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Thursday, August 8, 1996

Nothing coming easy to Tony Dorsett's son

Associated Press

SAN ANTONIO - Houston Oilers rookie Anthony Dorsett doesn't want any special treatment for being the son of Hall of Fame running back Tony Dorsett, and he's gotten his wish.

In fact, Dorsett is finding out quickly that having a famous father can make things more difficult.

"He told me that I'd come here and it would be more competitive for me than other people because a lot of players would think everything's been sugarcoated for me, so they'll try a little harder against me," the younger Dorsett said. "I have to show them there's nothing sweet about me."

Dorsett, a sixth-round pick, has never backed away from the challenge of his father's shadow. The perfect example was choosing to go to his father's alma mater, Pitt. The only difference is that Anthony plays defensive back, not running back.

"People asked me about going to Pitt," he said. "I don't think it will be easy anywhere I go. I'll hear the music and respond to it. It's something I'll have to live with. The questions don't bother me."

Dorsett's parents divorced when he was young, giving the younger Dorsett two perspectives. He spent his final two high school years living in Dallas with his father and playing football at Richardson Pearce.

"I lived with my mom and then I'd go with my dad," Dorsett said. "You get to see how people are treated outside the limelight. When you're with a person like Tony Dorsett, you can go anywhere, get anything. But when you're an average person and someone doesn't know you, you're treated like that.

"Seeing both sides, that molded me to realize that just because a person has status he shouldn't be looked on as untouchable."

Dorsett showed some of his pop's speed in Saturday's season opening exhibition game against the New York Jets with a 99-yard kickoff return.

But it will take more than his name to get Dorsett a job with the Oilers.

"It showed speed and he had vision to see a hole and go for it," Oilers coach Jeff Fisher said. "Part of the process of becoming a kick returner is learning to hold onto the ball when he takes a real hard hit. That's what we have to find out."

As a defensive back for Pitt, Dorsett finished his college career with 80 tackles, 14 passes defensed and three interceptions. He saw some playing time at wide receiver, and also lettered twice in track.
If Dorsett continues to emerge as a kick returner, Fisher could use Dorsett and Mel Gray as a duo on returns.

"I wouldn't mind having them kick away from Dorsett with Mel Gray back there," Fisher said.
Dorsett says he's never challenged his dad to a foot race.

"I don't want to beat my dad," he laughed. "He says we'll have a dash for cash, but I'd feel bad. I might hurt his feelings. I guess eventually we'll have to do it because everyone wants to see it."
Dorsett is confident of his own abilities, but that doesn't mean a lack of respect for his father's accomplishments.

"I don't look at it as following in dad's footsteps, it's just living out a dream of mine, to play in the NFL," Dorsett said. "Sometimes I sit back and see what all he did and I'm amazed. But seeing him every day and living with him, it really didn't hit me how good he really was."

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