Greatest Cowboys By Their Jersey Numbers: #54

Part of the Greatest Players by Number Series

Jersey #54

Eight players have worn #54 for the Cowboys, including seven linebackers and one Hall-of-Fame defensive tackle who once played linebacker.

Bobby Carpenter, LB, Ohio St, 2006-

Statistics: Carpenter has 25 tackles and 1.5 sacks with the Cowboys.

Accolades: None. At all.

Longevity: He will play his third season in Dallas in 2008.

Intangibles: Carpenter was taken with the 18th pick in the 2006 draft. He has officially started one game, but he is really not close to being a starter. The player taken immediately after Carpenter, cornerback Antonio Cromartie, had 10 interceptions in 2007 and was named to the Pro Bowl. In fact, 10 of the 14 players taken after Carpenter in the first round that year have developed into starters. Linebacker DeMeco Ryans, picked by Houston with the first selection of the second round, made the Pro Bowl in 2007 and has started each of his two seasons in the league.

Um, this means Carpenter is a bust.

Anthony Fieldings, LB, Morningside College, 1995

Statistics: n/a

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played part of one season in Dallas.

Intangibles: Fieldings was a free agent who signed in 1995. After playing four games that year, the Cowboys released him.

Darren Hambrick, LB, South Carolina, 1998-01

Statistics: Hambrick had 118 tackles and 3.5 sacks with the Cowboys.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played less than four full seasons with the Cowboys.

Intangibles: Hambrick caused problems in 2001 when he argued over his contract, and the Cowboys released him early in the season. Before that, he was developing into a pretty good linebacker. He played with Cleveland for a couple of years, then played in the Arena Football League. He has had numerous legal problems since he left football.

Darryl Hardy, LB, Tennessee, 1995, 1997

Statistics: n/a

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played in parts of two seasons with the Cowboys.

Intangibles: Hardy was signed as a free agent in 1995 and played on special teams for a few games. He missed the 1996 season but returned in 1997 to play in 12 more games.

Chuck Howley, LB, West Virginia, 1961-73

Statistics: Howley had a total of 24 career interceptions during regular season play. His most important interceptions, though, came in Super Bowls.

Accolades: He was named to six Pro Bowls and was a first-team All Pro five times. He was the MVP of Super Bowl V and remains the only player to win an MVP on a losing team in the Super Bowl. He is a member of the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor.

Longevity: He played 13 seasons in the NFL.

Intangibles: The Cowboys took a gamble on Howley by trading two future picks to Chicago, even though Howley had been injured severely in 1959. The gamble paid off. He was part of the stellar linebacking corps of the 1960s, and he saved his biggest plays for the biggest games. He should be in the Hall of Fame.

Keith O’Neil, LB, Northern Arizona, 2003-04

Statistics: O’Neil recorded 23 tackles with the Cowboys.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played two seasons with the Cowboys.

Intangibles: O’Neil was a special teams player with the Cowboys. He later earned a Super Bowl ring with the Colts following the 2006 season.

Jesse Solomon, LB, Florida State, 1989-90

Statistics: Soloman recorded 56 tackles with the Cowboys.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played two seasons in Dallas.

Intangibles: Soloman was part of the Herschel Walker trade in 1989. He was a starter with the Vikings but did not do much with the Cowboys. He later played for Tampa Bay, Atlanta, and Miami.

Randy White, DT/LB, Maryland, 1975-88

Statistics: He officially recorded 52 sacks, but this does not include the sacks he recorded from 1975 to 1983.

Accolades:Nine Pro Bowls. Seven All-Pro Teams. 1980s All-Decade Team. Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor. Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Longevity: He played 14 seasons with the Cowboys.

Intangibles: It would have taken quite a bit to make fans question whether Bob Lilly was the greatest defensive tackle in team history. I will save that for later (and won’t make that argument), but White was such a dominant player that he very well could have earned the distinction as the best. He teamed with Harvey Martin in Super Bowl XII to crush Craig Morton and the Broncos, earning a co-MVP award in the process. He has won just about every award imaginable (his collegiate accomplishments at Maryland include the Outland Trophy), and in this blog we are probably going to add the most important one of all…


Here is your chance to vote for the greatest player to wear #54.

Greatest #54

  • Randy White (90%, 164 Votes)
  • Chuck Howley (8%, 15 Votes)
  • Bobby Carpenter (1%, 2 Votes)
  • Darren Hambrick (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Keith O'Neil (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Marc Cerqua (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Anthony Fieldings (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Darryl Hardy (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Jesse Solomon (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 182

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My Vote: White

Randy WhiteEven though this was a contest between two of the all-time greatest players in team history, this one was not very close for me. White was the most dominant player on a defense that was every bit as good as the 1960s version of Doomsday. As for Howley, he has fallen victim to the 1960s curse, joining Bob Hayes (#22) and Don Perkins (#43) as Ring of Honor players who were the second greatest Cowboys to wear their jersey numbers.

  • Fred Goodwin

    This was a toss-up for me, and definitely a difficult choice.

    But I knew this was gonna go to the Manster, so I had to vote for Howley.

  • Tim Truemper

    I voted for RW because of his dominance at the position. But this is a good opportunity for others to learn about Chuck Howley, one of my most favorite players of all time. A great all around athlete. I was really bummed when he got his knee hurt against the Redskins in 1972 (illegal crack back block). When he attempted a comeback, he ran the 4o in 4.8 at age 39 (I saved the clipping from the Dallas Morning News).
    Howley should be in the HOF. He along with Dave Robinson of the Packers are two of the neglected players at their positions and from their era that should be in.

  • Being a child of the 70s, I tend to know much more about players like Randy than Chuck.

    Thanks for taking the time to fill us in on all the players. Excellent work.

  • Thanks to all for the comments. I’m glad everyone recognizes Howley’s great contributions. He was before my time, but fans with any sense of the history of this franchise need to know what Howley brought to the team for many years.

    I have a clip of Howley picking off Bob Griese in SB VI and running it back to the nine before slipping and falling. I’ll post that sometime in the near future.

  • Ripper a slight margin. I enjoyed watching Randy White, but Howley was a key to the first wave of success the Dallas Cowboys enjoyed, which in my mind gives him the edge. Manster was on Doomsday 2, while Howley was on the original Doomsday with Lee Roy Jordan and Dave Edwards and the rest. That original Doomsday is still the only team to hold their opponent to no touchdowns in a Super Bowl. Super Bowl VI against Don Shula’s Dolphins (24-3). AMAZING DEFENSE!

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  • I voted for Howley simply to show him some respect that he NEVER seems to get. Not that White was not better, but remember, Howley played a position that Randy White failed at. Maybe that’s not fair to say but ask your self, would White have been a HOFer at LB? Of course the same could be said about Howley playing Dline.. apples and oranges, I know! Randy White was great, probably the greatest DT of his generation but Howley was not bad either and deserves honorable mention and some HOF consideration…

  • Fred Goodwin

    I look at it this way:

    Howley made #54 special, and R. White did nothing to tarnish that reputation; if anything, he added to it.

    Unfortunately, no one else on the list has done much with it.

  • skopas

    I was to young to remember Howley. But, i remember R.WHite. He was pure excitement to watch, kinda like a Micheal He was always everywhere, then with H.Martin and Too.Tall Jones next to him, those individuals made him shine even more.

  • cowboypackerjetsfan

    it was a hard desigion with howley and white they where both outstanding football players but srry for both ya’ll Brett Farve is still the best


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  • J.R.

    You will not find a bigger fan of the “Manster” than me, but I think this is a case where two players should be given the honor; Randy White AND Chuck Howley.

  • Laura

    Randy White is the reason I watch football.. I was about 8 when he was at Maryland. He grew up on the same street I did and went to school w/ my sister. He signed a picture for me at his front door when I was 8 and I have been in love w/ football ever since.