Greatest Cowboys By Their Jersey Numbers: #33

Part of the Greatest Players by Number Series

Jersey #33

Eleven players have worn #33, including three defensive backs, a kicker, five running backs, a linebacker, and a linebacker/fullback.

Gene Babb, LB/RB, Austin College, 1960-61

Statistics: Babb rushed for 115 yards with the Cowboys.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: Babb played two seasons with the Cowboys.

Intangibles: Babb came out of semi-retirement to play for the upstart Cowboys in 1960 and 1961. He moved to linebacker from fullback in 1961 and was traded to Houston after the 1961 season.

Jason Bell, CB, UCLA, 2001

Statistics: Bell recorded a couple of tackles with Dallas, but little else.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: Bell played one season in Dallas.

Intangibles: Bell left Dallas after one year to join the expansion Houston Texans in 2002.

Eric Brown, DB, Savannah State, 1989

Statistics: None.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played one season in Dallas and saw action in only one game.

Intangibles: The free agent barely played with the Cowboys.

Tony Dorsett, RB, Pittsburgh, 1977-87

Statistics: Dorsett rushed for a then-record 12,036 yards and 72 touchdowns with the Cowboys.

Accolades: 4-time Pro Bowler, All-Pro, Ring of Honor, Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Longevity: He played 11 seasons in Dallas.

Intangibles: Dorsett still ranks as probably the most dangerous back in team history. Few backs in NFL history used his speed so effectively as Dorsett, who continued to make big plays throughout the majority of his career.

Wendell Hayes, RB, Humboldt State, 1963

Statistics: Hayes returned two kickoffs for the Cowboys.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He lasted two games with team.

Intangibles: Injuries caused Hayes to miss nearly all of the 1963 season with Dallas. He was traded in 1964 to Denver. He ended up playing with the Broncos and Chiefs for nearly a decade.

Nate Jones, CB, Rutgers, 2004-

Statistics: Jones recorded 65 tackles with the Cowboys.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played four seasons in Dallas.

Intangibles: Jones was a special teams player throughout his career. He recently signed with the Miami Dolphins.

Mac Percival, K, Texas Tech, 1974

Statistics: Percival made two of eight field goals with the Cowboys.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played part of one season with Dallas.

Intangibles: Percival was originally discovered by the Cowboys in 1967 but was traded to Chicago, where he played for seven years. He returned to Dallas to fill in for an injured Toni Fritsch, but after making just 25% of his field goals, Dallas brought in Efren Herrera.

Cyril Pinder, RB, Illinois, 1973

Statistics: Pinder rushed for 15 yards with the Cowboys.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played in five games with Dallas.

Intangibles: Pinder finished his pro career in the World Football League.

Timmy Smith, RB, Texas Tech, 1990

Statistics: Smith rushed for six yards with the Cowboys.

Accolades: The one-time Super Bowl hero did nothing with Dallas.

Longevity: One game.

Intangibles: He is well-known as a one-hit wonder after rushing for 204 yards in Super Bowl XXII with Washington. He barely made a blip on the radar with the Cowboys.

Duane Thomas, RB, West Texas State, 1970-71

Statistics: Thomas rushed for 1596 yards and 16 touchdowns with the Cowboys.

Accolades: Nothing official.

Longevity: He played two seasons with the Cowboys.

Intangibles: Bob Lilly compared Thomas to the great Jim Brown, and many believe that Dallas would have won more than two Super Bowls in the 1970s had he stayed with the team. But the enigmatic Thomas was not long for the either the Cowboys or the NFL.

Russell Wayt, LB, Rice, 1965

Statistics: Nothing worth noting.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played in less than a full season with the Cowboys.

Intangibles: The eighth-round pick in 1965 was released after serving as a backup for his time in Dallas.


Here are the results of the poll for this number:

Greatest #33

  • Tony Dorsett (94%, 204 Votes)
  • Duane Thomas (3%, 7 Votes)
  • Nate Jones (1%, 2 Votes)
  • Cyril Pinder (0%, 1 Votes)
  • Russell Wayt (0%, 1 Votes)
  • Jason Bell (0%, 1 Votes)
  • Wendell Hayes (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Mac Percival (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Eric Brown (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Timmy Smith (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Gene Babb (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 216

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

My Vote: Dorsett

Tony DorsettThis is another no-contest. Dorsett was the Cowboys’ weapon that opponents had to stop for nearly a decade. Few players who ever played the game could make a play the way that Dorsett could.

For a few cases in point, take a look at this:

Thomas’ story is fascinating, and without him Dallas may not have won Super Bowl VI, but he cannot compare. The others on this list were role players at best.

  • W8Lifter

    Excellent read!
    Tony Dorsett was exciting every time he had the ball.

    You never knew when TD was going to break a tackle and ‘take it to the house’.

  • Thanks, W8. Teams had to develop their entire game plans around stopping Dorsett. He was just as important to the teams of the late 1970s and early 1980s as Emmitt Smith was to the team of the 1990s– the only real big difference was that the teams of the 1990s had better offensive lines and were more rounded overall.

  • One of the easiest on the list, this Tony Dorsett, arguably the greatest Cowboys running back of all time.

    I forgot how fun he was to watch. Thanks for that video clip!

  • Fred Goodwin

    Duane Thomas knows how it feels to be misunderstood

    12:35 AM CDT on Sunday, July 27, 2008
    Todd Archer

    OXNARD, Calif. – Duane Thomas has never met Terrell Owens, but the former Cowboys’ running back sees some similarities between him and the current Cowboys star.

    “I was into challenging myself,” Thomas said as the Cowboys practiced Saturday. “I was a competitor. Competitors challenge each other, whereas the perception may be based on whatever standards that you’ve gone by. Just from afar and as a player and not really taking sides, he’s just into challenging himself.”

    When he played, Thomas was called moody and surly. He went through a season not talking to anybody – teammates, coaches, media. And the Cowboys won a Super Bowl.

    “They weren’t wrong,” Thomas said. “That was their perceptions. I might’ve been all of those things, but that was not all of me. I had other sides as well.”

    Owens has other sides, too. His teammates and coaches see it. You maybe did not hear much about him coming to the aid of an ESPN reporter who was struck by a car after the ESPY’s recently.

    He said the accident sounded like two cars hitting each other but he couldn’t find the other car. He kept the reporter calm until the ambulance arrived, leaving before any kind of thank you.

    “Honestly, it’s like a slap in the face because it wasn’t me just going out of my way to do anything,” Owens said. “I would do it for you if you were in that situation. It’s sad that it took something like that for someone to see who I am as a person.”

    Thomas had contractual issues with the Cowboys. Owens had contractual issues with Philadelphia and San Francisco. Thomas made some off-the-wall comments, calling Tom Landry, “Plastic man,” before adding, “no man at all.” Owens famously said, “I love me some me.” Thomas was disruptive to his team, once refusing to get in a three-point stance. Owens was suspended the final nine games in 2005 by the Eagles.

    “Sometimes I’d discombobulate people by asking questions because they already had their minds made up about me,” Thomas said. “The best way to deal with that situation was to keep my mouth shut and just perform on the field, and I was still misunderstood.”

    Owens, however, has not kept quiet, but since coming to the Cowboys, the perception has started to change some.

    “I’m still the same person as I was coming into the league,” Owens said.

    Thomas’ career lasted only four years, but he was the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 1970 and ran the Cowboys to their first Super Bowl win a year later. Entering his 13th season, Owens’ statistics are Hall of Fame worthy, but he has yet to win a Super Bowl.

    Calvin Hill was Thomas’ teammate and has gotten to know Owens, working as a consultant in the team’s player development program.

    “You know, it’s funny,” Hill said. “Machiavelli once said, ‘For the great majority, they see things as they seem, rather than what they are and are often more influenced by appearance than reality.’ If you get to know Terrell, if you get to know Duane, you realize at the end of the day when it’s all over, those are the guys you call up.”

  • Fred Goodwin

    The Hill quote does not surprise me; after all, he’s a Yalie!

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  • This

    Dorsett should have all the votes.

  • Terry Stanley

    Tony Dorsett Best all time running back.