As many of you know, I am a proud fan of the Dallas Cowboys. Not to sound cliche, but it is what it is. As a fan, I observe both the present as well as the past. I must say, that collectively we have a rich legacy. In spite of the recent shortcomings, I am still faithful to my franchise. A true fan is someone who sticks with their team and is honest about them whether good or bad. Anyone who stopped supporting Dallas after Tom Landry left, to me is not a real Cowboys fan. (My Dad is one of them) That bothers me because that shows that you were a fan for that one reason. Things do not last forever, including a legendary 29-year reign. Landry’s run was very historic, as the Cowboys were the toast of the NFC during the 70’s which was their first prominent period in the history of the organization. Under Coach Landry’s administration, the Cowboys won 2 Super Bowls, 5 NFC Championships, and numerous Division Titles. Once Landry’s tenure ended, another Era was on the way as Jerry Jones hired his college roommate Jimmy Johnson as the New Head Coach. Under Johnson’s reign, Dallas went from being 1-15 in 1989 to Super Bowl Champions at 13-3 in 1992. That is one of the quickest turnarounds for a franchise in NFL History. Dallas went from being a doormat to a Dynasty during Johnson’s five seasons as they won back to back SuperBowls.

Disclaimer: This list was VERY hard to construct. There have been many great names who can make a case for the Top 10. Top 50 would have been much harder. I hope you enjoy.
Now, I would like to Countdown the Greatest Cowboys of All-Time in my view.
Seasons: 15 (13 in Dallas)
Carries: 4,409 (4,052 with Cowboys)
Rushing Yards: 18,355 (17,162 with Cowboys/Franchise Record)
Touchdowns: 175 (164 with Cowboys/Franchise Record)
1990 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year
1993 NFL AP MVP
1993 Bert Bell Award (Player of the Year)
Super Bowl Champion (XXVII, XXVIII, XXX)
Super Bowl XXVIII MVP
Pro Bowl Selections: 8
All-Pro Selections: 6
4x NFL Rushing Champion (’91, ’92, ’93, ’95)
3x NFL Rushing Touchdown Leader (’92, ’94, ’95)
NFL 1990’s All-Decade Team
Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor Inductee (2005)
Pro Football Hall of Fame Inductee (2010)
Emmitt Smith was the engine for the Cowboys Dynasty in the 90’s. His name is written across both the Dallas Cowboys Record Books and the NFL Record Books. Smith is one of the most Iconic players in Cowboys History. There is no denying the impact that Emmitt made and his significance to the legacy of Dallas. His longevity, consistency, and vision are what helped him make up for what he may have lacked in mind-blowing athleticism. Watching highlights of Emmitt Smith run in the Glory Days of Dallas is always a thrill for me as a Cowboys fan. It was almost like Poetry in Motion. Smith was one of the smoothest runners I have seen. He also carried the right intensity when faced with enough resistance. Emmitt is the only player in Cowboys History to win the NFL MVP Award in 1993. People may knock Smith for his Offensive Line, but he also knew how to fight for the necessary yardage. Smith’s ability to see the holes was a great quality for him even when the Offensive Line broke down (which was rare). Smith personified a marathon running back as his longevity and conditioning helped him reach the NFL Rushing Mountain. For my choice, Emmitt Smith the symbol of Dallas when I think of the Cowboys. His body of work speaks for itself. It might seem controversial, but others will understand. In this case, Emmitt Smith is “Mr. Cowboy”.
Seasons: 11
Completions: 1,685
Attempts: 2,985
Percentage: 57%
Passing Yards: 22,700
Touchdowns: 153
Interceptions: 109
QB Rating: 83.4
2x Super Bowl Champion (VI, XII)
Super Bowl VI MVP
5x NFC Champion (’70, ’71, ’75, ’77, ’78)
Pro-Bowl Selections: 6
AP All-NFC Selections: 2
NFC Player of the Year (1971)
1971 Bert Bell MVP Award
NFL 1970’s All-Decade Team
Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor Inductee (1983)
Pro Football Hall of Fame Inductee (1985)
NFL 75th Anniversary Team
“Captain Comeback”, “Roger The Dodger”. These are some of the titles that symbolize how great Roger Staubach was. Staubach was the Captain when it came to engineering a Comeback for the Cowboys when their back was against the wall. Roger was the gunslinger that the City of Dallas looked to in their time of trouble. When you were in a dangerous spot, you knew that Roger was the guy that would save the game. Roger was the prototype for the clean cut American Quarterback to be the face of “America’s Team”. Staubach was the Dodger because of how he was able to elude the Defensive Pass Rush that came his way. Roger was very elusive for his time as his scrambling ability and rocket arm made for a dangerous combination. Staubach was one of the pillars for the Cowboys initial success in the 70’s. He took them from being bridesmaids in the 60’s to World Champs the next decade. Roger put Dallas on the map for Super Bowl success. Staubach was one of the top tier QB’s of his Era with Terry Bradshaw, Fran Tarkenton, and Ken Stabler to name a few. He won the Bert Bell MVP Award to go along with 5 NFC Titles and 2 Super Bowl Titles. To this day, Roger is still Dallas Royalty. Over time, I have learned to appreciate the importance and significance of Roger Staubach. Troy Aikman may have broken his records, but Roger will always be a symbol of excellence that cannot be ignored.

3.

href=”http://espn.go.com/dallas/photos/gallery/_/id/7356790/image/49/3-bob-lilly-50-greatest-cowboys”>Bob Lilly

Seasons: 14
Pro-Bowls: 11
All-Pro Selections: 7 (All First-Team)
NFL 1960’s All-Decade Team
First Player Drafted by Dallas Cowboys
Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor Inductee
Super Bowl Champion (VI)
Cowboys Ring of Honor (1975)
Pro Football Hall of Fame Inductee (1980)
Bob Lilly was the Building Block on Defense the same way that Roger Staubach was the Building Block on Offense. Lilly is still called “Mr. Cowboy” because he was the first player that the team has ever drafted in 1961. In an Era with the likes of Deacon Jones and others, Bob Lilly was one of the best Pass Rushers of that time. His impact on the front seven was tremendous. Lilly was the Anchor for the Cowboys Defense before passing the torch to Randy White. In his 14 Seasons, Bob was part of the first Super Bowl Championship team (1971). He was also a member of 11 Pro-Bowl teams and made the All-Pro Team 7 times. Each of Bob’s All-Pro selections was First-Team. Lilly joined the Cowboys Ring of Honor in 1975, the year after his retirement. He was inducted into the NFL HOF in 1980.
4. Troy Aikman
Seasons: 12
Completions: 2,898
Attempts: 4,715
Percentage: 61.5%
Passing Yards: 32,942
Touchdowns: 165
Interceptions: 141
QB Rating: 81.6
Super Bowl Champion (XXVII, XVIII, XXX)
Super Bowl MVP (XXVII)
3x NFC Champion (’92, ’93, ’95)
Pro-Bowl Selections: 6
Sporting News First-Team All-Pro (1993)
All-NFC Second Team (1994, 1995)
Walter Payton Man of the Year (1996)
Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor Inductee (2005)
Pro Football Hall of Fame Inductee (2006)
Troy Aikman was the general of the Cowboys Offense during the 90’s in the Heyday of the Triplets. Aikman was the head, Emmitt was the Body, Irvin was the Heart. Together, they formed a lethal combination. After a rough rookie start at 0-15, Aikman turned things around. Dallas went from 1-15 to 13-3 in four seasons. The chemistry that Aikman had with receivers like Michael Irvin along with Tight End Jay Novacek was phenomenal. 1992 was Aikman’s finest campaign. That season, he completed 302 out 473 passes for 3,445 yards and 23 Touchdowns for a 13-3 Cowboys Squad. Dallas won Super Bowl XXVII that season as they wiped out the Buffalo Bills 52-17. Aikman won Super Bowl MVP. At the time of his retirement, Troy held at least 40 different Cowboys records.
5. Randy White
Seasons: 14
Career Solo Tackles: 701
Career Combined Tackles: 1,104
Pro-Bowl Selections: 9
All-Pro Selections: 8
Super Bowl Champion (XII)
Co-Super Bowl MVP (XII)
3x NFC Champion (’75, ’77, ’78)
NFL Defensive Player of the Year: 1978
NFL Defensive Lineman of the Year: 1982
Cowboys Ring of Honor (1994)
Pro Football HOF (1994)
Half-Man, Half-Monster. When you put it together, you get the “Manster”. Randy White was a terrorizer Defensively and the Anchor of the Cowboys “Doomsday Defense”. White was a dangerous combination of Strength and Speed. He was DPOY as well as Lineman of the Year. Randy was one of the best Pass Rushers of his Era with the way that he shed blockers to take down opposing QB’s. White was the Co-Super Bowl MVP with Harvey Martin at Super Bowl XII. Randy made 9 Pro-Bowls and 8 All-Pro Selections. At the time of his retirement, White was the Cowboys All-Time Leader in Career Solo Tackles and Combined Tackles. He went into the Cowboys Ring of Honor and Pro Football HOF in the same year of 1994.

6.

href=”http://espn.go.com/dallas/photos/gallery/_/id/7356790/image/44/8-michael-irvin-50-greatest-cowboys”>Michael Irvin
Seasons: 12
Receptions: 750
Receiving Yards: 11,904
Touchdowns: 65
Pro-Bowls: 5
Super Bowl Champion (XXVII, XXVIII, XXX)
3x NFC Champion (’92, ’93, ’95)
Pro-Bowl Selections: 5
All-Pro Teams: 1
Cowboys All-Time Leader in Receiving Yards
Cowboys Ring of Honor (2005)
Pro-Football Hall of Fame (2007)

The Heart of the Triplets. In Dallas, Michael Irvin continues to reign as King of Wide Receivers. Drew Pearson was the first to be a Star with 88, but the Playmaker took that number to a completely different level. Irvin redefined the Wide Receiver position in Dallas and rewrote the team’s record book for Receivers. Michael was one of the premiere Wide Outs of his Generation in a time where you had stars like Jerry Rice, Cris Carter, Tim Brown and others while future stars like Randy Moss and Terrell Owens would follow. Michael was the perfect target for Troy to throw to, and their chemistry was among the best that the NFL had to offer. If Michael did not play in the same Offense as the All-Time Rushing Leader (Emmitt Smith), I believe that his numbers would be better. Smith was just the most valuable option. However, Irvin was a serious threat for whoever had to cover him because of his physicality. Michael had the mouth and attitude, but he backed up what he said. The Playmaker was the lead WR in 3 Cowboys Super Bowl Victories during their most dominant Era as a Franchise. At the time of his retirement, Michael Irvin was the Cowboys All-Time Leader in Receptions and Receiving Yards. Irvin joined his fellow Triplets in the Cowboys Ring of Honor in 2005, as he finally made it into the Hall of Fame in 2007.
7. Tony Dorsett
Seasons: 12 (11 in Dallas)
Carries:2,936
Rushing Yards: 12,739
Touchdowns: 92
NFL AP Offensive Rookie of the Year (1977)
Super Bowl Champion (XII)
2x NFC Champion (’77, ’78)
Pro-Bowls: 4
First-Team All-Pro: (1981)
Cowboys Ring of Honor (1994)
Pro Football HOF (1994)
Tony Dorsett was like a Rocket when he ran from the line of Scrimmage. He still holds the record for longest run in a single game (99 Yards). Tony won back to back Championships in College and the Pros. In 1977, he won a National Championship with the University of Pittsburgh and won the Super Bowl with the Dallas Cowboys the next year. Dorsett has been to Four Pro-Bowls and been on 1 First-Team All-Pro Team. In an era with players like Walter Payton and Franco Harris, Dorsett carved his name as one of the premier Running Backs of his time. Tony was the face of the Cowboys during the 80’s in the lean years following Roger Staubach’s retirement. At the time of his retirement, Tony was the Cowboys All-Time Leading Rusher. Dorsett made the HOF and Ring of Honor in the same year (1994).
8. Mel Renfro
Seasons: 14
Interceptions: 52
Interception Yards: 626
Interception TD’s: 3
Super Bowl Champion (VI, XII)
Pro-Bowl Selections: 10
All-Pro Teams: 5
Pro-Bowl Co-MVP (1970)
Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor (1981)
Pro Football Hall of Fame (1996)
This man was the Premiere Cornerback for the Dallas Cowboys Doomsday Defense. Mel Renfro was a revolutionary defender in the backfield for the Cowboys Defense. What Bob Lilly was to the Front Line, Mel Renfro was to the Secondary. Renfro was a multi-threat as he also returned punts and kicks. Mel led the NFL in punt and kick return yardage, but Defensive Back is where he was able to shine the brightest. Renfro was incredibly fast for that time, as his 4.65 40 yard dash speed was a great asset for him during the defensive coverage. Mel is still the Cowboys All-Time Leader in INT’s with 52. He has been a staple for the Cowboys throughout their run of greatness in the 70’s. Renfro was inducted into the Cowboys Ring of Honor in 1981. 15 years later, he was inducted into the Pro Football HOF in 1996.
9. Darren Woodson
Seasons: 13
Cowboys All-Time Leader in Tackles: 1,350
Interceptions: 23
Super Bowl Champion (XXVII, XXVIII, XXX)
NFC Champion (’92, ’93, ’95)
Pro-Bowl Selections: 5
All-Pro Selections: 3
Bart Starr Man of the Year Award (2001)
Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor (2015)
The model of loyalty and consistency. Toughness and Professionalism. Darren Woodson was a quiet assassin for the Cowboys Defense during his 13 years of service in Big D. Woodson was able to enjoy the success of the Cowboys Dynasty during the Triplets Era as he was a rookie during their first Super Bowl win. Darren put strength in the Strong Safety Position as he hit harder than someone his size. He was also very effective in coverage. Woodson was a very smart defender that was very easily shaken up. Along with three Super Bowl titles, he also has five Pro-Bowl Selections with three All-Pro Selections. As a testament to his consistency as a player, Darren Woodson is also the Dallas Cowboys All-Time Leader in Tackles (1,350). That is fascinating considering the many great legends to wear the Star like Randy White, DeMarcus Ware, and Lee Roy Jordan to name a few. Woodson was one of the unsung heroes on the Cowboys Defense as he did not receive the accolades that Offensive Studs like Emmitt Smith, Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin did. In the end, he was a staple on Defense that had a great impact for the Cowboys.
10. Larry Allen
Seasons: 14 (12 with Dallas)
Games Played: 203
Games Started: 197
Super Bowl Champion (XXX)
NFC Champion (1995)
Pro-Bowl Selections: 11
All-Pro Selections: 7
NFL 1990’s All-Decade Team
NFL 2000’s All-Decade Team
Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor
Pro Football Hall of Fame (2013)

Larry Allen was an absolute pillar for the Cowboys Offensive Line from the 90’s going into the 2000’s. He was selected as a member of the NFL All-Decade Teams for both of those decades. His blocking was absolutely outstanding as Emmitt Smith knows from experience. Larry held his own against the best Defensive Linemen the NFL had to offer during his career. From Reggie White to Michael Strahan, Larry was not fazed. His significance to the Offensive Line was instrumental for the overall success of the Cowboys Offense, which is enough to rank him among the all-time greats. Allen’s blocking skills were enough for him to receive 11 Pro-Bowl Selections, 7 All-Pro Selections, and a Super Bowl victory. Larry’s body of work was enough to make him a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2013.

Honorable Mentions: Lee Roy Jordan, Drew Pearson, Bob Hayes, DeMarcus Ware

Vaughn Resper Jr.

Spark Sports NFL Analyst

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