Dallas Cowboys History in Quotes: The Leon Lett Incidents

Leon Lett
Leon Lett gave the Dolphins second life in 1993 by trying to recover the ball after a blocked field goal attempt.

The Dallas Cowboys announced this week that former defensive lineman Leon Lett will join the staff as assistant defensive line coach. He previously helped the Cowboys during training camp in 2011.

Of course, none of us have forgotten about the Leon Lett stories of the 1990s. Although Lett was very important to the team’s success in 1995, his gaffes remain legendary.

As part of the Dallas Cowboys history in quotes series, here are three quotes about these gaffes.

“How could I hear someone that small and that fast. I was the one making all the noise.”

Lett about Don Beebe, who stripped Lett of the football in Super Bowl XXVII before Lett could score. Had Lett scored, the Cowboys would have won 59-17 and set a Super Bowl record for points scored.

Source: New York Times, Feb. 1, 1993

“After that play, I kind of felt if we didn’t make it [to the Super Bowl], it would’ve been my fault.”

Lett in his first meeting with the press after he cost the Cowboys a win over the Miami Dolphins by trying to recover the ball after Dallas blocked a game-winning field goal attempt at the end of the Thanksgiving Day game. Dolphin kicker Pete Stoyanovich got a second chance and kicked a 19-yard field goal to give Miami the win.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, January 26, 1994

“This is a time of concern for Leon Lett the person. Our thoughts are with him and his family and we will continue to offer our help and support in any way we can.”

Jerry Jones in a statement after the NFL suspended Lett for a year for testing positive for cocaine. Lett missed parts of the 1996 and 1997 seasons because of the suspension.

Did You Know?

Although Lett was a vital member of the Dallas defensive lines of the 1990s, his contributions did not show up in the stat columns. He never recorded more than four sacks or 36 tackles in a single season. Other defensive tackles of the era, including Jimmie Jones, Chad Hennings, and Hurvin McCormack (yes, that Hurvin McCormack) had better numbers on paper.

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Dallas Cowboys History in Quotes: Cowboys vs. Giants

Herschel Walker
The New York Giants had no interest in trading for Herschel Walker in 1989.

In light of the NFL’s announcement that the Cowboys will face the New York Giants to open the 2012 season, here is a Dallas Cowboys history in quotes entry focusing on the Cowboys and Giants.

“The understatement of the year would be that Dallas just has a pretty good defense. It’s the best defense I’ve ever seen them play.”

Giant QB Fran Tarkenton after the Cowboys routed the Giants 25-3 on October 27, 1969. The Giants only managed 166 yards in the loss.

Source: Associated Press, October 28, 1969

“When you play like this and win, it makes everybody feel good. It’s nothing to jump up and down about though, because we’re still in second place and we’ve got to go play the division leader next week.”

Dallas RB Tony Dorsett after the Cowboys beat the Giants 28-7 on December 3, 1979. Dallas beat the Eagles a week later to set up a season finale for all the marbles against the Redskins.

Source: Associated Press, Dec. 4, 1979

“We’re always appreciative of anyone who feels that way, but our focus is on our team.”

Giants general manager George Young, who said his team had no interest in acquiring Herschel Walker in 1989 after Walker expressed interest in playing for New York. The Giants eventually signed Walker in 1995. Dallas traded Walker to the Minnesota Vikings just one day later.

Source: New York Times, Oct. 12, 1989

“All you have to do to stop Emmitt is keep going to the ball. Keep him from cutting back.”

Giant LB Mike Croel before the Cowboys faced the Giants on Monday Night Football to open the 1995 season. Emmitt Smith rushed for 163 yards and four touchdowns in a 35-0 Dallas win.


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Cowboys Will Visit the Giants to Open the 2012 Season

Emmitt Smith 1995
Emmitt Smith rushed for 163 yards and four touchdowns in 1995, the last time Dallas faced the Giants in New Jersey for the opening game.

The big news this week is that the Cowboys will open their 2012 season at Met Life Stadium. The teams will play on a Wednesday night (September 5) because President Barack Obama is scheduled to speak before the Democratic National Convention on Thursday that week.

The 2012 season marks the sixth time that Dallas has faced the Giants in the opening week. Here is a summary of those other five games:

September 19, 1965: at Cowboys 31, Giants 2

Only two opponents in Dallas history have scored a total of two points (obviously from a safety). The first time this happened was in a 31-2 blowout win for Dallas.

September 18, 1966: at Cowboys 52, Giants 7

The Giants did not have better luck in 1966. Dallas has scored 50 or more points in only eight regular season games. Three of those games came in 1966 alone.

September 8, 1986: at Cowboys 31, Giants 28

This game marked Herschel Walker’s debut with Dallas. He scored the game-winner with a 10-yard run late in the fourth quarter of this Monday Night classic.

September 4, 1995: Cowboys 35, at Giants 0

The only other time the Cowboys opened a season by visiting the Giants was in 1995. Emmitt Smith kick-started the season with a 60-yard touchdown run. This was the Cowboys’ first shutout win over the Giants in their long history.

September 9, 2007: Cowboys 45, Giants 35

The Cowboys stormed out of the gate in 2007 by scoring 45 against the Giants at Texas Stadium. Dallas beat the Giants again later in the season en route to a 13-3 record. However, New York beat Dallas in the playoffs and went on to win the Super Bowl.


Dirk Nowitzki Is More Beloved Than All of the Cowboys Legends

Forget your Cowboys. Dirk Nowitzki is the most beloved athlete in Dallas.

I previously posted a brief story showing that fans on ESPN had considered Dirk Nowitzki to be more beloved than former Cowboys head coach Tom Landry.

Okay. Younger fans don’t know Tom Landry. He passed away 12 years ago. I get it.

But the poll didn’t end there. Nowitzki then earned more votes than Roger Staubach to make the finals of this competition. The vote between Nowitzki and Landry (51%-49%) was actually closer than the Nowitzki/Staubach vote (57%-43%).

Emmitt Smith edged out Troy Aikman for the other spot in the finals, meaning that Smith was the Cowboys’ last chance to knock off the big German. It didn’t happen, and now Dirk Nowitzki is hailed as the most beloved Dallas athlete in history.


My theories:

1. Most of the 161,622 who participated must have been younger. A 21-year-old was only five years old when the Cowboys last played in a Super Bowl. I doubt that is cemented in his mind the way that Nowitzki’s heroics are. Roger Staubach and Tom Landry represent ancient history.

2. It’s basketball season, so the site had more basketball fans. Test my theory by running this poll in September.

3. I’m old and cantankerous and just can’t accept that a member of the Dallas Mavericks is more beloved than all these Cowboys. (I’m not even sure how this theory got here, but I’ll leave it in anyway).

Dallas Cowboys History in Quotes: Early Team History

Dallas Cowboys history Cornell Green
One of today’s quotes is about former defensive back Cornell Green (34).

Continuing to focus on early Dallas Cowboys history. Today’s quotes are about players from the 1960s and early 1970s.

“I hope I can hit him. I’ve been throwing to LeBaron, and you can’t hardly throw any lower than that.”

Don Meredith about throwing to receiver Cleveland (Smiley) Jones, who was three inches shorter than Eddie LeBaron, who was 5’7″. Jones did not play for the Cowboys outside of training camp.

Source: Sports Illustrated, July 16, 1961

“This ought to teach us one thing: if we ever trade any more ballplayers, we sure don’t want to send any silver-tongued orators.”

Defensive end George Andrie regarding inspirational talks given by former teammates Tommy McDonald and Jerry Rhome.

Source: Sports Illustrated, November 17, 1969

“He told me I was one of the best defensive backs he had ever coached or had ever sen. That really made me feel good.”

Defensive back Cornell Green about what Tom Landry said to him after Green retired following the 1974 season.

Source: I Remember Tom Landry (2001).

More on Cornell Green…

Green is one of the most underappreciated players in team history. I played both cornerback and strong safety and made the Pro Bowl at both positions. He was also named All-Pro three times in the 1960s.

If that occurred today, he would be at the top of any list for Ring of Honor consideration, and he would have a good chance to make the Hall of Fame.

Dallas Cowboys History in Quotes: Super Bowl V

dallas cowboys history
Neither Chuck Howley (54) nor Mel Renfro (20) could get high enough to block Jim O’Brien’s game-winning field goal in Super Bowl V.

Few losses in Dallas Cowboys history were as frustrating as the team’s loss in Super Bowl V to the Baltimore Colts. Dallas held a 13-6 lead at halftime and should have increased that lead to 20-6 if not for a bad call on a goal line fumble. The Colts tied the game at 13 in the fourth quarter before winning it on a field goal by rookie Jim O’Brien.

Here are some quotes about that game:

“So it became the Stupor Bowl, with the new world champions giving up the football on seven turnovers–four lost fumbles and three interceptions–which theoretically should have meant a rout. And the losing Cowboys, obviously superior in personnel except in the vital offensive spot, turning over the ball four times themselves, getting nicked for 120 yards in penalties and even ticking the ball into the hands of alert John Mackey for one of the two Baltimore touchdowns.”

Columnist Murray Olderman, who did not think highly of Dallas QB Craig Morton. Other writers called the game the Blunder Bowl, which stuck.

Source: The Sumter (S.C.) Daily Item, Jan. 22, 1971

“My arm was the same as it has been the last few weeks.”

Morton after the loss.

Source: Toledo Blade, Jan. 18, 1971

“That would be something between inadequate and terrible.”

Ohio-based writer Tom Loomis about Morton’s comment.

Source: Toledo Blade, Jan. 18, 1971

“Frustration. I did it out of frustration.”

Bob Lilly about why he threw his helmet 25 yards though the air (some say it was more like 50 yards) after the Cowboys lost to the Colts.

Source: Toledo Blade, Jan. 18, 1971

Did You Know?

Morton completed just 12 of 26 passes for 127 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions against the Colts in Super Bowl V. Many put the blame on him for the loss. One year later, Roger Staubach earned MVP honors but completed the same number of passes (12) for fewer yards (119).

Of course, Staubach threw two key touchdown passes in the win and did not throw a pick. Moreover, Dallas rushed for 252 yards, which was a record at the time and remains the fourth highest total in Super Bowl history.

Dallas Cowboys History in Quotes: The Story of the 1971 Dallas Cowboys

I recently wrote a review of Breakthrough ‘Boys: The Story of the 1971 Super Bowl Champion Dallas Cowboys, written by Jaime Aron of the Associated Press. This is a very good book about the 1971 Dallas Cowboys, the first team in franchise history to win a Super Bowl title.

For Dallas Cowboys history in quotes today, here are some quotes from the book.

“I ain’t going back down there, I tell you that, folks.”

Don Meredith to the audience on a Monday Night Football game on November 16, 1970. The Cowboys lost 38-0 to the St. Louis Cardinals, and the crowd started chanting for Meredith’s return.

“Well, Walt, we took a look at you and you weren’t any good.”

University of Texas coach Darrell Royal to Walt Garrison, who only received one college football scholarship offer, and that was from Oklahoma State University. Despite his lack of size and speed, the Cowboys took Garrison in the fifth round of the 1966 draft.

“If somebody did one hundred sit-ups, Roger was going to do one hundred and one. If somebody ran a mile in six minutes, Roger would do it in five fifty-nine. If somebody threw the ball sixty yards, he wa going to throw it sixty one.”

Garrison about Roger Staubach and his work ethic. Bob Lilly added that Staubach would sometimes race Bob Hayes in 100-yard dashes.

“There’s not much difference between them.”

Tom Landry about Cliff Harris and Charlie Waters, who battled for one of the safety spots. Harris was the started opposite Cornell Green and also became the primary punt and kick returner.

“I could see him getting panicky, knowing he was so close to the end zone. He wanted to dump the ball, but he never had a chance.”

Lilly about his famous sack of Bob Griese, which cost the Dolphins 29 yards in Super Bowl VI. Miami only managed three points and remain the only team in Super Bowl history to fail to score a touchdown.

Did You Know?

Running back Duane Thomas caused so many problems in Dallas that the Cowboys traded him to New England. The trade sent Thomas, lineman Halvor Hagen,and receiver Honor Jackson to New England for a first-round pick and running back Carl Garrett. The Patriots nullified the trade just days later.

Garrett remained in New England and played there in 1971 and 1972. He later played with the Jets, Bears, and Raiders.

Hagen also remained in New England and played through the 1975 season with the Patriots and Bills.

Jackson played for the Patriots and Giants between 1972 and 1974.


Quote History: Marion Barber’s Career in Dallas

Marion Barber
Marion Barber has announced his retirement from the NFL.

Several fans repeated a sentiment throughout Marion Barber’s career in Dallas: physical runners like him do not usually last long in the NFL. He took a beating, even when he wasn’t a starter, and his productivity suffered. He became a starter in 2008 after the team parted ways with Julius Jones, but Barber frequently suffered through injuries. Dallas released him before the 2011 season.

Barber played one year in Chicago but announced his retirement today.

Barber’s 47 touchdowns rank third in team history behind Emmitt Smith (153) and Tony Dorsett (72). Barber finished his Dallas career with 4,358 yards, ranking sixth in team history in that category.

Here are some quotes about Barber, whom the Cowboys took in the fourth round of the 2005 draft.

“It wasn’t something that popped into my head. I’m strong in my decision. It’s been a very difficult process, and the support I’ve had throughout has gotten my through it.”

Barber about his decision to forego his senior season at Minnesota to enter the NFL draft in 2005. Barber left as the all-time leading rusher with the Golden Gophers with 3,276 yards.

Source: ESPN.com, Jan. 17, 2005

“I know he is a well-prepared player. Plus, his experience of having pro football in his family was another thing that kind of made me think this kid will be down the road further than the average rookie. And really he is.”

Bill Parcells about Barber, whose father played with the Jets for seven years in the 1980s. Barber’s brother Dominique is a defensive back with the Houston Texans.

Source: Associated Press, 2005

“He ran so hard. I’m shocked we couldn’t execute in the second half.”

Guard Leonard Davis about Barber’s performance against the Giants in the 2007 playoffs. Barber rushed for 129 yards on 27 carries and appeared to be unstoppable in the first half. However, Dallas fell to the Giants 21-17.

Source: New York Times, January 14, 2008

Poll: Ranking Marion Barber

Here is what may be a tough question: where does Marion Barber rank among running backs in Dallas Cowboys history?

Consider a few facts before completing the poll. Barber ranks sixth in rushing in team history, trailing Emmitt Smith, Tony Dorsett, Don Perkins, Calvin Hill, and Robert Newhouse. Hill rushed for more than 1,000 yards twice, which was an accomplishment that Barber never had. Newhouse never exceeded 1,000 but had 930 yards in 1975, which was a Super Bowl season. Barber also never went over 1,000 yards and also never came close to a Super Bowl.

The other players in the top 10 in rushing yards include Walt Garrison, Herschel Walker, Julius Jones, and Felix Jones

Dallas Cowboys History in Quotes: Signing Don Meredith and Don Perkins

Dallas Cowboys history
Today’s quotes focus on the signing of Don Meredith (left) and Don Perkins (center).

More Dallas Cowboys history in quotes, with today’s entry focusing on the team’s signing of quarterback Don Meredith of SMU and running back Don Perkins of New Mexico to personal-services contracts before NFL owners had awarded a franchise to Dallas.

“Who does Chicago have as quarterback? I really don’t know anything about professional football.”

Don Meredith, whom the Bears took with a third-round pick in the draft held in December 1959. At the time, the Bears had Ed Brown, Zeke Bratowski, and Rudy Bukich at the quarterback position. Meredith had previously signed a personal services contract with the company owned by Clint Murchison, and Chicago’s George Halas traded Meredith to the Cowboys for a third-round pick in 1962.

Source: Dallas Morning News, Dec. 2, 1959

“All we’ve got is a coach and a pitcher, but that’s a start. Now we’ve got to get some more players.”

Tom Landry about having Meredith under contract at the time the Dallas franchise hired Landry in December 1959. At the time, the Dallas franchise was known as the Rangers.

Source: Dallas Morning News, Dec. 29, 1959

“(Meredith and Don Perkins) will be expensive salesmen if we don’t get in this league now. It will cost us in six figures over-all if we fail to make the grade.

“Incidentally, we have no intention of suing anybody if things go wrong.”

Tex Schramm after the Cowboys had signed Meredith and Don Perkins of New Mexico to personal services contracts before league owners had approved the Dallas franchise. Approval occurred just after Schramm made this statement.

Source: The Windsor Star, Jan. 28, 1960

Did You Know?

Two teams received draft picks in exchange for the Cowboys receiving the rights to Meredith and Perkins. However, neither of those teams benefited from those picks. With the third pick in the 1962 draft, the Bears took an end from USC named Jim Bates, who never played in the NFL. The Baltimore Colts picked up the Cowboys’ ninth-round pick in 1962 and took a Purdue running back named Roy Walker, Jr. Walker likewise never played in the NFL and instead became a high school coach in Ohio.

Dallas Cowboys History in Quotes: Tom Landry’s Innovations

Tom Landry introduced more innovations than most coaches in NFL history.

An addition to the series on the Dallas Cowboys history in quotes. Here are three quotes about some of Tom Landry’s innovations.

“I would rather call my own plays. I talked to Landry about it in the offseason. But he feels it…is a trend in football.”

Roger Staubach about Landry’s system where he would send plays in from the sideline. At the time, most coaches let their quarterbacks call plays.

Source: Kentucky New Era, January 14, 1976

“Whether anyone else will use the Shotgun in the future, I don’t know, but it’s been a good weapon for us and I enjoy it.”

Landry about the Shotgun, which he installed into the Dallas offense in 1975. Every modern NFL team uses the Shotgun, and most use it much more heavily compared with the Cowboys of the 1970s.

Source: The Day (New London, Conn.), Jan. 7, 1976

“You have to change your blocking structures. That’s one of the Cowboy philosophies. They want to make your change what you do best.”

Pittsburgh coach Chuck Noll about the Flex Defense, which the Steelers had to face in Super Bowl X.

Did You Know?

Noll and the Steelers expected the Cowboys to throw the ball extensively in Super Bowl X because the Dallas running game was so weak. However, Dallas ran the ball 31 times while only attempting 24 passes. Staubach threw three interceptions to go with his two touchdown passes.