This is the another entry in my series of Top 5 players of each NFL franchise and I’m going with America’s Team The Dallas Cowboys. I will release these sporadically throughout the rest of the season and cover all teams this year. Check out all the articles on The Buzz and give me your feedback and give me your lists. Dallas is arguably the biggest sports franchise in professional sports and with help from my dad (a lifelong Cowboys fan) we came up with this list. Let’s get it going!
Danny White, P/QB, (1976-1988)
This guy was incredible. How many teams nowadays have a Punter who is the heir apparent to a QB let alone a legendary one. White held the punting job from 1976 through 1984, averaging a career-best 41.7 yards in 1979 with 21 downed inside the 20 and a long of 73 yards. Replacing legendary QB Roger Staubach, White was better known for what he did as a signal-caller after Staubach’s retirement. As a starting quarterback, he took the Cowboys to three NFC Championship Games and finished with 155 touchdown passes.
Deion Sanders, CB, (1995-1999)
Deion Sanders was named to the Pro Bowl in four of his five seasons in Dallas and was an All-Pro pick all five seasons. He was named to the NFL’s 1990s All-Decade team. In 2011, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He had 14 of his 53 career interceptions while in Dallas, and teams rarely threw in his direction. He was also a dynamic returner and even contributed as a receiver, catching 36 passes in 1996. “Prime Time” was one of the most electrifying players in not only Dallas Cowboys’ history but NFL history.
Jason Witten, TE, (2003-2017, 2019)
Jason Witten has been to the Pro Bowl 11 times, tied for the most in team history, and was a two-time All-Pro. He was named the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year in 2012. Nobody has played in more seasons, played more games, caught more passes, or had more receiving yards in franchise history than Witten. He missed one game in his career, with a broken jaw as a rookie in 2003. He set the NFL record for catches in a season by a tight end with 110 in 2012, which has since been broken. He has four 1,000-yard seasons. Only Tony Gonzalez has more catches and yards as a tight end in NFL history. Witten is still playing today for the Las Vegas Raiders.
5.) Larry Allen, G, (1994-2005)
Larry Allen was named to the Pro Bowl in 10 of his 12 seasons with the Cowboys and was a seven-time All-Pro. He is a member of the Cowboys’ Ring of Honor and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2013. He’s arguably the best and strongest guard to ever play. He could play every spot on the offensive line besides center. He was an absolute beast on the offensive line and some argue he’s among the best offensive lineman ever.
4.) Michael Irvin, WR, (1988-1999)
Michael Irvin was a five-time Pro Bowl selection and was named an All-Pro in 1991. He is a member of the Cowboys’ Ring of Honor and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007. He was the heartbeat of the Cowboys’ three Super Bowl teams of the 1990s. At the time of his retirement, which came earlier than expected because of a neck injury, he was the franchise leader in receptions (750) and yards (11,904). He had seven 1,000-yard seasons and six 100-yard games in the playoffs. Imagine if his career hadn’t ended prematurely. WOW.
3.) Troy Aikman, QB, (1989-2000)
Troy Aikman was a six-time Pro Bowl pick and the MVP of Super Bowl XXVII. In 1997, he was named the NFL’s Man of the Year. He is a member of the Cowboys’ Ring of Honor and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006. He finished his career with 32,942 yards on 2,898-of-4,715 passing with 165 touchdowns and 141 interceptions. He could have compiled more prolific stats but understood winning was more important and he had the best RB in history in his backfield. Troy is for sure one of the greatest Cowboys of all time.
2.) Roger Staubach, QB, (1969-1979)
Roger Staubach was a six-time Pro Bowl pick and MVP of Super Bowl VI. In 1978, he was named the NFL’s Man of the Year. He is a member of the Cowboys’ Ring of Honor and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985. Staubach invented the “Hail Mary” and he led the Cowboys to the playoffs in all but one of his seasons as the true starting quarterback. He led the franchise to two Super Bowl wins and four title game appearances. He was known as the king of the late-game heroics with 23 fourth-quarter comeback victories, including 14 in the final two minutes of regulation or overtime. Then we get to #1.
1.) Emmitt Smith, RB, (1990-2002)
The best running in NFL history PERIOD. Smith was an eight-time Pro Bowl pick and was named a first-team All-Pro from 1992 to ’95. He became the NFL’s all-time leading rusher with the Cowboys, breaking Walter Payton’s record. In 1993, he was the NFL’s Most Valuable Player and the MVP of Super Bowl XXVIII. He was a four-time rushing champ. In 1990, he was named the NFL’s Rookie of the Year. He is a member of the Cowboys’ Ring of Honor and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010. He had 11 1,000-yard seasons, an NFL record, and had 164 rushing touchdowns, an NFL record. He was also dangerous as a pass-catcher (515 receptions, 3,224 yards, 11 TDs) in his pro career. He was terrific in the postseason as well, rushing for 1,586 yards and scoring 21 touchdowns in 17 games. He delivered no matter what and that’s the mark of a great player no matter when whether regular season, the playoffs, or the Super Bowl Emmitt Smith delivered which is why he is my greatest Dallas Cowboy of all time.