Even to this day, Muleshoe’s Class 3A state semifinal game at Cowboys Stadium in 2000 seems surreal to Danny Ramirez, the team’s star running back.
“I remember thinking of all my favorite Cowboys’ moments that occurred in that very stadium over the years, in particular the dynasty of the early nineties,” said Ramirez, who works for a defense contractor as intelligence analyst in the Washington, D.C., area, where he lives with his wife and daughter. “I grew up watching those championship years and here I was about to play on the very same field where NFL champions played.
“As an added bonus, my father had never attended a Cowboys game, so being that his first game at Texas Stadium was a Mules game made it even more memorable.”
Muleshoe lost 41-17 to eventual state champion Forney, the Mules’ only loss during a 14-1 campaign that jumpstarted what is now a South Plains dynasty.
Ramirez, whose whirling dervish running style produced more than 2,000 yards that season, was a threat to score every time he touched the ball, especially on punt and kickoff returns.
He said he crafted his running style by watching Emmitt Smith and Barry Sanders highlight reels.
“I can’t really say I developed the style, I think I just tried to replicate what I saw those two backs do,” Ramirez said. “In fact many times the moves were ad hoc, I didn’t really think about it much or planned my moves. I had a sense of where daylight was and just ran to it as quick as possible.”
Ramirez turned down a couple of Division II offers to play football and enrolled at the University of New Mexico to focus on a career in architecture.
The itch to play football returned in the spring semester and he made the team as a walk-on. Though his play was limited to special teams, he lettered for three years and played in three bowl games.
Ramirez continued to dodge danger after his playing days.
He spent four years as an intelligence analyst in the Army, which included a one-year-employment to Iraq, and will be deployed as a defense contractor to Afghanistan for a third time later this year.
“I sincerely enjoy the work that I do and appreciate working with/for the people that I support,”said Ramirez, whose wife Lindsey is the daughter of longtime Clovis school teachers Keith and Peggy Ingram. “Despite being away from my family for months at a time, I feel like I am contributing to something meaningful and worthwhile.”
— Rick White