Greatest Cowboys By Their Jersey Numbers: #26

Part of the Greatest Players by Number Series

Jersey #26

Ten players have worn #26, including seven defensive backs, two running backs, and a wide receiver.

Note: This was recently updated to include Aaron Glenn, who was inadvertently omitted from the original list.

Herb Adderley, CB, Michigan State, 1970-72

Statistics: Adderley had nine interceptions with the Cowboys, including six in 1971.

Accolades: He is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, due mostly to his play with the Green Bay Packers.

Longevity: Adderley joined the Cowboys in 1970 and played three seasons.

Intangibles: He was an important part of two Super Bowl teams. He was quick, had great coverage skills, and was a solid tackler. Bart Starr called the greatest corner to ever play the game.

Andrew Davison, CB, Kansas, 2003

Statistics: He played in four games but did not record any statistics.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: Four games.

Intangibles: Nothing worth noting.

Buddy Dial, WR, Rice, 1964-66

Statistics: Dial caught 42 passes for 713 yards and 2 TDs with Dallas.

Accolades: None with Dallas.

Longevity: Dial lasted three seasons with the Cowboys.

Intangibles: He was never as good with Dallas as he was with the Pittsburgh Steelers. This was due in large part to a leg injury he suffered in 1964 after he first arrived. He averaged 21.6 yards per catch with Pittsburgh but only 17.0 with far fewer opportunities in Dallas.

Michael Downs, S, Rice, 1981-88

Statistics: Downs had 34 interceptions with the Cowboys.

Accolades: He earned All-NFC honors in 1984.

Longevity: Downs played eight seasons in Dallas, ending with Tom Landry’s final season.

Intangibles: Downs and Everson Walls were two of the best free agent (i.e., not drafted) signings that Dallas ever made, and they both played in the Dallas secondary at the same time. Downs was a great playmaker.

Aaron Glenn, CB, Texas A&M, 2005-06

Statistics: Glenn recorded five interceptions with the Cowboys.

Accolades: None with Dallas.

Longevity: He lasted two seasons with Dallas before being cut during preseason in 2007.

Intangibles: Glenn appeared to have slowed down during preseason in 2007, leading to his release. Fans immediately questioned the wisdom of the move, however, after injuries to Terence Newman and Anthony Henry kept them out of action early in the season. Glenn played in five games for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2007.

Ken Hamlin, S, Arkansas, 2007-

Statistics: Hamlin has recorded five interceptions with Dallas.

Accolades: He made the Pro Bowl in 2007.

Longevity: Hamlin has played one season for Dallas.

Intangibles: He filled an important role with the Cowboys at free safety. He was a better tackler than fellow safety Roy Williams, and he was very good in coverage. Dallas kept him by slapping the franchise tag on him.

Paul Palmer, RB, Temple, 1989

Statistics: Palmer rushed for 446 yards and 2 TDs with Dallas.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: Palmer lasted part of one season in Dallas.

Intangibles: Palmer is the answer to the trivia question: who replaced Hershel Walker after the Cowboys-Vikings trade in 1989. The former first-round pick for the Chiefs had one great run (63 yards vs. the Chiefs), but he otherwise provided little.

Preston Pearson, RB, Illinois, 1975-80

Statistics: Pearson rushed for 1207 yards with Dallas and had 2274 yards receiving.

Accolades: None with Dallas.

Longevity: He lasted six season with Dallas after the Cowboys acquired him following his release by the Steelers in 1975.

Intangibles: Pearson played in a total of five Super Bowls (III, IX, X, XII, and XIII) with three different teams (Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Dallas). With the Cowboys, he became a great third-down back and had a number of memorable plays. He scored three touchdowns in the NFC Championship game against the Rams in 1975.

Jeff Sanchez, CB, Tulane, 2003

Statistics: None.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played in one game for the Cowboys in 2003.

Intangibles: Sanchez now plays in the Arena Football League.

Kevin Smith, CB, Texas A&M, 1992-99

Statistics: Smith recorded 19 interceptions with the Cowboys.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: Smith lasted eight seasons with the Cowboys.

Intangibles: Smith started as a rookie and earned two Super Bowl rings in his first two seasons. He was well on his way to stardom when he suffered an Achilles injury in the opening game of the 1995 season. He was never the same after that and played second fiddle to Deion Sanders for the rest of the decade.


Here is your chance to vote for the greatest player to wear #26:

Greatest #26

  • Kevin Smith (31%, 59 Votes)
  • Michael Downs (29%, 56 Votes)
  • Preston Pearson (26%, 50 Votes)
  • Ken Hamlin (9%, 17 Votes)
  • Herb Adderley (7%, 13 Votes)
  • Jeff Sanchez (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Paul Palmer (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Buddy Dial (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Andrew Davison (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Aaron Glenn (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 192

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My Vote: Downs

Michael DownsIf Hamlin stays around for a few years, he should take this title, but right now, I have to give it to Downs. He was a solid starter for several years and should have made the Pro Bowl at least a couple of times. His 34 career interceptions ties him with Cornell Green for fifth on team’s all-time list.

I have fond memories of both Pearson and Smith as well. Pearson was a great receiver who made some important plays. Smith should have been a dominant corner but suffered in the second half of his career due partly to the injury and partly to teams throwing at him to avoid throwing at Deion.

  • Rob Howell

    Just to let you know, I’ve really enjoyed this thread.


    PS Aren’t you ready to put up 27 yet? 😉

  • Tim Truemper

    This is one of the toughest because Pearson, Kevin Smith, and Herb Adderly (even with only three seasons in at Dallas) all are deserving. But I voted for Downs because of longevity and his total # of interceptions.

  • W8Lifter

    This is one of the most interesting and informative series on the Cowboys I’ve ever read, PERIOD! Kudos to ya! Keep up the good posting.

  • Many thanks for the compliments. I enjoy this type of research. I will try to have a new number up once a day when possible. Thanks to all for reading.

  • Fred Goodwin

    Another tough call, but I went with Pearson. I remember Downs fondly, I had forgotten that he so many INTs, but I’m going with Pearson because he basically invented the position of 3rd-down HB.

    I doubt if many casual fans had any idea what a third-down outlet pass was before Pearson popularized it. He created the position before Newhouse, Springs and Newsome took over. And he was Roger’s “go-to” guy, coming out of the backfield in the shotgun when Roger couldn’t get the ball downfield to Drew or Tony Hill.

    Its also worth remembering that Pearson was the first player to appear in the Super Bowl with three different teams (Baltimore in ’70, Pittsburgh in ’75 and Dallas in ’76).

  • Pingback: Recap: Greatest Cowboys By Their Jersey Numbers, Nos. 1-69 | Know Your Dallas Cowboys: The Blog()

  • Fred Goodwin

    Alicia Landry presents Tom Landry Award

    3:11 PM Fri, Aug 22, 2008
    Brian Davis

    Don’t ask me why, but I applauded with the rest of the room when Alicia Landry took the stage and presented the Tom Landry Award to former Cowboys running back Preston Pearson.

    Alicia Landry, wife of the late coaching icon, was on stage with Roger Staubach. There’s no cheering in the press box, right? Or, in this case, no cheering from Table 29. But when you think about the fact that Alicia still represents Tom Landry’s legacy…well, she gets my applause and respect.

    “When you can get Roger Staubach and Alicia Landry to present you with the greatest trophy I think in Cowboys history — the Tom Landry Award — it’s got to be a little bit overwhelming,” Pearson said afterward.

    “I’m not embarrassed or jittery about speaking or anything. But I don’t know if the people know this, but I was a little shaky up there. It was just because of that.”

  • Jim

    this poll is kinda funny or is sad more like it? herb adderlley shoulld have had 98%

  • Rantonioa21

    P. Pearson – 5 Super Bowls!  Enough said.