One of my favorite blogs, due in large part to its originality, is Best Athletes by the Numbers. The author of that site has created a list of the best athletes to wear each jersey number, from one to 99. He is currently working on a list of the greatest NFL players by numbers.
Here are the Cowboys on his list:
#33 Tony Dorsett (ahead of Kareem Abdul Jabbar!)
Over the next several weeks, I am going to post a list of all of the players in Dallas history who have worn each jersey number. Given that nearly 900 players have played for the Cowboys, this should be some list. The posts will allow site visitors to vote for the best player wearing each number. Some criteria are appropriate:
(1) Statistics: Obviously, these only show so much, but stats give us an objective measure of the quality of each player.
(2) Accolades: Obviously awards that each player received should be taken into account. This may include Pro Bowl appearances, number of times that the player was named all-pro, all-decade teams, Hall of Fame, Ring of Honor, etc.
(3) Longevity: I think that the length of service is important. For instance, Herb Adderley may be the best NFL player to wear #26, but is this enough to give him the nod over Kevin Smith?
(4) Intangibles: Some players (Bill Bates, for example) simply gave more to the Cowboys than others.
With that introduction, let’s turn our attention to jersey #1:
Five players in team history have worn #1, including the team’s current Pro Bowl punter. This one may be close. Here are our candidates, listed in chronological order:
1. Efren Herrera, K, UCLA, 1974, 1976-1977
Statistics: In three seasons with Dallas, Herrera made 44 of 65 field goals (67.7%).
Accolades: He was a two-time All-Pro with Dallas and made the Pro Bowl once (1977).
Longevity: Dallas traded Herrera after the Super Bowl year in 1977 due to a contract dispute. He played for Seattle for several years before finishing up his NFL career in Buffalo. He also played a season in the USFL.
Intangibles: Herrera was a quality kicker but not usually as highly regarded as his replacement.
2. Rafael Septien, K, Southwest Louisiana, 1978-1986
Statistics: In nine seasons with Dallas, Septien made 74.3% of his field goals. He was nearly automatic from inside the 40.
Accolades: He was named all-pro and to the Pro Bowl one time (1981).
Longevity: Septien had the longest tenure of any Dallas kicker.
Intangibles: As a player, Septien was a very valuable member of some good Dallas teams. As a person, he was charged with indecency with a child and sentenced to 10 years deferred probation. Tough not to hold this against him (especially for those of us with children), but his record as a football player is still strong.
3. Kerry Brady, K, Hawaii, 1987 (replacement player)
Statistics: As a replacement player in 1987, Brady made an extra point.
Longevity: One game. He played briefly for Indianapolis and Buffalo in 1988 and 1989.
Intangibles: Replacement player. Enough said.
4. Ken Willis, K, Kentucky, 1990-91
Statistics: In two seasons as the Cowboys kicker, Willis made 45 of 64 field goal attempts (70.3%).
Longevity: He lasted two seasons in Dallas before being moving on to Tampa Bay.
Intangibles: Willis was a serviceable kicker on the Cowboys’ playoff team in 1991. He really did not stand out other than that, however.
5. Mat McBriar, P, Hawaii, 2004-2011 (Updated 5/2012)
Statistics: In eight seasons with Dallas, McBriar averaged 45.3 yards per punt. By comparison, Danny White averaged 40.2.
Accolades: McBriar was named to the Pro Bowl in 2006 and 2010.
Longevity: Dallas signed McBriar as an undrafted free agent in 2004, and he may be the greatest punter in team history already. In February 2007, he signed a five-year contract extension. Two of his seasons ended due to injury, and the team released him after the 2011 season.
Intangibles: McBriar is known not only for his booming kicks, but also for his ability to place the ball inside an opponent’s 10-yard line.
Here are the results of the poll for this number:
- Mat McBriar (59%, 136 Votes)
- Rafael Septien (31%, 72 Votes)
- Efren Herrera (7%, 16 Votes)
- Kerry Brady (3%, 8 Votes)
- Ken Willis (0%, 0 Votes)
Total Voters: 232
If you still want to vote, please make a comment below.
My Vote: McBriar
I am one who is more likely to pick a classic player than a current player. However, I think that McBriar already deserves the honor over Septien. Both have the same number of awards, and I have no doubt that once McBriar has played as long as Septien, he will be held in higher regard (assuming he stays out of trouble).