Greatest Cowboys By Their Jersey Numbers: #56

Part of the Greatest Players by Number Series

Jersey #56

Thirteen players, all linebackers, have worn #56 for the Cowboys.

Reggie Barnes, LB, Oklahoma, 1995

Statistics: Barnes had one fumble recovery for the Cowboys.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played less than one full season in Dallas.

Intangibles: Barnes was a local hero, having played in high school for Grand Prairie. Dallas signed him as a special teams player in 1995, but he was released seven games into the season.

Rodrigo Barnes, LB, Rice, 1973-74

Statistics: Like Reggie Barnes, Rodrigo Barnes had one fumble recovery for the Cowboys.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played less than two full seasons in Dallas.

Intangibles: He was Lee Roy Jordan’s backup for the 1973 season but was traded to New England during the 1974 season.

Randall Godfrey, LB, Georgia, 1996-99

Randall GodfreyStatistics: Godfrey recorded 242 tackles, five sacks, and two interceptions with the Cowboys.

Accolades: None with Dallas.

Longevity: He played four years with the Cowboys.

Intangibles: Godfrey was one of the “good guy” picks of the mid-1990s. He was a fast linebacker who fit into the mold of the 4-3 during the 1990s, but he came along just as the dynasty was in decline. He remained a quality starter throughout the decade and has remained in the league, playing for Tennessee, Seattle, San Diego, and Washington.

Orantes Grant, LB, Georgia, 2000-01

Statistics: Grant recorded three fumble recoveries and 11 official tackles with the Cowboys.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played two seasons in Dallas.

Intangibles: Like Godfrey, Grant was a standout linebacker with the Georgia Bulldogs. He did very little with Dallas, however, and barely saw action in two seasons with Washington and Cleveland.

Harold Hays, LB, Southern Mississippi, 1963-67

Statistics: n/a

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played five seasons in Dallas.

Intangibles: Hays was a quality backup and special teams player during the mid-1960s.

Thomas Henderson, LB, Langston, 1975-79

Hollywood HendersonStatistics: He had three interceptions in his career (statistics on tackles are not available). He returned one of those picks for a touchdown and also scored on a kickoff return as a rookie in 1975.

Accolades: He made the Pro Bowl once.

Longevity: He lasted less than five full seasons in Dallas, being released midway through the 1979 season.

Intangibles: Henderson once represented everything that could go wrong with a professional athlete. He developed into a star on a team that had long had stars at the linebacker position, and he was quickly becoming one of the most dominant linebackers in the game. That was before drugs and alcohol derailed his career while he was still in his prime. He has since become a highly sought-after spokesperson for sobriety.

Bradie James, LB, Louisiana State, 2003-present

Bradie JamesStatistics: James has recorded 248 tackles with 108 assists, along with 5.5 sacks and one interception.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He will enter his sixth season with the Cowboys in 2008.

Intangibles:James developed into a starter in 2005 after serving as a backup in 2003 and 2004. He has become a team leader and should continue to improve.

Eugene Lockhart, LB, Houston, 1984-90

Eugene LockhartStatistics: Unofficially, Lockhart recorded more than 100 tackles in several seasons. His best year came in 1989, when he recorded a team record 222 tackles, a team record.

Accolades: He was named to several All-Pro teams in 1989.

Longevity: He played seven seasons in Dallas.

Intangibles: Lockhart was one of the few good defensive draft picks the Cowboys had during the 1980s. Taken in the 6th round in 1984, he took over for Bob Breunig by 1985 and remained in the middle for the remainder of the decade. His performance in 1989, when he recorded at least 10 tackles in every game, was one of the few bright spots on the team.

Bob Long, LB, UCLA, 1962

Statistics: n/a

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played one season with Dallas.

Intangibles: He had spent seven years with the Rams and Lions before joining the Cowboys in 1962. He was a backup that year and retired after the season.

Jack Patera, LB, Oregon, 1960-61

Statistics: Patera recorded one interception with the Cowboys.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played two seasons in Dallas.

Intangibles: Patera played for the Lions and Cardinals before Dallas selected him in the 1960s expansion draft. He fought through injuries for two years in Dallas before retiring. He later became the defensive line coach with the Rams and Vikings, and in 1976, he became the first head coach of the Seattle Seahawks. Moreover, as noted in one of the first posts ever on this blog, his brother is the once-famous wrestler named Ken Patera. If you remember that one, you watched way too much wrestling on Sunday mornings before church.

Bill Roe, LB, Colorado, 1980

Statistics: n/a

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played one season in Dallas.

Intangibles: Roe was the team’s highest pick in the 1980 draft, and he was a good special teams player as a rookie. However, he suffered an injury in 1981 and never played for Dallas again. He played in the USFL for three seasons and saw action with New Orleans in three strike games in 1987.

John Roper, LB, Texas A&M, 1993

Statistics: Roper recorded two sacks with the Cowboys.

Accolades: None, except that he will forever be remembered as the player that Jimmy Johnson cut for falling asleep in a team meeting.

Longevity: He played less than half of a season for the Cowboys.

Intangibles: Dallas acquired Roper from Chicago in 1993 and expected him to make a push for a starting position. However, when Johnson caught him napping during a special teams meeting, that was all she wrote. He spent the rest of the season with the Eagles and was then gone from football.

Tom Stincic, LB, Michigan State, 1969-71

Statistics: Stincic recorded one interception with the Cowboys.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played three seasons in Dallas.

Intangibles: He was a backup linebacker, filling in for Lee Roy Jordan when necessary. He was traded to New Orleans after the 1971 season.

Poll

Here is your chance to vote for the greatest player to wear #56.

Greatest #56

  • Thomas Henderson (42%, 66 Votes)
  • Eugene Lockhart (40%, 63 Votes)
  • Bradie James (14%, 22 Votes)
  • Randall Godfrey (5%, 8 Votes)
  • Bob Long (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Reggie Barnes (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Tom Stincic (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Harold Hays (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Orantes Grant (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Rodrigo Barnes (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Jack Patera (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Bill Roe (0%, 0 Votes)
  • John Roper (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 159

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My Vote: Henderson

Hollywood HendersonAs a player, Henderson was as talented as any linebacker the Cowboys have ever had, and the thought of what could have been is depressing. But it is fair to say he had a higher calling in life.

Of the other players, Lockhart deserves mention. On a 1-15 team that was seemingly going nowhere, he managed to record more than 200 tackles. A few younger fans may go for James because he is familiar, but he has not done nearly as much compared with the others.

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Article by Matt Cordon

Blogging impatiently about the Cowboys since 2006. Being a fan since 1977 hasn't required quite as much patience.
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  • http://godfatheroftech.blogspot.com/ GodFatherofTech

    I had to go with Lockhart. My first impression was Hollywood when I was thinking about #56, but I forgot Lockhart wore #56 too. He was rock solid and deserves my choice.

  • http://www.knowyourdallascowboys.com kickholder

    This was really a tough one. One of my first memories of the Cowboys was of Hollywood returning an interception for a touchdown in the NFC Championship Game in 1978 against the Rams. Lockhart was a great player on some teams that got progressively worse, and he deserves just as much consideration.

    Thanks for the comment.

  • Fred Goodwin

    Another toughie, but I went with Hollywood.

    Eugene “The Hittin’ Machine” certainly is a worthy candidate, but Henderson gets my vote because of his speed and pure talent. I don’t think Eugene would ever be asked to run a reverse on a kickoff return, as Henderson did.

    Sort of like Duane Thomas, Henderson’s is a story of wasted talent and lost opportunities.

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