DALLAS — About all any Dallas Cowboys fan knows about Don Bishop is that he is the guy cornerback Trevon Diggs has tied for the most interceptions through the first five games of a season.
That Bishop's record set in 1961 was able to stand the test of time when Pro Bowlers, All-Pros, and Super Bowl MVPs played for the Cowboys, which makes Bishop's record just as significant as the fact that Diggs has matched it.
Dallas claimed Bishop off waivers from the Chicago Bears in 1960. Bishop was an undrafted free agent who caught on with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1958, but had a schizoid introduction to pro football as Pittsburgh used him as a halfback and a punt returner.
The Bears claimed Bishop off waivers in 1959 but he played in just one game for George Halas‘ squad. It wasn't until coach Tom Landry got a hold of Bishop in Dallas that he was placed at cornerback, which provided him the stability to work on his craft. Bishop was one of the inaugural Cowboys from the 1960 season.
In the second season of the Cowboys' existence, the former Los Angeles City College product picked off six passes through the first five games of the 1961 campaign. Dallas was 3-2 with two wins against the Minnesota Vikings, a win against the Steelers, and losses to the Cleveland Browns and New York Giants.
The Cowboys defense didn't have as many playmakers and standouts as they would by the end of the decade. There was promise on the roster as the club had drafted defensive tackle Bob Lilly from TCU that season and also traded for former Bears first-round pick Chuck Howley, whose career was threatened by a knee injury in 1960.
After getting six interceptions through the first five games, including two in the 31-10 loss to the Giants in Week 5, Bishop wouldn't get another pick until Week 9 in a 37-7 loss at the Steelers. He grabbed his eighth and final interception in Week 10 in a 28-28 tie against Washington.
Although Bishop was tied with the Giants' Jimmy Patton and the Steelers' Johnny Sample for the second-most picks that season, they were second only to the Giants' Dick Lynch's nine.
Dallas would finish 4-9-1 as they could not muster another win despite starting the year with an optimistic 4-3 record.
Bishop wasn't voted to the Pro Bowl for his standout effort in ‘61. However, the following year, while recording just six interceptions over the entire season, Bishop was voted to his only career Pro Bowl.
The Cowboys wouldn't get out of the expansion phase while Bishop was on the team. In 1962, Dallas would improve by a win with a 5-8-1 record. In 1963, they slouched to 4-10, and then somewhat rebounded in 1964 with a 5-8-1 record.
Bishop's last year with the team, 1965, saw Dallas catch a three-game winning streak and finish 7-7, which would serve as the catalyst for the Cowboys' streak of 20 consecutive seasons with a winning record that would start the next year.
However, Bishop wasn't around for any of the fun. The 31-year-old was out of football after that season. Bishop played 81 games for Dallas, starting in 60 of them, and left the team with 22 career interceptions, which ranks as 12th-most in team annals.
Mel Renfro (52), Everson Walls (44), Charlie Waters (41), Dennis Thurman (36), Cornell Green (34), Michael Downs (34), Terence Newman (32), Lee Roy Jordan (32), Cliff Harris (29), Howley (24), and even Darren Woodson (23) had to go past Bishop on their way to the top of team’s records.
Diggs is 13 career interceptions away from tying Bishop, and the prospect of getting there may become more difficult as teams start to realize that the balls headed in Diggs' direction aren't exactly a 50-50 proposition.
Do you think Trevon Diggs will exceed Bishop’s total of eight interceptions this season? Share your favorite Don Bishop memories with Mark on Twitter @therealmarklane.