Greatest Cowboys By Their Jersey Numbers: #88

Part of the Greatest Players by Number Series

Jersey #88

Nine players have worn #88 for the Cowboys. This includes six wide receivers, a linebacker, a tight end, and a punter/kicker.

Antonio Bryant, WR, Pittsburgh, 2002-04

Statistics: Bryant caught 99 passes for 1549 yards and 8 TDs with Dallas.

Accolades: None.

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

Intangibles: The highly talented Bryant has yet to find a way to stay out of trouble. He lasted just over two seasons in Dallas before the Cowboys sent him packing.

Sonny Davis, LB, Baylor, 1961

Statistics: n/a

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played one season in Dallas.

Intangibles: Davis was a wide receiver at Baylor, but the Cowboys tried to convert him to linebacker. He saw little action during his one pro season.

Jackie Harris, TE, Northwest Louisiana, 2000-01

Statistics: Harris caught 54 passes for 447 yards and seven touchdowns with Dallas.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played two seasons in Dallas.

Intangibles: Harris was a starter in Green Bay, Tampa Bay, and Tennessee before Dallas signed him in 2000 to replace David LeFleur. He was adequate for the two years he played in Dallas.

Michael Irvin, WR, Miami, Fla., 1988-99

Statistics: Irvin caught 750 passes for 11,904 yards and 65 TDs with the Cowboys.

Accolades: Five Pro Bowls, All-Decade Team of the 1990s, Ring of Honor, and Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Longevity: Irvin played 12 seasons in Dallas.

Intangibles: Irvin was a physical receiver who could fill roles as both a possession receiver and as a big playmaker. He was the most vocal (and obviously most flamboyant) of the leaders on the 1990s teams, but he always backed up his talk with his play. His 1995 season (111 rec., 1603 yds.) is easily the greatest single season for any Dallas receiver, and he accomplished it even though every opponent knew he was the primary weapon in the passing game.

Drew Pearson, WR, Tulsa, 1973-83

Statistics: Pearson caught 489 passes for 7822 yards and 48 TDs.

Accolades: Three Pro Bowls and three All-Pro teams. He was also a member of the All-Decade Team for the 1970s.

Longevity: He played 11 seasons in the NFL, all with Dallas.

Intangibles: Pearson was a free agent who became the team’s top receiver during the Cowboys’ resurgence in the mid-1970s. He was a clutch receiver who made as many big plays in big games as any player in team history.

Sonny Randle, WR, Virginia, 1968

Statistics: Randle caught one pass for 12 yards with the Cowboys.

Accolades: None with Dallas. He made four Pro Bowls with the Rams.

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

Intangibles: Dallas picked up Randle in 1968 after he spent several seasons with the Rams, Cardinals, and 49ers. He retired after the 1968 season.

Colin Ridgway, P/K, Lamar Tech, 1965

Statistics: Ridgway averaged 39.2 yards on 13 punts for the Cowboys.

Accolades: None.

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

Intangibles: Ridgway competed in the Olympics in the high jump for Australia in 1956. He spent most of his time in Dallas on the taxi squad. Tragically, he was a murder victim in 1993 in a crime that has never been solved.

Reggie Rucker, WR, Boston University, 1970-71

Statistics: Sellers caught 10 passes for 219 yards and two touchdowns for the Cowboys.

Accolades: None with Dallas.

Longevity: He played less than two full seasons for the Cowboys before being traded to the Giants.

Intangibles: Rucker is best remembered as member of the Cleveland Browns. He finished his career with more than 7000 yards, but only a few were with the Cowboys.

Ron Sellers, WR, Florida State, 1972

Statistics: Sellers caught 31 passes for 653 yards and five touchdowns with the Cowboys.

Accolades: None with Dallas.

Longevity: He played one season in Dallas.

Intangibles: Sellers caught Roger Staubach’s last-minute touchdown pass in the 1972 playoff win over San Francisco. That happened to be his final catch as a Cowboy, as he was traded to Miami in 1973.


Here is your chance to vote for the greatest player to wear #88.

Note from 9/2: Thanks to an “upgrade” to my WordPress software, I was having trouble with the poll plugin. I think I have fixed it. I incorporated the results from the Zoho poll (below) into this poll:

Greatest #88

  • Michael Irvin (82%, 164 Votes)
  • Drew Pearson (17%, 34 Votes)
  • Jackie Harris (1%, 2 Votes)
  • Sonny Davis (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Antonio Bryant (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Sonny Randle (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Colin Ridgway (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Reggie Rucker (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Ron Sellers (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 199

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Here is the Zoho poll in case anyone is still having problems.

My Vote: Irvin

Michael IrvinWhen I set out to conduct this poll, the debate over the greatest #88 is what came to mind first. The stats clearly support Irvin, but this one is about more than stats. Both made plays that created their legends, and the Cowboys’ franchise wouldn’t have been what it was during either of their eras. What gives Irvin my vote is that he was greater for a longer period of time. From 1991 to 1998, he was the centerpiece of the Cowboys’ passing attack, and he consistently came through in the biggest moments. By comparison, Pearson became less and less of a primary target as his career progressed, and he finished behind Tony Hill in receptions during each of Pearson’s final six seasons. We can only pick one here, and my vote has to go to Irvin.

  • Fred Goodwin

    I would’ve gone with Irvin, but I’m not seeing the vote buttons on my screen for some reason.

  • I just upgraded my WordPress software. I’ll have to see what the problem is.

  • Irvin all the way.

    Your poll allows multiple votes. 🙁

  • Apparently Zoho is not the answer here. I’m still trying to correct my polls widget…

  • Fred Goodwin

    Zoho worked for me — thanx for running the blog, I know it can be a pain at times.

  • Wadeli

    Every time this discussion comes up it pains me not to pick Drew Pearson, but I have to admit Irvin was the best.

  • Mike

    I watched more Drew Pearson games than Michael Irvin games (military duties) and so better remembering those huge Redskin, Viking, and Bronco games of the 70’s. Drew Pearosn beating double coverage was truely something to see. Pearson wasn’t as flamboyant or as physically big as Irvin but was as clutch as they come. Overall though stat vote is Irvin, heart vote says Pearson.

  • Thanks, Mike. The statistics are somewhat misleading because Dallas did not throw nearly as often in the early 1970s as the Cowboys of the 1990s threw. Pearson caught around 30% of the total team receptions in several seasons early in his career, which is comparable to Irvin’s numbers in that respect. That said, Pearson’s production during the last half of his career (starting in about 1978) wasn’t nearly as impressive, as the Cowboys threw more frequently to Tony Hill as well as the backs and tight ends. Irvin didn’t really start to decline until 1997 or 1998.

  • Fred Goodwin

    As long as we’re talking about Drew Pearson, I don’t know how in the world I missed his book! I even have the hard cover version:

    2006 Hail Mary – The Drew Pearson Story by Drew, Pearson, Jim, O. Rogers, and Frank, Luksa (Paperback)
    2004 Hail Mary: The Drew Pearson Story (Hardcover) by Drew Pearson

  • J.R.

    Another case of two great Cowboys with the same number, Irvin and Pearson. I think that the disparity of votes between the two is because Pearson played the bulk of his career in the ’70s and Irvin’s was in the ’90s.

  • Blackpanther5000

    Now it’s the dez bryant era

  • B. McCarthy

    The Cowboys threw plenty in the mid-70’s, which is when Pearson became a full-time starter, 1974. Staubach threw to lots of receivers. And the Cowboys in the early-mid 90’s were always a run first offense, which is reflected in Smiths’ 4 rushing titles and all those rushing yards. Irvin got doubled plenty, but was more physical and intense about making the play than Pearson. I loved Drew, I really did, but Irvin took it to another level, and was essential in 3 Super Bowl titles for the Boys. Gotta love that, if you’re a real Cowboys fan.

  • Tony Lover

    I think Irvin is the best that ever wear the #88 ,hands down