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In the history of the Dallas Cowboys, many players have, of course, been prone to suffer injuries. Some, however, have never only been able to contribute a small fraction of what they could because of those injuries.
Below is a list of players who fall into that category.
10. Robert Brewster, Tackle (3rd Round, 2009)
We begin with two picks from the dreadful 2009 draft. The team picked tackle Robert Brewster with the 75th overall pick. This was during a time when the team had a decent but aging offensive line.
Brewster tore a pectoral muscle during a workout and did not play as a rookie. He was released during the middle of the 2010 season.
He last played in the Arena Football League in 2012.
9. Brandon Williams, Linebacker (4th round, 2009)
The Cowboys needed linebackers even in 2009 and took Texas Tech defensive end Williams with the goal of converting him to outside linebacker.
He tore his ACL during a preseason game in 2009, though. He played in 10 games in 2010 but was waived before the start of the 2011 season.
He was on the Arizona Cardinals’ practice squad in 2011 and made active roster at the end of the 2011 season. He has not played in the NFL since being waived before the 2012 season by Arizona.
8. Billy Cannon, Linebacker (1st Round, 1984)
If the Cowboys could have picked up the senior Billy Cannon in 1960, he could have been a cornerstone in the new franchise. The senior Billy Cannon won the Heisman Trophy at LSU, and he was a key member of the Dallas Texans’ 1961 AFL Championship Game.
The junior Billy Cannon lasted eight games into his rookie season. He suffered a spinal injury against the Saints and was forced to retire.
7. Tody Smith, Defensive End (1st Round, 1971)
The Cowboys took USC defensive end Tody Smith with the 25th overall selection in 1971. Smith had to deal with an ankle injury as a rookie and played in only seven games. He had knee surgery during the off-season in 1972 but still played in ten games. Perhaps due to the bad knee, he was disappointing in 1972.
The upside of the Smith selection was that the Houston Oilers gave the Cowboys first- and third-round draft picks in 1974 to acquire Smith.
Smith lasted three years in Houston but was waived while injured before the 1976 season.
Meanwhile, Dallas used the picks from the Oilers to take Too Tall Jones and Danny White.
6. Robert Shaw, Center (1st Round, 1979)
Shaw took over as the starting center in 1980 and did an excellent job in three playoff games.
However, he suffered a catastrophic knee injury in 1981 and was never able to play again. Had he remained with the Cowboys, he probably would have anchored a very good offensive line.
Tom Rafferty did a fine job at center, but the Cowboys struggled to replace Rafferty at guard.
5. Jimmy Smith, Wide Receiver (2nd round, 1992)
Smith wound up with more than 12,000 receiving yards while playing for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
As a Cowboy, though, he was injured most of the time and even had to undergo an emergency appendectomy.
He never caught a pass with the Cowboys, who released him before the 1994 season. Jacksonville picked him up during the Jaguars’ expansion season, and he spent 11 years there, earning five Pro Bowl berths.
4. Bill Thomas, Running Back (1st round, 1972)
The Cowboys selected Bill Thomas as part of an effort to replace Duane Thomas. However, Bill Thomas never recovered from a shoulder injury suffered during college, and the Cowboys cut him before his second season in 1973.
He played two more seasons for the Oilers and Chiefs.
3. David LaFleur, Tight End (1st Round, 1997)
The Cowboys desperately needed to replace Jay Novacek in 1997 and used the 22nd overall pick to take LaFleur, thanks largely to an endorsement from Troy Aikman.
LaFleur played four seasons in Dallas, but he suffered through chronic back injuries. The team had to cut him before the 2001 season when he could not pass a physical.
He finished with just 729 yards in four seasons.
2. Mike Sherrard, Wide Receiver (1st round, 1986)
Sherrard had a promising rookie season in 1986, with 41 receptions for 744 yards and five touchdowns. He would have been the team’s top receiver in 1987, but he broke his ankle during training camp. He missed the entire season.
One year later, he suffered yet another broken ankle, causing him to miss yet another season.
The 49ers signed Sherrard through Plan B free agency in 1989, so Sherrard never played for the Cowboys after his rookie season in 1986.
Dallas had to use another first-round pick to take a receiver in 1988, but fortunately the team selected Michael Irvin.
Sherrard played for the 49ers, Giants, and Broncos but suffered through several more injuries. Nevertheless, his career lasted until 1996.
1. Sean Lee (2nd round, 2010).
Lee has the talent and leadership to be one of the franchise’s great linebackers.
He has the body of a porcelain vase and has been injured frequently. In four years, he has missed 18 games.
He will miss another 16 in 2014 while recovering from a torn ACL.
Some probably think that the playoff rivalry between the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers began with The Catch in 1981.
Not true. The teams faced each other in the playoffs for three consecutive years from 1970 to 1972. Dallas beat San Francisco to reach Super Bowls V and VI.
In 1972, Dallas traveled to San Francisco for the third game in the series, and the Cowboys found themselves behind 28-13 heading into the fourth quarter.
This turned out to be Roger Staubach’s first miracle win, as he came off the bench to lead Dallas to a 30-28 win.
Staubach threw touchdowns to two receivers in the fourth quarter, but neither of these players played for the Cowboys after 1972.
The receiver who caught the game-winner was Ron Sellers, who played one more season with the Dolphins before his career ended.
The other receiver was our Most Obscure Player Award winner for 1972: Billy Parks.
Parks was a 6th-round pick of the San Diego Chargers in 1971. He had a productive rookie season, catching 41 passes for 609 yards for the Chargers, but he suffered a broken arm after 10 games.
The Cowboys finally had enough of running back Duane Thomas, and late in July of 1972, Dallas traded Thomas to San Diego for Parks and running back Mike Montgomery (yet another obscure player).
Parks only caught 18 passes for Dallas during the 1972 regular season, but he was a major factor in the win over the 49ers in the playoffs. He caught 7 passes for 136 yards and a score in what turned out to be his most productive game as a professional.
In May 1973, the Cowboys shipped Parks and former first-round pick Tody Smith to the Houston Oilers in exchange for a first-round pick and a third-round pick.
Those draft picks proved to be rather significant, as the Cowboys grabbed Ed “Too Tall” Jones in the first round of the 1974 draft and took punter/quarterback Danny White in the third round.
Parks had decent seasons in 1973 and 1974 with the Oilers but only caught one pass in 1975, his final year in the league.
His first catch as a sophomore was for a touchdown. When that season (1967) ended, Parks had caught79 passes for 1294 yards and 12 TDs. Injured much of his senior year, Parks finished with 169 career catches for 2919 yards and 22 TDs. After sitting out one season, Parks played five years in the NFL (San Diego, Dallas, Houston). He led the NFL in receiving in 10 games (41 catches) as a rookie in 1971 before being sidelined with a broken arm.
He unfortunately died of melanoma in 2009.