Greatest Cowboys By Their Jersey Numbers: #21

Part of the Greatest Players by Number Series

Jersey #21

Ten players have worn #21, including four running backs, two receivers, and four defensive backs.

Note: Safety Lynn Scott wore #21 in 2001 and 2002 but later changed to #38. Derek Ross wore #20 in 2002 but changed to #21 in 2003.

David Adams, RB, Arizona, 1987

Statistics: Adams rushed seven times for 49 yards as a replacement player in 1987.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He lasted three games as a replacement player in 1987.

Intangibles: Adams was a 12th round draft pick of the Indianapolis Colts in 1987. His only NFL experience, though, was during the strike games.

Dick Daniels, S, Pacific, Ore., 1966-68

Statistics: Daniels had two interceptions as a member of the Cowboys.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: Daniels played three seasons with the Cowboys and started a total of eight games.

Intangibles: Daniels played safety and returned kicks. He later played for the Chicago Bears.

Doug Dennison, RB, Kutztown State, 1974-78

Statistics: Dennison rushed for 1112 yards and scored 19 touchdowns for the Cowboys.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: Dennison played with the Cowboys for a total of five seasons. However, once Tony Dorsett arrived in 1977, Dennison saw little action.

Intangibles: Dennison played during the period of time between Calvin Hill and Tony Dorsett, and during this time the Cowboys did not have a dominant running back. Dennison still stands out in one way: his 19 touchdowns on 302 career carries (6.2%) tops Marion Barber’s career mark thus far (29 TDs on 477 attempts, or 6.0%).

Glynn Gregory, WR/DB, Southern Methodist, 1961-62

Statistics: Gregory was something of a Deion Sanders of his day (okay, not quite). He caught six passes for 100 yards and had one career interception.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: Gregory lasted two seasons with Dallas.

Intangibles: I found an article about Gregory in the Dallas Morning News, focusing on a reunion at Abiline High School. As a Cowboy, though, I don’t know much about him.

Mark Higgs, RB, Kentucky, 1988

Statistics: Higgs had two kickoff returns as a member of the Cowboys.

Accolades: None with Dallas.

Longevity: Higgs played in only five games with Dallas during the 1988 season.

Intangibles: Higgs is much better remembered as a member of the Miami Dolphins, where he twice rushed for more than 900 yards. As a member of the Cowboys, he simply did not do much.

Carl Howard, CB, Rutgers, 1984

Statistics: Howard never recorded an interception as a member of the Cowboys.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: Howard played in ten games with Dallas in 1984. He played several seasons with the New York Jets.

Intangibles: None to note.

Julius Jones, RB, Notre Dame, 2004-07

Statistics: Jones rushed for 3,484 yards and 18 touchdowns with the Cowboys. He gained 1,084 yards in 2006, becoming the first Dallas player other than Emmitt Smith to rush for more than 1,000 in a season since Hershel Walker in 1988.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: Jones played four seasons with Dallas. He signed with Seattle this offseason.

Intangibles: Jones at times looked like he could be a franchise back. However, he did not always seem to read holes very well and did not break tackles regularly. Marion Barber emerged as the better running back in 2006 and 2007.

Billy Parks, WR, Cal. St. Long Beach, 1972

Statistics: Parks caught 18 passes for 298 yards with one touchdown with the Cowboys.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: Dallas acquired Parks in a trade with San Diego in 1972. He lasted only one season before being shipped to Houston in 1973 in a trade that allowed Dallas to select Too Tall Jones in 1974.

Intangibles: Parks was a bit liberal for Tom Landry’s taste and did not last long in Dallas. His best game as a pro came as a member of the Cowboys, though, when he caught seven passes for 125 yards and a touchdown in a 30-28 win by the Cowboys over San Francisco in the 1972 NFL playoffs (i.e., Roger’s first miracle).

Derek Ross, CB, Ohio State, 2002-03

Statistics: Ross had a total of six interceptions with the Cowboys. He also returned kickoffs, averaging 24.1 yards per return.

Accolades: None, other than Waste of Talent.

Longevity: Ross played well as a rookie in 2002 but ran into problems in 2003. Bill Parcells released him ten games into that season.

Intangibles: Ross and Antonio Bryant were part of a solid 2002 draft, but both caused more problems than they were worth. Ross played briefly for Atlanta and Minnesota, but he was out of the league after the 2004 season.

Deion Sanders, CB/WR, Florida State, 1995-99

Statistics: Sanders had 14 interceptions as a member of the Cowboys, along with three defensive touchdowns (2 from picks, one from a fumble recovery). He averaged 13.3 yards per punt return and returned four punts for touchdowns. He also caught 49 regular season passes for 624 yards as a receiver.

Accolades: Sanders made the Pro Bowl four times and was named All Pro three times as a member of the Cowboys.

Longevity: He lasted five seasons for the Cowboys.

Intangibles: Like him or not (I didn’t at first, then did), Sanders was simply amazing. He made the Dallas defense one of the best in the league during the second half of the 1990s because he could take away half of the field (either because he was just too talented or because his reputation was just too good that teams would not test him). Dallas paid a steep price for him in 1995, given the salary cap limitations at the time, but if it weren’t for Sanders, I don’t think Dallas would have won Super Bowl XXX in 1995.


Here are the results of the poll for this number:

Greatest #21

  • Deion Sanders (96%, 249 Votes)
  • Billy Parks (2%, 4 Votes)
  • Julius Jones (2%, 4 Votes)
  • Doug Dennison (1%, 3 Votes)
  • Derek Ross (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Carl Howard (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Mark Higgs (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Glynn Gregory (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Dick Daniels (0%, 0 Votes)
  • David Adams (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 260

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If you still want to vote, please make a comment below.

My Vote: Sanders

Deion SandersI was as pleased about Dallas signing Deion in 1995 as I was about the Cowboys signing Terrell Owens (i.e., not very). But it did not take long during the 1995 season to warm up to the idea of having Sanders on the team. He continued to make plays throughout the rest of the decade and is one of the most memorable players ever to wear a Dallas uniform.

  • JOSE S.


  • Fred Goodwin

    I voted for Sanders, too.

    I was too young to know anything about Gregory, but I remember Parks, Dennison and Jones, and their contributions don’t compare to Deion’s.

    Like him or not, Deion has to be the choice for the best player to wear #21 for the Cowboys.

  • We’re talking about a man among boys in this discussion.

    I wish Deion had not injured the toe and he hadn’t defected to the Redskins, but I was also a hater when he came.

    In fact, he was one of my most hated players out there, particularly when he went to San Francisco.

    But, he grew on me as a Cowboy … surprisingly, the same way T.O. has.

  • Rod Watson

    This one is almost as easy as number 20 to decide. During his stint with the Cowboys there was no cornerback in the league that could match Deion’s big play ability. In ’95, and ’96 he went entire games without the opposition throwing a ball to his side, that is the definition of a “shut down corner” in my book.

  • Deion was unmatched in his play making ability and he still had quite a bit of juice left in the tank when he came to the Cowboys. He simply redefined how a defense could be played using him one on one and eliminating 1 player from the offense. Julius was a pretty good #21 but Deion may have been the greatest #21 in league history.

  • Fred Goodwin

    Can he be like Deion? Pacman to wear No. 21

    Star-Telegram Staff Writer

    Suspended Dallas Cowboys cornerback Pacman Jones will wear jersey No. 21 when and if he’s reinstated by the NFL.

    He’s drawing comparisons to his good friend, Deion “Prime Time” Sanders, who also wore No. 21, so it might just be a good fit.