL Territorial Draft.
However, Newton decided to sign an undrafted free agent deal with the Washington Redskins that year.
Alas, the Redskins released him during training camp in 1983. To make matters worse, Newton sustained serious injuries in a car accident on the same day.
When the USFL ceased operations in 1986, Newton signed with the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent.
Newton flourished as a left guard and right tackle for the Cowboys in the next twelve years of his pro football career.
He also joined a Dallas team that was on the verge of building a dynasty in the 1990s.
However, when Newton first joined the Cowboys in 1986, the team slowly became an afterthought as the Tom Landry era wound down.
Dallas won an average of six games a year in Landry’s final three years at the helm from 1986 to 1988.
Landry appointed Newton as his starting left guard in 1987. Unfortunately, Newton struggled to keep the weight off and almost lost his job as a result.
Things would look up for Newton in subsequent years.
Thanks Coach Very Very MUCH!! pic.twitter.com/8F6O5EBQO0
— Nathaniel Newton Jr (@61NateNewton) June 17, 2022
When the Cowboys hired future Hall of Fame head coach Jimmy Johnson in 1989, he marveled at the 6’10”, 335 lb. Newton’s size and agility.
Newton grew even bigger during the offseason. He’d tip the scales at a whopping 400 pounds between February and September.
According to Giannetta, Newton eventually earned the nickname “The Kitchen” because he had a bigger frame than the Chicago Bears’ William “The Refrigerator” Perry.
Johnson, the man who led them to back-to-back Super Bowl titles in 1992 and 1993, moved Newton to the starting right tackle position in his fourth year with the squad.
Newton had to improve his physical conditioning after the 46-year-old Johnson, who was older than him by eighteen years, beat him in a race, per InsideTheStar.com.
Around that time, the Cowboys put Newton on a Jenny Craig diet. Dallas offensive line coach Tony Wise once discussed a letter from a Jenny Craig representative who expressed concern over Newton skipping his appointments.
It turned out somebody spotted Newton at a rib eating contest a week earlier, per SI.com’s Austin Murphy.
Before long Johnson moved a more conditioned Newton to the left guard position. The nimble Newton helped open up running holes for perennial Pro Bowl running back Emmitt Smith.
He also improved his pass blocking abilities so Pro Bowl quarterback Troy Aikman could find open receivers downfield.
Regrettably, Newton’s reputation as a bully lasted well into his NFL playing career.
When the Cowboys played a preseason game in Tokyo in 1992, Newton ran into ESPN reporter Pam Oliver, who was his best friend Tony Hayes’ girlfriend.
Oliver and Newton both went to college at Florida A&M University. The exhibition game in Japan was the first time Newton had seen her since their college days.
Newton smiled and began to say hello. However, Oliver’s eyes bulged out, and she thought about running away.
“Nate Newton was a monster,” Oliver told Montville some two years later.
Newton had to assure Oliver he wasn’t the same person anymore. He told her he was completely different from the bully she thought he was back in college.
Things also looked up for Nate Newton off the gridiron that year.
He married his girlfriend Dorothy Johnson, a former Louisiana-Lafayette volleyball standout. They eventually had two sons, Nathaniel III and King.
Prior to signing a three-year, $3.46 million contract extension with the Cowboys in the summer of 1994, Nate Newton had fourteen pit bulls in his backyard.
Newton barricaded his house’s perimeter with a chain-link fence and a wooden fence so his pit bulls didn’t pose a threat to his neighbors.
He eventually gave them away because he wanted to be ready in the event he left Dallas for another city in free agency.
He enjoyed riding the bike at the height of his NFL career with the Cowboys. He told Montville it helped keep the weight off his knees.
The only thing that got on Newton’s nerves was the tiny bicycle seat that couldn’t accommodate his massive 400 lb. frame.
— Rowdy (@RowdyCowboys) July 31, 2014
Along with Erik Williams, Mark Tuinei, Mark Stepnoski, and Kevin Gogan, Nate Newton became a fixture of a Dallas Cowboys offensive line that helped the team dominate in the 1990s.
That unit helped Dallas win an average of twelve games per year from 1992 to 1995.
The Cowboys won their third Super Bowl title just four years into the Jimmy Johnson era in 1992. They won their fifth Vince Lombardi Trophy a mere twelve months later.
Dallas won its third Super Bowl title in four years under the leadership of second-year head coach Barry Switzer in 1995.
Nate Newton, former USFL standout and Washington Redskins outcast, had three Super Bowl rings after his tenth year in the National Football League.
Newton’s ascent as one of pro football’s finest offensive linemen coincided with the Cowboys’ dominance.
Newton earned five straight Pro Bowl berths from 1992 to 1996. He earned consecutive First-Team All-Pro selections in 1994 and 1995.
When Newton drove his Ford F150 to training camp several years later, Cowboys wide receivers Michael Irvin and Alvin Harper drove their Mercedes 500 SLs.
Irvin and Harper made fun of Newton. They told him in no uncertain terms they’d make him eat their dust.
All of a sudden, Newton stepped on the gas and burned the asphalt. Before everybody knew it, his speedometer reached 120 mph.
Newton told Irvin and Harper at the next rest area it wasn’t about the car, it was about how much you step on the gas.
Although the Cowboys won an average of nine games in Newton’s last three years with the team from 1996 to 1998, they never made it past the NFC Divisional Round during that time frame.
Newton signed with the Carolina Panthers before the 1999 NFL season.
He took the field for the Panthers as a backup guard for seven games. They eventually placed him on season-ending injured reserve due to a torn triceps tendon. He never played another down afterward.
Nate Newton retired from the National Football League after his one-year stint in Carolina.
Despite ending his pro football career on a sour note, Nate Newton remains one of the best offensive linemen in Dallas Cowboys franchise history.
Nate Newton and his wife Michelle currently reside in the Dallas, TX area.
Newton and his ex-wife Dorothy have two sons, Nathaniel III (nicknamed “Tre”) and King. He also has three other children with three different women.
Both Tre and King played football at Southlake Carroll High School near the Fort Worth, TX area.
My Son Tre’ and Wife Jackie are Doing It or Having It YES!! pic.twitter.com/9734eY1AvS
— Nathaniel Newton Jr (@61NateNewton) May 15, 2022
Their father Nate admitted two decades after retiring from pro football in 2000 that he was a hedonist during his playing days.
“I was wild, man,” Newton told SI.com’s Austin Murphy in the summer of 2014. “When I die, brother, the world gonna be mad at me, because I took everything it had to offer.”
Newton told MRT.com’s Oscar LeRoy in February 2019 that the Cowboys – who were known for their partying ways off the football field in the 1990s – wouldn’t have been a team had social media existed during their era.
Nate and Dorothy divorced in 2000. She wrote in her autobiography “Silent Tears” (via SI.com) that her ex-husband had a mean streak when they were still together.
The former Dorothy Newton revealed that Nate shoved her against the wall, shattered her car’s driver’s window with his fist, and grabbed her by the hair pulling her around their house.
“A lot of times I would come home in a bad [condition], mentally and physically,” Newton told SI.com. “But nobody ever deserves that.”
Fortunately, he turned over a new leaf much later in life.
Newton ventured into the sports broadcasting field in 2000. He was an ESPN radio commentator and BET college football analyst that year.
Newton made headlines just two years after he played his final down in the National Football League.
Louisiana police arrested Newton after they confiscated 213 pounds of marijuana from a van in the fall of 2001.
According to The Associated Press (via ESPN), authorities charged Newton and two of his companions with possession with intent to distribute marijuana.
Police charged another accomplice, who was in another vehicle with $18,000 worth of marijuana, with conspiracy to possess narcotics.
Authorities arrested Newton again while he was out on a $100,000 bond just six weeks later. He faced accusations of loading 175 pounds of marijuana in a car’s trunk.
Consequently, Newton served 30 months in federal prison for drug trafficking. He was released in the fall of 2004.
Newton told The Associated Press (via ESPN) that his estimated earnings per drug deal in the early 2000s were $75,000.
Fortunately, Newton became remorseful while serving time in jail and had a change of heart.
“I got on my knees and said, ‘God, I want to make a deal…you protect me in here, and when I come out, I’ll do everything I can to make it right,” Newton told Dallas, TX radio station KKDA (via ESPN).
Newton reached out to bail bondsman David Wells shortly after his release. The former needed a job so he didn’t violate his parole.
Wells introduced Newton to a community activist and minister Omar Jahwar at a local Hooters, of all places. Jahwar helped Newton become a high school student mentor.
Nate Newton discovered Christ that night.
Newton apologized to Dorothy, his parents, children, the Cowboys, and their fans over the next few days.
“Nate’s been all about keeping it real and keeping it straight,” Wells told Sports Illustrated in 2014.
Newton is currently a member of Dallas North Community Bible Church.
He underwent a vertical gastrectomy procedure in February 2010, per The Dallas Morning News (via Yahoo! Sports’ Chris Chase).
The surgery removed 75 percent of Newton’s stomach and made him lose a significant amount of weight – he weighed just 220 pounds nine months later.
Newton’s playing weight peaked at 401 pounds. Unfortunately, he couldn’t slim down more than a decade into retirement.
It got so bad for Newton at one point he couldn’t walk several yards without catching his breath.
The excess weight also took a massive toll on Newton’s family life.
“I wanted to keep on keeping on until one day I went out in the front yard to play with my son and I couldn’t,” Newton told ESPN in 2010. “When you’ve got arthritis in your back, your knees, your elbows, your hands, big is bad.”
He lost almost half of that amount after his surgical procedure. Tipping the scales at 220 pounds was the lightest he had ever weighed since he was in eighth grade.
Newton also stopped eating french fries, paid closer attention to his diet, quit drinking beer, and worked out consistently. The results were startling, to say the least.
Hall of Fame defensive back Deion Sanders was Newton’s teammate for four seasons with the Cowboys from 1995 to 1998.
Sanders had coffee with Newton several months after he underwent vertical gastrectomy. The former hardly recognized his former teammate. He also expected Newton to extend his life span significantly.
Despite Newton’s leaner and more athletic frame, he doesn’t get as many discounts as he did in years past.
“I don’t get discounts anymore because nobody recognizes me until they see my credit card,” Newton told The Dallas Morning News (via Yahoo! Sports) in the fall of 2010.
Newton confirmed NFL players used DMSO, a type of horse liniment, to speed up recovery during the 1990s.
He said players who used DMSO had to be careful because it was like a poison that was unsafe to consume.
Instead, they had to rub it on the affected areas. If a player consumed DMSO, it produced a pungent odor similar to his mouth reeking of onions.
One time Newton walked by his Dallas Cowboys teammate, defensive tackle Tony Casillas, in the locker room and he knew right away the latter was back on DMSO.
Newton made the revelation during an episode of the Coop & Nate Show on Dallas’ 103.3 FM in February 2013.
Nate Newton became a member of the Black College Hall of Fame in January 2022. He’s also a member of the USFL’s All-Time Team.