Underappreciated Dallas Cowboys: Wide Receivers

The Cowboys have two Hall of Fame receivers in Michael Irvin and Bob Hayes, plus a third who should be in the Hall in Drew Pearson. A long list of others have had productive careers, giving several options for most underappreciated tight ends.

Below are the results of ESPN’s Greatest Team poll:

1. Michael Irvin (96.5%)
2. Bob Hayes (47.5%)
3. Drew Pearson (39.1%)
4. Terrell Owens (9.6%)
5. Tony Hill (4%)
6. Alvin Harper (2.1%)
7. Lance Rentzel (.7%)
8. Frank Clarke (.5%)

There were a couple of surprises here. First, Harper did not have a long career in Dallas, so it came as a surprise that he received any votes (compared with the likes of Miles Austin and Terry Glenn, who received no votes). And second, someone voted for Frank Clarke, which is refreshing given that many have forgotten about him.

Here is the P-F-R list of receivers ranked by approximate value:

Rk From To G Pos AV ?
1 Michael Irvin 1988 1999 159 WR 128
2 Drew Pearson 1973 1983 156 WR 99
3 Bob Hayes 1965 1974 128 SE 92
4 Tony Hill 1978 1986 127 WR 82
5 Frank Clarke 1960 1967 104 E 39
6 Terrell Owens 2006 2008 47 WR 37
7 Alvin Harper 1991 1994 63 WR 31
8 Patrick Crayton 2004 2009 82 WR 30
9 Terry Glenn 2003 2006 53 WR 30
10 Kelvin Martin 1987 1996 98 WR 30
11 Lance Rentzel 1967 1970 53 FL 28
12 Butch Johnson 1976 1983 112 WR 25
13 Miles Austin 2007 2010 60 WR 24
14 Billy Howton 1960 1963 50 E 24
15 Rocket Ismail 1999 2001 39 WR 22
16 Golden Richards 1973 1977 65 WR 22
17 Mike Renfro 1984 1987 58 WR 21
18 Kevin Williams 1993 1996 57 WR 19
19 Joey Galloway 2000 2003 48 WR 17
20 Keyshawn Johnson 2004 2005 32 WR 15
21 Pete Gent 1964 1968 48 FL 15
22 Roy E. Williams 2008 2010 40 WR 12
23 Antonio Bryant 2002 2004 37 WR 10
24 James McKnight 2000 2000 16 WR 9
25 Lance Alworth 1971 1972 26 FL 9
26 Buddy Dial 1964 1966 32 FL 9
27 Ernie Mills 1998 1999 22 WR 8
28 Ron Sellers 1972 1972 14 WR 8
29 Dick Bielski 1960 1961 26 E 8
30 Dez Bryant 2010 2010 12 WR 7
31 Billy Davis 1998 1998 16 WR 7
32 Doug Donley 1983 1984 26 WR 7
33 Ray Alexander 1988 1988 16 WR 6
34 Kelvin Edwards 1987 1988 21 WR 6
35 Sam Hurd 2006 2010 62 WR 6
36 Wane McGarity 1999 2000 19 WR 6
37 Mike Sherrard 1986 1986 16 WR 6
38 Otto Stowe 1973 1973 7 WR 6
39 Jason Tucker 1999 2000 31 WR 6
40 Dennis Homan 1968 1970 31 WR 5
41 Anthony Miller 1997 1997 16 WR 5
42 Alexander Wright 1990 1991 31 WR 5
43 Tommy McDonald 1964 1964 14 FL 5
44 Fred Dugan 1960 1960 12 E 5
45 Gordon Banks 1986 1987 21 WR 4
46 Billy Parks 1972 1972 12 WR 4
47 Cornell Burbage 1987 1989 13 WR 3
48 Patrick Jeffers 1998 1998 8 WR 3
49 Reggie Rucker 1970 1970 7 WR 3
50 Reggie Swinton 2001 2002 29 WR 3
51 Rod Barksdale 1987 1987 12 WR 2
52 Everett Gay 1988 1988 16 WR 2
53 Dave McDaniels 1968 1968 4 WR 2
54 Quincy Morgan 2004 2004 9 WR 2
55 Jeff Ogden 1998 1999 32 WR 2
56 Karl Powe 1985 1985 15 WR 2
57 Derrick Shepard 1989 1989 11 WR 2
58 Stepfret Williams 1997 1997 16 WR 2
59 Gloster Richardson 1971 1971 11 FL 2
60 Sonny Randle 1968 1968 6 E 2
61 Margene Adkins 1971 1971 3 WR 1
62 Gary Barnes 1963 1963 12 WR 1
63 Chris Brazzell 1999 1999 5 WR 1
64 Darrin Chiaverini 2001 2001 16 WR 1
65 Terrance Copper 2004 2004 10 WR 1
66 Cory Fleming 1995 1995 16 WR 1
67 Damon Hodge 2000 2000 8 WR 1
68 Bill Houston 1974 1974 13 WR 1
69 Dennis McKinnon 1990 1990 9 WR 1
70 Lee Murchison 1961 1961 14 WR 1
71 Kevin Ogletree 2009 2009 11 WR 1
72 Peerless Price 2005 2005 7 WR 1
73 Ken-Yon Rambo 2002 2002 16 WR 1
74 Darnay Scott 2002 2002 15 WR 1
75 Sims Stokes 1967 1967 3 WR 1
76 Randal Williams 2003 2003 15 WR 1
77 Tom Braatz 1960 1960 12 E 1
78 Ray Mathews 1960 1960 6 E 1
79 Dave Sherer 1960 1960 11 E 1
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 3/3/2011.

Plenty of options, but I’m going to limit the poll to the following:

1. Pearson: He is the only player on the first team of the 1970s All-Decade team who is not in the Hall. Now that is underappreciated.

2. Hill: He quietly led the team in receiving for eight consecutive years.

3. Harper: More playoff success than overall success, but those playoff catches won’t be forgotten.

4. Rentzel: Many forget that Rentzel was a 1,000-yard receiver at one point. Moreover, in 1969, he averaged more than 22 yards per reception and scored 12 touchdowns in only 14 games. Then again, it’s also hard to forget why Dallas had to let him go.

5. Clarke: He was the team’s first 1,000-yard receiver and also set a record with 14 touchdowns.

I left several off this list, such as Terrell Owens (who simply cannot be considered underappreciated by any standard), Miles Austin, Butch Johnson, Terry Glenn, and Kevin Williams.

Here are the results:

Pearson, 38%
Hill, 26%
Clarke, 18%
Rentzel, 12%
Harper, 6%

  • Timothytrump

    I voted for Franke Clark because he is the most forgotten by older Dallas fans or never known by those more recent. If you so choose, it is interesting to review his career (on Pro Football Reference) in those early years of the franchise. Along with Billy Howton, he gave Dallas a fairly potent receiving corps given that this was an expansion franchise. Clarke would be paired along the way with HOF’ers Tommy McDonald, Buddy Dial and Bob Hayes, and except for his last year (1967) maintained his production. A sizable receiver for his time, he was sometimes used as a TE. Finally, Clarke was a major factor in the 1966 NFL Championship game, catching a long pass to put Dallas within one score and completely outrunning the GB secondary.

  • Anonymous

    I went with Pearson and Clarke. The latter was before my time, but he was clearly one of the big weapons of the Cowboys in the early years. He was as productive as Bob Hayes and Lance Rentzel were later, even though the talent around Clarke was usually pretty weak.

    Pearson was just too obvious. I don’t think the others lacked appreciation. They were simply overshadowed by better #1 receivers.

  • Abelardo Villarreal

    Talks about falling between the cracks within your own organization, the Cowboys have failed Drew Pearson by refusing to induct him in to the ROH. It is easy to see how the writers all across America can easily dismiss his accomplishments by bringing this one little fact up.

    Frank Clarke was one hell of a find, when released the Cleveland Browns remains largely forgotten by some of the fans. I’m 32 years old and a few months ago Bob Lilly was here in San Antonio signing autographs at the mall.

    Several individuals wearing Dallas Cowboy gear would casually stop by while we were in line and ask, “who’s here”?

    We’d reply with Bob Lilly – to which we almost always got back, “who’s that”?

    Easily one of the top 3 Greatest players in Dallas history, now that’s underappreciation!

  • Krl97a

    Lance Rentzel tore up the league alongside Bob Hayes for a few years, and yet he almost never gets mentioned. That may have been the most explosive top 2 WR tandem in franchise history. There’s no telling how great he would have been if he hadn’t derailed his own career. At least Pearson, Hill, and even Clarke (my other vote here) get talked about by Cowboys fans.