John Dutton will not play for the Dallas Cowboys Sunday night against the Los Angeles Rams, although he is not far away from combat readiness.
The trade with the Baltimore Colts was completed Tuesday night and the defensive end began practicing her Wednesday. He is eligible to play. He came here at his normal playing weight, indicating he has kept himself in good offseason condition. The cowboys, however, will give him four to six weeks to get the feel of things.
They figure that time will compensate for missing training camp and then some, and that he should be ready to help them well before playoff time.
Dutton remarked that the Dallas defensive thinking is similar to what he was taught at the University of Nebraska. And when he played right defensive end for the Colts, he lined up with a left-handed stance that will make the transition to left end here easier.
Dutton is the same age, 28, and has had the same experience as Ed (Too Tall) Jones, the Cowboy who became a boxer.
General Manager Tex Schramm of the Cowboys is taking a ribbing for seeming to emulate former adversary George Allen in trading draft choices for a proven veteran. "Guilty . . . guilty," Schramm said. "I can just hear George Allen crowing."
Gill Brandt, the Cowboys' talent procurer, entered a guilty plea, too. "I was just as tenacious as George Allen," he said. "I kept after Ted Marchibroda (Colt coach) all week to make the deal".
Brandt rationalized the turnabout in the Cowboy policy by noting, "Since most of the current big winners got there through the draft, no other team wants to part with draft choices now. It's hard to make trades and we don't end up with high picks in the first round because of our high finishes in the standings."
Dutton said he would not have returned to the Colts under any circumstances because he was distressed by his dealings with owner Bob Irsay. In fact, Dutton accepted less from the Cowboys in salary than offered by the Colts.
Dutton said that was because he wanted to be with a big winner, but the Cowboys were thinking about theirpayroll balance and did not want to have to pay Dutton more than Randy White or Harvey Martin.
Schramm said he did not negotiate with the Colts for Dutton so much because the Cowboys needed him, but because, as Schramm put it, "he was there to be had."
"We were getting by with our current lineup," he said, "and we probably would have. Our concern was that the sudden retirement of Ed Jones disrupted our program. We figured to have him for four or five more years at least. His absence meant that we would have to wait that long for someone else to reach his level of play.
"In effect, Jones' retirement cost us a No. 1 and a No. 2 draft choice, what we gave up for Dutton.
"If the Colts use the No. 1 to draft a defensive end, they will have to wait for him to develop. Dutton already is developed, with six years of experience, and figures to give us top-level performances for as long as Jones would have.
"We will have the use of Dutton all that time while the Colts are waiting for a draftee to reach his stature, and we will also have Dutton for this season."
The way the Dallas defense works, the left defensive end tries to handle the flow of an opponent's offense, which usually directs most of its plays to the right. The Cowboys generate their pass rush on the right side of their line, where white plays tackle and Martin plays end.
"If Dutton regains the form he showed in 1976 with the Colts, we are sure he is strong enough to control his side and we will not have to disturb the right side of our line," Schramm said. "Dutton will give our youngsters time to develop behind him. We now can move veteran Larry Cole back to tackle, where he feels more comfortable from end."
Schramm, a longtime power in National Football League councils, was evasive when it was suggested that the Cowboys also made the deal to try to resolve a sticky problem for Commissioner Pete Rozelle.
Dutton had filed a grievance against the NFL's option-year procedure. He contended he could have become a free agent after playing out his option for two straight years, despite receiving automatic 10 percent raises.
The league and the players union voted the issue to arbitration. There are scores of other players in Dutton's situation also claiming free agency, but the Cowboys and their colleagues contend the issure was resolved when Dutton signed with the Cowboys and dropped his grievance. The union argues the opposite, calling it a class-ac-tion grievance that still needs a ruling from the arbitrator.