Greatest Players by Number

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This series reviews every player in the history of the Dallas Cowboys, organized by their jersey numbers.

 

Greatest Cowboys By Their Jersey Numbers: #58

Part of the Greatest Players by Number Series

Jersey #58

Nine players, all linebackers, have worn #58 for the Cowboys.

Joe Bowden, LB, Oklahoma, 2000

Statistics: Bowden recorded 16 tackles with the Cowboys.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played one season in Dallas.

Intangibles: The Cowboys signed Bowden from Tennessee following the 1999 season. He had been a starter with the Oilers/Titans, but he was limited mostly to special teams play with the Cowboys.

Dixon Edwards, LB, Michigan State, 1991-95

Dixon EdwardsStatistics: Edwards recorded 216 tackles, 30 assists, and 2.5 sacks with the Cowboys.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played five seasons with the Cowboys.

Intangibles: Edwards was one of the speed linebackers of the 1990s Cowboys. He did not receive the recognition that other players received, but the Cowboys continued to try to replace him after he left via free agency following the 1995 season.

Jeff Grau, LS, UCLA, 2002

Statistics: n/a

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played one season in Dallas.

Intangibles: Grau was a draft choice of the Redskins in 2002, joining the Cowboys after his release by Washington. He played special teams and was gone after one year.

Mike Hegman, LB, Tennessee State, 1976-87

Mike HegmanStatistics: He officially recorded 15.5 sacks and seven interceptions.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played 12 seasons with the Cowboys.

Intangibles: Hegman was unspectacular but steady for many seasons. He seldom made mistakes. He became a starter when Dallas released Hollywood Henderson in 1979, and he remained there until a broken leg in 1987 ended his season and career.

Nate Hemsley, LB, Syracuse, 1997-99

Statistics: n/a

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played three seasons in Dallas.

Intangibles: Hemsley was on the team for three seasons, but he often did not appear on the active roster. He started a few games with Carolina later in his career.

Jeff Hurd, LB, Kansas State, 1987

Statistics: n/a

Accolades: None.

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

Intangibles: Hurd was originally signed as a replacement player but also got to see action when he was resigned later in the 1987 season, his only as a pro.

Louis Mackey, LB, Akron, 2001-02

Statistics: He had three tackles with the Cowboys.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played two seasons in Dallas.

Intangibles: Mackey made the team in 2001 but seldom made the active roster. He played more on special teams in 2002, which was his final NFL season.

Calvin Peterson, LB, UCLA, 1974-75

Statistics: Peterson recorded one interception with the Cowboys.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played two seasons in Dallas.

Intangibles: After playing special teams with the Cowboys in 1975, he was picked up by Tampa Bay in the 1976 expansion draft.

Scott Shanle, LB, Nebraska, 2004-05

Scott ShanleStatistics: Shanle recorded 54 tackles and 20 assists with the Cowboys.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played two seasons in Dallas.

Intangibles: Dallas signed Shanle from St. Louis, and he was a good special teams player and backup linebacker with the Cowboys for two seasons. New Orleans signed him as a free agent in 2006, and he has been a starter with the Saints for two years.

Poll

Here is your chance to vote for the greatest player to wear #58.

Greatest #58

  • Mike Hegman (60%, 73 Votes)
  • Dixon Edwards (36%, 44 Votes)
  • Jeff Grau (2%, 2 Votes)
  • Nate Hemsley (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Jeff Hurd (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Scott Shanle (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Joe Bowden (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Louis Mackey (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Calvin Peterson (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 122

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My Vote: Hegman

Mike HegmanHegman is the answer to a few trivia questions that may be of interest. First, he was the only member of the draft class of 1975 who did not make the team as a rookie but who made the team the following year (outlasting everyone else in that draft class other than Randy White). Second, he was the player who scored a touchdown in a fumble recovery in Super Bowl XIII after he and Hollywood Henderson hit Terry Bradshaw. Some mistakenly think that Henderson was the one who scored. And third, he was a college teammate of Ed “Too Tall” Jones at Tennessee State.

Edwards was much like Hegman– unspectacular but solid. However, Edwards did not play nearly as long as Hegman, so it would be tough to say Edwards deserves this. The others on this list were mostly backups.

Greatest Cowboys By Their Jersey Numbers: #58

Part of the Greatest Players by Number Series

Jersey #58

Nine players, all linebackers, have worn #58 for the Cowboys.

Joe Bowden, LB, Oklahoma, 2000

Statistics: Bowden recorded 16 tackles with the Cowboys.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played one season in Dallas.

Intangibles: The Cowboys signed Bowden from Tennessee following the 1999 season. He had been a starter with the Oilers/Titans, but he was limited mostly to special teams play with the Cowboys.

Dixon Edwards, LB, Michigan State, 1991-95

Dixon EdwardsStatistics: Edwards recorded 216 tackles, 30 assists, and 2.5 sacks with the Cowboys.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played five seasons with the Cowboys.

Intangibles: Edwards was one of the speed linebackers of the 1990s Cowboys. He did not receive the recognition that other players received, but the Cowboys continued to try to replace him after he left via free agency following the 1995 season.

Jeff Grau, LS, UCLA, 2002

Statistics: n/a

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played one season in Dallas.

Intangibles: Grau was a draft choice of the Redskins in 2002, joining the Cowboys after his release by Washington. He played special teams and was gone after one year.

Mike Hegman, LB, Tennessee State, 1976-87

Mike HegmanStatistics: He officially recorded 15.5 sacks and seven interceptions.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played 12 seasons with the Cowboys.

Intangibles: Hegman was unspectacular but steady for many seasons. He seldom made mistakes. He became a starter when Dallas released Hollywood Henderson in 1979, and he remained there until a broken leg in 1987 ended his season and career.

Nate Hemsley, LB, Syracuse, 1997-99

Statistics: n/a

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played three seasons in Dallas.

Intangibles: Hemsley was on the team for three seasons, but he often did not appear on the active roster. He started a few games with Carolina later in his career.

Jeff Hurd, LB, Kansas State, 1987

Statistics: n/a

Accolades: None.

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

Intangibles: Hurd was originally signed as a replacement player but also got to see action when he was resigned later in the 1987 season, his only as a pro.

Louis Mackey, LB, Akron, 2001-02

Statistics: He had three tackles with the Cowboys.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played two seasons in Dallas.

Intangibles: Mackey made the team in 2001 but seldom made the active roster. He played more on special teams in 2002, which was his final NFL season.

Calvin Peterson, LB, UCLA, 1974-75

Statistics: Peterson recorded one interception with the Cowboys.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played two seasons in Dallas.

Intangibles: After playing special teams with the Cowboys in 1975, he was picked up by Tampa Bay in the 1976 expansion draft.

Scott Shanle, LB, Nebraska, 2004-05

Scott ShanleStatistics: Shanle recorded 54 tackles and 20 assists with the Cowboys.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played two seasons in Dallas.

Intangibles: Dallas signed Shanle from St. Louis, and he was a good special teams player and backup linebacker with the Cowboys for two seasons. New Orleans signed him as a free agent in 2006, and he has been a starter with the Saints for two years.

Poll

Here is your chance to vote for the greatest player to wear #58.

Greatest #58

  • Mike Hegman (60%, 73 Votes)
  • Dixon Edwards (36%, 44 Votes)
  • Jeff Grau (2%, 2 Votes)
  • Nate Hemsley (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Jeff Hurd (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Scott Shanle (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Joe Bowden (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Louis Mackey (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Calvin Peterson (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 122

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My Vote: Hegman

Mike HegmanHegman is the answer to a few trivia questions that may be of interest. First, he was the only member of the draft class of 1975 who did not make the team as a rookie but who made the team the following year (outlasting everyone else in that draft class other than Randy White). Second, he was the player who scored a touchdown in a fumble recovery in Super Bowl XIII after he and Hollywood Henderson hit Terry Bradshaw. Some mistakenly think that Henderson was the one who scored. And third, he was a college teammate of Ed “Too Tall” Jones at Tennessee State.

Edwards was much like Hegman– unspectacular but solid. However, Edwards did not play nearly as long as Hegman, so it would be tough to say Edwards deserves this. The others on this list were mostly backups.

Greatest Cowboys By Their Jersey Numbers: #57

Part of the Greatest Players by Number Series

Jersey #57

Thirteen players, including 11 linebackers and two centers, have worn #57 for the Cowboys.

Kevin Burnett, LB, Tennessee, 2005-

Kevin BurnettStatistics: Burnett has 87 solo tackles, 22 assists, one interception, and two sacks.

Accolades: None so far.

Longevity: He will enter his fourth season in 2008.

Intangibles: A second-round pick in 2005, Burnett has improved each season he has been on the team. Depending on a variety of circumstances, he may very well move into a starting role this year.

Ron Burton, LB, North Carolina, 1987-89

Statistics: Burton recorded two sacks with the Cowboys.

Accolades: None.

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

Intangibles: Burton was originally a free agent pickup who developed into a part-time starter. However, when Jimmy Johnson arrived in 1989, his days were numbered. He finished his career playing with Phoenix and the L.A. Raiders.

Alan Campos, LB, Louisville, 1996

Statistics: n/a

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played one season with Dallas.

Intangibles: Campos was a special teams player in 1996, his only season in the league.

Quentin Coryatt, LB, Texas A&M, 1999

Statistics: Coryatt recorded one tackle with the Cowboys.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played four games with the Cowboys.

Intangibles: Dallas signed Coryatt in 1999 to team up with former teammate Kevin Smith. However, he suffered through some injuries and was released in the middle of the season.

Kyle Davis, C, Oklahoma, 1975

Statistics: n/a

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played one season with the Cowboys.

Intangibles: Davis was part of the Dirty Dozen draft of 1975. He saw some action deep-snapping in 1975 but was injured in 1976. He was out of football until 1978, when he played for San Francisco.

Mike Keller, LB, Michigan, 1972

Statistics: n/a

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played one season in Dallas.

Intangibles: He was a special teams player in 1972 but suffered an injury prior the 1973 season and never played again.

Angelo King, LB, South Carolina State, 1981-83

Statistics: King recovered two fumbles with the Cowboys.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played three seasons for Dallas.

Intangibles: He was a special teams player for three seasons before being traded to Detroit, where he was a part-time starter.

Vinson Smith, LB, East Carolina, 1990-92, 1997

Vinson SmithStatistics: Smith recorded 177 solo tackles with the Cowboys.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played a total of four seasons with the Cowboys.

Intangibles: Smith developed into a starter in 1991 and 1992. However, with the emergence of Dixon Edwards, he was traded to Chicago prior to the 1993 season. He remained there until 1997 when he returned to Dallas as a free agent. He started a few games in 1997 before moving on again to play for the Saints.

Russ Swan, LB, Virginia, 1987

Statistics: n/a

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He was a replacement player in 1987, his only in the league.

Intangibles: After starting all three scrub games, the Cowboys brought Swan back to play in two more games towards the end of the 1987 season.

Jimmie Turner, LB, Presbyterian, 1984

Statistics: n/a

Accolades: None.

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

Intangibles: He was mostly a special teams player during his short career in Dallas.

Louie Walker, LB, Colorado State, 1974

Statistics: n/a

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played one season in Dallas.

Intangibles: Walker was cut during training camp in 1974 but returned to play the final eight games, mostly on special teams.

Malcolm Walker, C, Rice, 1966-69

Statistics: n/a

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played four seasons with Dallas.

Intangibles: Walker developed into the starting center in 1968 while Dave Manders was recovering from an injury. However, Walker was injured the following year and was traded for Herb Adderley prior to the 1970 season.

Barron Wortham, LB, Texas-El Paso, 2000

Barron WorthamStatistics: Wortham recorded 55 tackles for the Cowboys.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played one season in Dallas.

Intangibles: Wortham was signed from the defending AFC Champion Tennessee Titans in 2000. Dallas expected him to shore up the linebacking corps, and he started several games during a bad season.

Poll

Here is your chance to vote for the greatest player to wear #57.

Greatest #57

  • Kevin Burnett (60%, 67 Votes)
  • Vinson Smith (31%, 34 Votes)
  • Alan Campos (3%, 3 Votes)
  • Malcolm Walker (2%, 2 Votes)
  • Kyle Davis (2%, 2 Votes)
  • Angelo King (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Ron Burton (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Barron Wortham (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Mike Keller (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Quentin Coryatt (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Russ Swan (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Jimmie Turner (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Louie Walker (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 111

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My Vote: Burnett

Kevin BurnettThis is not an especially strong list, and two of the players (Vinson Smith and Barron Wortham) started more games than Burnett has. However, Burnett has had to back up the likes of DeMarcus Ware and Greg Ellis, and my pick here is one of confidence that Burnett will get his chance. If nothing else, Burnett has one of the better-looking player websites, and he has become a guest blogger for the Dallas Morning News. His career highlight thus far was the interception return for a touchdown against Indianapolis in 2006 (as show in the picture).

Greatest Cowboys By Their Jersey Numbers: #57

Part of the Greatest Players by Number Series

Jersey #57

Thirteen players, including 11 linebackers and two centers, have worn #57 for the Cowboys.

Kevin Burnett, LB, Tennessee, 2005-

Kevin BurnettStatistics: Burnett has 87 solo tackles, 22 assists, one interception, and two sacks.

Accolades: None so far.

Longevity: He will enter his fourth season in 2008.

Intangibles: A second-round pick in 2005, Burnett has improved each season he has been on the team. Depending on a variety of circumstances, he may very well move into a starting role this year.

Ron Burton, LB, North Carolina, 1987-89

Statistics: Burton recorded two sacks with the Cowboys.

Accolades: None.

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

Intangibles: Burton was originally a free agent pickup who developed into a part-time starter. However, when Jimmy Johnson arrived in 1989, his days were numbered. He finished his career playing with Phoenix and the L.A. Raiders.

Alan Campos, LB, Louisville, 1996

Statistics: n/a

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played one season with Dallas.

Intangibles: Campos was a special teams player in 1996, his only season in the league.

Quentin Coryatt, LB, Texas A&M, 1999

Statistics: Coryatt recorded one tackle with the Cowboys.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played four games with the Cowboys.

Intangibles: Dallas signed Coryatt in 1999 to team up with former teammate Kevin Smith. However, he suffered through some injuries and was released in the middle of the season.

Kyle Davis, C, Oklahoma, 1975

Statistics: n/a

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played one season with the Cowboys.

Intangibles: Davis was part of the Dirty Dozen draft of 1975. He saw some action deep-snapping in 1975 but was injured in 1976. He was out of football until 1978, when he played for San Francisco.

Mike Keller, LB, Michigan, 1972

Statistics: n/a

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played one season in Dallas.

Intangibles: He was a special teams player in 1972 but suffered an injury prior the 1973 season and never played again.

Angelo King, LB, South Carolina State, 1981-83

Statistics: King recovered two fumbles with the Cowboys.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played three seasons for Dallas.

Intangibles: He was a special teams player for three seasons before being traded to Detroit, where he was a part-time starter.

Vinson Smith, LB, East Carolina, 1990-92, 1997

Vinson SmithStatistics: Smith recorded 177 solo tackles with the Cowboys.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played a total of four seasons with the Cowboys.

Intangibles: Smith developed into a starter in 1991 and 1992. However, with the emergence of Dixon Edwards, he was traded to Chicago prior to the 1993 season. He remained there until 1997 when he returned to Dallas as a free agent. He started a few games in 1997 before moving on again to play for the Saints.

Russ Swan, LB, Virginia, 1987

Statistics: n/a

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He was a replacement player in 1987, his only in the league.

Intangibles: After starting all three scrub games, the Cowboys brought Swan back to play in two more games towards the end of the 1987 season.

Jimmie Turner, LB, Presbyterian, 1984

Statistics: n/a

Accolades: None.

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

Intangibles: He was mostly a special teams player during his short career in Dallas.

Louie Walker, LB, Colorado State, 1974

Statistics: n/a

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played one season in Dallas.

Intangibles: Walker was cut during training camp in 1974 but returned to play the final eight games, mostly on special teams.

Malcolm Walker, C, Rice, 1966-69

Statistics: n/a

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played four seasons with Dallas.

Intangibles: Walker developed into the starting center in 1968 while Dave Manders was recovering from an injury. However, Walker was injured the following year and was traded for Herb Adderley prior to the 1970 season.

Barron Wortham, LB, Texas-El Paso, 2000

Barron WorthamStatistics: Wortham recorded 55 tackles for the Cowboys.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played one season in Dallas.

Intangibles: Wortham was signed from the defending AFC Champion Tennessee Titans in 2000. Dallas expected him to shore up the linebacking corps, and he started several games during a bad season.

Poll

Here is your chance to vote for the greatest player to wear #57.

Greatest #57

  • Kevin Burnett (60%, 67 Votes)
  • Vinson Smith (31%, 34 Votes)
  • Alan Campos (3%, 3 Votes)
  • Malcolm Walker (2%, 2 Votes)
  • Kyle Davis (2%, 2 Votes)
  • Angelo King (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Ron Burton (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Barron Wortham (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Mike Keller (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Quentin Coryatt (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Russ Swan (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Jimmie Turner (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Louie Walker (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 111

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My Vote: Burnett

Kevin BurnettThis is not an especially strong list, and two of the players (Vinson Smith and Barron Wortham) started more games than Burnett has. However, Burnett has had to back up the likes of DeMarcus Ware and Greg Ellis, and my pick here is one of confidence that Burnett will get his chance. If nothing else, Burnett has one of the better-looking player websites, and he has become a guest blogger for the Dallas Morning News. His career highlight thus far was the interception return for a touchdown against Indianapolis in 2006 (as show in the picture).

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.

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.

Greatest Cowboys By Their Jersey Numbers: #55

Part of the Greatest Players by Number Series

Jersey #55

Twelve players, all linebackers, have worn #55 for the Cowboys.

Jack Del Rio, LB, Southern California, 1989-91

Statistics: Del Rio had 292 tackles with the Cowboys.

Accolades: None with Dallas.

Longevity: He played three seasons with the Cowboys.

Intangibles: Del Rio, the current coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, revived his career with the Cowboys in 1989 after being released by Kansas City. He replaced Eugene Lockhart in the middle in 1991 and was a quality starter. He then moved on to Minnesota for several years.

Steve DeOssie, LB, Boston College, 1984-88

Statistics: Unofficially, DeOssie had 70 tackles with the Cowboys.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played five seasons in Dallas before being traded to the New York Giants.

Intangibles: DeOssie was a backup for most of his time in Dallas. He was a member of the Super Bowl team of the Giants in 1990, and he was able to extend his career into the 1990s through his deep-snapping ability.

Harry Flaherty, LB, Holy Cross, 1987

Statistics: He was a replacement player in 1987.

Accolades: n/a

Longevity: He played two games during the 1987 strike.

Intangibles: n/a

Ryan Fowler, LB, Duke, 2004-06

Statistics: Fowler had 41 tackles with the Cowboys.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played three seasons in Dallas.

Intangibles: Fowler was a backup for three years before moving on to Tennessee in 2007. He started 14 games with the Titans in 2007.

Lemanski Hall, LB, Alabama, 1999

Statistics: n/a

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played one season with the Cowboys.

Intangibles: He became a starter with the Vikings but did very little in Dallas.

Bruce Huther, LB, New Hampshire, 1977-80, 1983

Statistics: n/a

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played five seasons in Dallas.

Intangibles: Huther was known as a special teams standout during the Super Bowl years in 1977 and 1978 and even recovered a fumbled punt in Super Bowl XII. He left after the 1980s season to play for Cleveland and Chicago but returned for one more season in Dallas in 1983.

Robert Jones, LB, East Carolina, 1992-95

Statistics: Jones had 283 tackles with the Cowboys.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played four seasons with the Cowboys.

Intangibles: Jones was a first-round pick in 1992 and became the team’s starting middle linebacker as a rookie. He lost his job, however, during the 1993 season when the Cowboys moved Ken Norton to the middle. Once Norton left via free agency after that 1993 season, Jones returned to his starting role, and he was the starter during the Super Bowl team of 1995. He left via free agency after the 1995 season.

Lee Roy Jordan, LB, Alabama, 1963-76

Statistics: Jordan had 743 career tackles and 32 career interceptions.

Accolades: Five Pro Bowls and one All-Pro team. He was named to the Ring of Honor in 1989.

Longevity: Jordan played 14 seasons in the NFL, all with Dallas.

Intangibles: Jordan led the Dallas defense for more than a decade. A meticulous student of the game off the field, Jordan was the perfect middle linebacker for Tom Landry’s flex defense. He retired as the team’s all-time leading tackler and held that record until Darren Woodson surpassed it.

Danny Spradlin, LB, Tennessee, 1981-82

Statistics: n/a

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played two seasons in Dallas.

Intangibles: Spradlin struggled to learn the flex defense in Dallas and was traded after two uneventful seasons.

Markus Steele, LB, Southern California, 2001-03

Statistics: Steele recorded 46 tackles with the Cowboys.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played three seasons in Dallas.

Intangibles: Steele was a fourth-round pick who started several games for the bad 2001 team. He saw progressively less action during the next two seasons, and he was gone after 2003.

Fred Strickland, LB, Purdue, 1996-98

Statistics: Strickland had 199 tackles with the Cowboys.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played three seasons in Dallas.

Intangibles: Dallas signed Strickland from Green Bay in 1996 to replace the departed Robert Jones (see above). Strickland was not the speed linebacker that Jones was, but Strickland was probably a smarter player. He was a quality starter for three years.

Poll

Here is your chance to vote for the greatest player to wear #55.

Greatest #55

  • Lee Roy Jordan (82%, 127 Votes)
  • Jack Del Rio (10%, 16 Votes)
  • Robert Jones (2%, 3 Votes)
  • Fred Strickland (2%, 3 Votes)
  • Ryan Fowler (1%, 2 Votes)
  • Harry Flaherty (1%, 2 Votes)
  • Steve DeOssie (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Danny Spradlin (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Lemanski Hall (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Bruce Huther (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Tyson Smith (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Markus Steele (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 155

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My Vote: Jordan

Lee Roy JordanThe Cowboys made their first mark not as America’s Team, but primarily thanks to the Doomsday Defense. And the flex defense system behind Doomsday was dependent on players reading their keys and reacting according to how the system told them to react. No player mastered the flex like Lee Roy Jordan, which made him the perfect middle linebacker in a defensive system that helped the Cowboys make their mark in the 1960s and 1970s.

Jack Del Rio might be more familiar to younger viewers because he is a current NFL coach. With the Cowboys, however, he could not hold a candle to Jordan. Same is true of Robert Jones and Fred Strickland.

Greatest Cowboys By Their Jersey Numbers: #55

Part of the Greatest Players by Number Series

Jersey #55

Twelve players, all linebackers, have worn #55 for the Cowboys.

Jack Del Rio, LB, Southern California, 1989-91

Statistics: Del Rio had 292 tackles with the Cowboys.

Accolades: None with Dallas.

Longevity: He played three seasons with the Cowboys.

Intangibles: Del Rio, the current coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, revived his career with the Cowboys in 1989 after being released by Kansas City. He replaced Eugene Lockhart in the middle in 1991 and was a quality starter. He then moved on to Minnesota for several years.

Steve DeOssie, LB, Boston College, 1984-88

Statistics: Unofficially, DeOssie had 70 tackles with the Cowboys.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played five seasons in Dallas before being traded to the New York Giants.

Intangibles: DeOssie was a backup for most of his time in Dallas. He was a member of the Super Bowl team of the Giants in 1990, and he was able to extend his career into the 1990s through his deep-snapping ability.

Harry Flaherty, LB, Holy Cross, 1987

Statistics: He was a replacement player in 1987.

Accolades: n/a

Longevity: He played two games during the 1987 strike.

Intangibles: n/a

Ryan Fowler, LB, Duke, 2004-06

Statistics: Fowler had 41 tackles with the Cowboys.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played three seasons in Dallas.

Intangibles: Fowler was a backup for three years before moving on to Tennessee in 2007. He started 14 games with the Titans in 2007.

Lemanski Hall, LB, Alabama, 1999

Statistics: n/a

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played one season with the Cowboys.

Intangibles: He became a starter with the Vikings but did very little in Dallas.

Bruce Huther, LB, New Hampshire, 1977-80, 1983

Statistics: n/a

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played five seasons in Dallas.

Intangibles: Huther was known as a special teams standout during the Super Bowl years in 1977 and 1978 and even recovered a fumbled punt in Super Bowl XII. He left after the 1980s season to play for Cleveland and Chicago but returned for one more season in Dallas in 1983.

Robert Jones, LB, East Carolina, 1992-95

Statistics: Jones had 283 tackles with the Cowboys.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played four seasons with the Cowboys.

Intangibles: Jones was a first-round pick in 1992 and became the team’s starting middle linebacker as a rookie. He lost his job, however, during the 1993 season when the Cowboys moved Ken Norton to the middle. Once Norton left via free agency after that 1993 season, Jones returned to his starting role, and he was the starter during the Super Bowl team of 1995. He left via free agency after the 1995 season.

Lee Roy Jordan, LB, Alabama, 1963-76

Statistics: Jordan had 743 career tackles and 32 career interceptions.

Accolades: Five Pro Bowls and one All-Pro team. He was named to the Ring of Honor in 1989.

Longevity: Jordan played 14 seasons in the NFL, all with Dallas.

Intangibles: Jordan led the Dallas defense for more than a decade. A meticulous student of the game off the field, Jordan was the perfect middle linebacker for Tom Landry’s flex defense. He retired as the team’s all-time leading tackler and held that record until Darren Woodson surpassed it.

Danny Spradlin, LB, Tennessee, 1981-82

Statistics: n/a

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played two seasons in Dallas.

Intangibles: Spradlin struggled to learn the flex defense in Dallas and was traded after two uneventful seasons.

Markus Steele, LB, Southern California, 2001-03

Statistics: Steele recorded 46 tackles with the Cowboys.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played three seasons in Dallas.

Intangibles: Steele was a fourth-round pick who started several games for the bad 2001 team. He saw progressively less action during the next two seasons, and he was gone after 2003.

Fred Strickland, LB, Purdue, 1996-98

Statistics: Strickland had 199 tackles with the Cowboys.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played three seasons in Dallas.

Intangibles: Dallas signed Strickland from Green Bay in 1996 to replace the departed Robert Jones (see above). Strickland was not the speed linebacker that Jones was, but Strickland was probably a smarter player. He was a quality starter for three years.

Poll

Here is your chance to vote for the greatest player to wear #55.

Greatest #55

  • Lee Roy Jordan (82%, 127 Votes)
  • Jack Del Rio (10%, 16 Votes)
  • Robert Jones (2%, 3 Votes)
  • Fred Strickland (2%, 3 Votes)
  • Ryan Fowler (1%, 2 Votes)
  • Harry Flaherty (1%, 2 Votes)
  • Steve DeOssie (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Danny Spradlin (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Lemanski Hall (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Bruce Huther (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Tyson Smith (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Markus Steele (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 155

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My Vote: Jordan

Lee Roy JordanThe Cowboys made their first mark not as America’s Team, but primarily thanks to the Doomsday Defense. And the flex defense system behind Doomsday was dependent on players reading their keys and reacting according to how the system told them to react. No player mastered the flex like Lee Roy Jordan, which made him the perfect middle linebacker in a defensive system that helped the Cowboys make their mark in the 1960s and 1970s.

Jack Del Rio might be more familiar to younger viewers because he is a current NFL coach. With the Cowboys, however, he could not hold a candle to Jordan. Same is true of Robert Jones and Fred Strickland.

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…

Poll

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.

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…

Poll

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.