Essay On The Dallas Cowboys

Published: April 1, 2014 at 07:52 p.m.

Updated: May 21, 2015 at 03:58 p.m.

All-Time Team - Dallas Cowboys


From 1966 to 1985, the Dallas Cowboys had 20 straight winning seasons. That feat seems to have slipped into the nothing-that-happened-before-2000-is-relevant abyss -- but if you think about how incredible the accomplishment was, you realize this might be the NFL's preeminent franchise.

While the 1960s Packers, '70s Steelers, '80s 49ers and 2000s Patriots had their day, the fact remains that the Cowboys had two dynasties. There was that initial 20-year span of excellence, which featured five Super Bowl appearances. And who could forget the '90s, when Dallas became the first team to win three Super Bowls in a span of four years?

Is the Cowboys' dynasty the greatest of all? We'd love to hear your take; @HarrisonNFL is the place.

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    Charles Tasnadi/Associated Press

    Quarterback - Roger Staubach

    Often referred to as "Captain America," Staubach was arguably the best quarterback of the 1970s. He started four Super Bowls and was active for five, and he posted the best passer rating in the NFC in five different seasons. Staubach's 85-29 record as a starter is absolutely ridiculous.

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    National Football League

    Running back - Emmitt Smith

    Smith is the NFL's all-time leading rusher with 18,355 yards, and it's doubtful anyone else is going to even approach that number. Smith led the league in rushing in 1991, 1992, 1993 and 1995; he also won an NFL MVP award (in 1993) and was the MVP of Super Bowl XXVIII. Sorry, Tony.

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    National Football League

    Fullback - Walt Garrison

    This was the toughest choice on the roster, coming down to Garrison and Daryl "Moose" Johnston. Garrison was such an effective runner, posting seasons of 818 and 784 rushing yards from the fullback position. He also played in the 1970 NFC Championship Game with a broken collarbone, contributing 122 total yards and a touchdown catch to the Cowboys' win.

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    National Football League

    Wide receiver - Michael Irvin

    No surprise here. In 12 seasons, Irvin caught 750 passes -- the most ever by a Cowboys wide receiver -- and led the league in receiving yards per game twice. He also proved himself to be one of the best postseason performers in NFL history, topping 100 yards in six of his 16 playoff games.

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    Associated Press

    Wide receiver - Drew Pearson

    Deciding between Pearson and Bob Hayes was not easy. Although Hayes is in the Hall of Fame and Pearson is not, most Cowboys fans would take Pearson, who had 118 more catches. Pearson made the NFL's All-Decade Team of the 1970s and contributed some very clutch catches.

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    Ric Tapia/NFL

    Tight end - Jason Witten

    The Cowboys have had some phenomenal tight ends over the years, from Mike Ditka to Billy Joe DuPree, Doug Cosbie and Jay Novacek. Yet, with 943 career receptions and 10 Pro Bowls, Witten takes the cake. Only Tony Gonzalez was better in the Y2K era.

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    National Football League

    Offensive tackle - Rayfield Wright

    Wright finally got the call from Canton in his 22nd year of eligibility, and boy, was it deserved. He made six straight Pro Bowls from 1971 to 1976 and was named first-team All-Pro for the first three of those years -- and that was after beginning his career as a tight end.

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    National Football League

    Offensive tackle - Erik Williams

    There was a time when Williams was the best left tackle in pro football. He could dominate anyone, whether he was facing an unnamed rookie or Reggie White. Williams' career was interrupted by a car accident in 1994 -- and he went on to make the Pro Bowl three times after that.

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    National Football League

    Offensive guard - Larry Allen

    Next to John Hannah, Allen was probably the most dominant guard in NFL history -- and he might have been the strongest player ever, having once benched 700 pounds. Allen made the Pro Bowl 11 times and is in the Hall of Fame.

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    David Phillip/Associated Press

    Offensive guard - Nate Newton

    After being cut by the Redskins as an undrafted rookie and spending some time in the USFL, Newton landed with the Cowboys -- and he didn't make a single start in his first season. Hard work and perseverance paid off, however, as Newton went on to make six Pro Bowls and win three Super Bowl titles, all while in his 30s.

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    Tim Sharp/Associated Press

    Center - Mark Stepnoski

    An incredibly smart player, the undersized Stepnoski was one of the first big losses of the salary-cap era. He made three straight Pro Bowls from 1992 to 1994 before defecting to Houston, where he made two more. Stepnoski was a master at using leverage to open holes.

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    National Football League

    Defensive end - Ed "Too Tall" Jones

    Defensive end might have been the most stacked position on the Cowboys. With 15 seasons of service and three Pro Bowl appearances, Jones gets the nod here. He was the best in NFL history at batting away passes at the line, knocking down 16 in two different seasons.

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    Associated Press

    Defensive end - George Andrie

    Who nabs the other DE spot? Harvey Martin? Jim Jeffcoat? Charles Haley? We'll go with the largely unheralded Andrie, who made five straight Pro Bowls. He was also clutch, like when he scored a touchdown in the "Ice Bowl" and picked off a pass in the 1971 NFC Championship Game.

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    National Football League

    Defensive tackle - Bob Lilly

    Outside of Lawrence Taylor, Reggie White and Deacon Jones, Lilly was the best front-seven player in league history. Former 49ers coach Bill Walsh ranked him as the third-best player he ever saw. Lilly made 11 Pro Bowls and was named to the NFL's 75th Anniversary Team.

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    National Football League

    Defensive tackle - Randy White

    Unbelievably quick for a defensive tackle, White once ran down an Eagles wide receiver in 1979. He was the dominant defensive tackle of his era, making nine straight Pro Bowls from 1977 to 1985. "The Manster" was a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

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    Aaron M. Sprecher/NFL

    Outside linebacker - DeMarcus Ware

    This was maybe the most obvious choice on the list, although almost all outside linebackers in Cowboys history have been 4-3 OLBs. Ware has been the best 3-4 OLB -- league-wide -- of the Y2K era. In his nine years with the Cowboys, he posted 117 sacks in 141 games and made seven Pro Bowls.

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    Ferd Kaufman/Associated Press

    Outside linebacker - Chuck Howley

    This guy deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, plain and simple. Howley earned first-team All-Pro honors in five straight seasons and played at a high level into his late 30s. He's also the only Super Bowl MVP thus far to come from the losing team (in Super Bowl V).

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    National Football League

    Middle linebacker - Lee Roy Jordan

    One of the franchise's steadiest performers, Jordan was an outstanding middle linebacker in an era filled with greatness at the position. Though he had contemporaries like Ray Nitschke and Dick Butkus, Jordan made five Pro Bowl squads. He excelled in coverage.

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    National Football League

    Cornerback - Mel Renfro

    Among all the cornerbacks to have suited up in a Cowboys uniform, Renfro is second to none -- and you can count on one hand how many corners in NFL history were better. Renfro made 10 straight Pro Bowls. Even after Hall of Fame corner Herb Adderley joined the Cowboys, opposing quarterbacks still avoided throwing at Renfro.

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    National Football League

    Cornerback - Everson Walls

    You were expecting Deion Sanders here? Sorry, but Sanders' run in Dallas lasted five seasons, while Walls was with the Cowboys for nine. Walls also led the league in interceptions an NFL-record three times (in 1981, 1982 and 1985) -- and he picked off Joe Montana three times, too, including twice in the 1981 NFC Championship Game.

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    National Football League

    Safety - Cliff Harris

    Harris and Hall of Famer Ken Houston were the best safeties of the 1970s. Longtime Sports Illustrated writer Dr. Z once said Harris was the best cover man/hitter combo ever at the position. Harris retired after 10 seasons, having made six Pro Bowls in a row.

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    David Phillip/Associated Press

    Safety - Darren Woodson

    As the franchise's all-time top tackler, the consistent Woodson was a leader and a fierce competitor. He never accepted losing and was, essentially, a coach on the field. Woodson won three Super Bowls in Dallas and made five Pro Bowls.

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    Tim Sharp/Associated Press

    Kicker - Dan Bailey

    We know; Bailey has kicked in Dallas for just four years. But in that time, he has missed a grand total of 13 field-goal attempts. There are plenty of guys who miss almost that many in one year. He also has excellent range.

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    Tim Sharp/Associated Press

    Punter - Mat McBriar

    When it comes to statistics, no punter in Cowboys history can stand up to the Australian-born McBriar. He averaged 45.3 yards per boot during his time in Dallas; he also led the league in said category in 2006 and 2010.

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    Associated Press

    Returner - Bob Hayes

    "Bullet" Bob Hayes gets the nod here -- in an awfully tight decision -- over Deion Sanders and Mel Renfro. The fastest player in the NFL during his day, Hayes took three punts to the house while also averaging 25.3 yards per kick return.

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Last night on Monday Night Football the Dallas Cowboys, America’s Team, took a knee as one before the national anthem. The team later stood and locked arms for the anthem, but seeing the entire Cowboys team take a knee amidst the current furor happening around the NFL was a powerful gesture.

As you might imagine, the reaction to the Cowboys’ statement has been polarizing, as the entire debate around taking a knee during the national anthem has been across America. The president even specifically targeted the Cowboys in his trademark morning Twitterstorm Monday morning. But with the Cowboys’ actions last night, there was one voice that I was looking forward to hearing in giving his thoughts on the matter: Dallas sportscaster Dale Hansen.

In case you may not be aware of recent history, Hansen has delivered powerful essays whenever sports, politics, and culture intersect. You can see some of his previous essays here, here, and here on a variety of topics. Monday night, he turned his attention to the peaceful protests happening all around the NFL and gave his own perspective not just as a sportscaster, but as a Vietnam War veteran. No matter which side you’re on in this debate, stop and watch and listen to these words.

Hansen has always been willing to speak truth to power, no matter how popular his opinions may be or who might agree with him. And as Hansen says, perhaps it would be worth remembering why Colin Kaepernick took a knee in the first place and what this is really all about.


About Matt Yoder

Award winning sportswriter at The Comeback and Awful Announcing. The biggest cat in the whole wide world.

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