Greatest Cowboys By Their Jersey Numbers: #76

Part of the Greatest Players by Number Series

Jersey #76

Ten players have worn #76 for the Cowboys. This includes seven offensive linemen and three defensive linemen.

Flozell Adams, OT, Michigan State, 1998-

Statistics: n/a

Accolades: He has been named to four Pro Bowls.

Longevity: Adams will enter his eleventh season in 2008.

Intangibles: The Cowboys were lucky to pick up Adams in the 1998 draft, taking him in the second round. Although he has been accused of underachieving, he has been solid for a significant length of time. Dallas gave him a $42 million contract in the 2008 offseason.

Dowe Aughtman, OL, Auburn, 1984

Statistics: n/a

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played one season for the Cowboys.

Intangibles: Dallas tried to convert Aughtman from defense to offense, but an injury suffered during his rookie season ended his career.

Larry Bethea, DL, Michigan State, 1978-83

Statistics: Bethea officially recorded five sacks, though this only includes his last two seasons in the league.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played six seasons in Dallas.

Intangibles: Bethea had difficulty breaking into the starting lineup in Dallas, but he lasted several years as a backup. After playing in the USFL, he fell on hard times and suffered from bouts of depression. He committed suicide in 1987.

Bill Frank, T, Colorado, 1964

Statistics: n/a

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played one season in Dallas.

Intangibles: Frank signed late in the 1964 season, his last in the NFL.

John Gonzaga, DE, No College, 1960

Statistics: n/a

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played one season in Dallas.

Intangibles: Gonzaga was an offensive lineman for San Francisco, but the Cowboys converted him to defense. He played one season before being traded to Detroit.

John Niland, G, Iowa, 1966-74

Statistics: n/a

Accolades: Niland was named to six Pro Bowls and made two All-Pro teams.

Longevity: He played nine seasons with the Cowboys.

Intangibles: Niland was a very fast guard who excelled as a pulling guard. He made the Pro Bowl in six of his nine seasons in Dallas. He had some psychological problems late in his career and was injured when police were forced to restrain him. This does not detract, though, from his on-field performance.

Ed Nutting, T, Georgia Tech, 1963

Statistics: n/a

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played one season with the Cowboys.

Intangibles: Dallas acquired Nutting from Cleveland in 1962, but he was injured that year and missed the entire season. He started several games in 1963, which was his last in the NFL.

Bob Otto, DL, Idaho State, 1986

Statistics: n/a

Accolades: None.

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

Intangibles: Dallas acquired Otto after Seattle released him. However, he lasted only a short period of time with the Cowboys.

Alan Veingrad, OL, East Texas State, 1991-92

Statistics: n/a

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played two seasons with the Cowboys.

Intangibles: Veingard once started over Tony Mandarich in Green Bay. Dallas acquired him via Plan B free agency in 1991, and he started a few games when Mark Tuinei was injured. He was a backup for two seasons.

Jeff Zimmerman, G, Florida, 1987-90

Statistics: n/a

Accolades: None.

Longevity: Zimmerman played four seasons in Dallas.

Intangibles: At 320 pounds, Zimmerman was huge for his day. His claim to fame was that he knocked Lawrence Taylor unconscious in 1987. However, injuries cost him quite a few games, and he was out of the league after 1990.

Poll

Here is your chance to vote for the greatest player to wear #76.

Greatest #76

  • John Niland (46%, 51 Votes)
  • Flozell Adams (43%, 48 Votes)
  • Larry Bethea (4%, 4 Votes)
  • Bob Otto (4%, 4 Votes)
  • Jeff Zimmerman (3%, 3 Votes)
  • Jerry Reynolds (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Bill Frank (0%, 0 Votes)
  • John Gonzaga (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Dowe Aughtman (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Ed Nutting (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Alan Veingrad (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 111

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My Vote: Niland

John NilandThis is a tough one between Niland and Adams. Niland was a Pro Bowler for most of his career in Dallas, and he was an important part of two Super Bowl teams. After a very promising start, Adams was a little bit slow to develop. However, he has been very good for the past five seasons. Between the two, I think Niland was an overall better player who received more accolades than Adams, who is also deserving.

The Larry Bethea story is sad. He was only 30 years old when he took his life. He is probably best remembered as one of the Dallas players chasing Joe Montana before Dwight Clark caught “The Catch.” The New York Times’ coverage of Bethea’s suicide is here.

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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.
  • http://www.cowboycards.com/ cowboycards

    I also voted for Niland although I think Flozell is only 1 or 2 more pro bowl seasons from taking the title away from Niland.

    I remember the Bethea suicide story but didn’t know or remember most of the details and didn’t know or at least didn’t recall his conviction and prison sentence. I know Bethea didn’t live up to his potential but I cerntainly don’t remember having any disdain towords him when he played like I did players such as Phil Pozderec… that name still makes me cringe. Bethea was a better than average backup as I recall. He was to eventually replace Harvey Martin but he skipped to the USFL or perhaps the Cowboys cut him, not really sure.. So once Harvey retired after 1983, the Cowboys defense began its slide into mediocrity.

  • Fred Goodwin

    Wow — glad to see Niland getting some respect. I also voted for him, but I thought modern fans would overlook him for Flozell.

  • Tim Truemper

    There was interesting NFL Action video from the past that featured John Niland. He was “miked” for a game in which he had to block Buck Buchanan of the chiefs. Very interesting 5-10 minutes of a players thinking while in the trenches.

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  • jonny

    I agree, John Niland was one of the best guards of his era. He was key to their super bowl victory. He is one of the best linemen in Cowboy history and should be in the Hall of Fame.

  • David Campbell

    I had the pleasure of working with John Niland from 2006-2009. He is good christian and has a great attitude.
    Not to mention he was a beast on the field.
    Wish him the best..

  • tony padua

    By far its John Niland with out question, he dominated the defense opening big gaps for cowboys legends in the backfield. Flozel Adams also is great Cowboy but John takes it. The numbers don’t lie 6 pro bowl, super bowls , the ice bowl the list goes on and on. The greatest #76 is John Niland. I’ve been lucky enough to be a personal friend of John for over 10 yrs.

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