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Top 101-91 Dallas Cowboys of All-Time

Photo by John F. Rhodes

By: David Connors @DConBlitz


As the Cowboys prepare for their 60th season since their inaugural season, it is easy to reflect on what has been a storybook franchise. The Dallas Cowboys have 5 Super Bowl wins, 8 appearances stretched between 2 dynasties. Even though it has been over 20 years since their last championship run, they still maintain one for the most loyal fan bases. USA Today had Dallas Cowboys ranked as the 2nd most popular sports team in the world behind only Manchester United with a growing fan base across the pond and in Australia. And in July of 2018 Forbes released an article that had The Cowboys as the most valuable sports team in the world with a net worth of $4.8 billion which was almost $.7 billion more than the 2nd most valuable team, Manchester United. The team has one of the wildest histories of all NFL teams including their incarnation. (See Cowboys #11)

With such an enriched history, it was a challenge to rank the 101 greatest Dallas Cowboys of all time, but I did just that. Over the next few weeks, we will be revealing them in a 10 part series. Just a quick disclaimer before the list, I was very young when the last time Dallas won a Super Bowl. Although I have read most of the books, watched the tape, seen the films, I was unable to develop that emotional attachment to some of the greats and I admit, I am probably criminally low on some of the greats, and too high on the players I watched as an adolescent like Marion Barber, Terrance Newman, and Miles Austin. Please, hit me up on Twitter (@DConBlitz) and let me know who I am too low on, or missed altogether. Without further ado!

101. Dwayne Harris, WR

Jersey number: 14, 17

Tenure with Dallas: 2011-2014

At first glance at Dwayne Harris’s stats as a Cowboy, it may surprise many he made the list at all. He only caught 33 passes with Dallas and still has not eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards in his entire career. However, Dwayne Harris gets a spot in my top 101 for his contribution on special teams. Harris averaged over 10 yards a punt return during his tenure with Dallas, and in 2012-2013 he averaged over 14 yards and tact on two TDS. He was a really good returner, but that is not the reason he makes the list. Dwayne Harris is ranked number 101 because he is one of, if not the best gunner I have ever seen play. Ever since I have been watching tape, albeit not very long, I have never seen such a dominant player in punt coverage. He uses his acceleration to deceive the return man to think they have room to return and he closes the space quickly. And when he makes contact, he is not just looking to bring the ball carrier down, he is going to lay a hit and try to separate the ball from the returner. Teams can try to double press him and his muscles through them. He forced 3 fumbles in his time and if he was not jarring the ball loose, he was a major asset when the Cowboys were trying to flip the field. His contribution in the third phase of the game was a factor in the Cowboys winning a game or two each season. In a season with only 16 games, that is a big deal. To be in the conversation in the best of any position, even gunner gets Dwayne Harris the #101 spot in All-Time Dallas Cowboys.

100. Keith Brooking, ILB

Player Number: 51

Tenure with Dallas: 2009-2011

Keith Brooking certainly was a far superior Falcon than a Cowboy. He signed with Dallas 2009 to help transition Dallas’s defense into the 3-4 package that Wade Phillips wanted to run. The 33-year-old made an immediate impact. Bradie James and Brooking led Dallas to be 4th in rushing yards against and 4th in rushing touchdowns against that season. However, it was not his impact on the field that propels him to the Top 101 list. When Brooking came to Dallas he became an instant leader on defense. He was the player in the middle of the pregame huddle giving the speech, pumping up the defense. Even during the putrid 2010-2011 seasons, Brooking brought the same fire and kept the team fighting.

Unfortunately, he slides down the list because of his decline. In 2011, at age 35, Brooking clearly played second fiddle to an emerging Sean Lee, and when Lee got injured Brooking just could not hold his own anymore. The defensive production plummeted. Brooking was a leader for what was mostly an eyesore, but the next player had a similar role in a different era.

99. Jack Del Rio, MLB

Player Number: 55

Tenure with Dallas: 1989-1991

Jack Del Rio is quite similar to Keith Brooking. He was an absolute leader on defense during a really rough season for Cowboys fans. Del Rio gets the bump over Brooking because he did not have a sharp decline in production during his time with Dallas but actually got better. The team improved around Del Rio. He was the QB on defense. His ability to lead a defense carried him to a stellar coaching career after his retirement as a player.

98. Norv Turner, Offensive Coordinator

Player Number: N/A

Tenure with Dallas: 1991-1993

Norv Turner was brought in to Dallas in 1991 to help turn around an offense that was ranked dead last the year before and he made an immediate impact. In his first year as OC, Dallas went from worst to 9th in offensive production. He came in when many future Hall of Famers were either rookies or within the first 2 years in their career and molded them into a dynasty. The team went on to win 2 Super Bowls and produce 4 future Hall of Famers from his offense including the All-Time Career rushing leader.

97. Terry Glenn, WR

Player Number: 83

Tenure with Dallas: 2003-2007

Terry Glenn has speed for days. At 5’11”, Glenn was a great deep threat option for Dallas as they went through a plethora of rough QB play. He still managed to accumulate the 15th most receiving yards in Cowboys history. He averaged 16 yards a reception during his tenure in Dallas by catching bombs. He had to endure a season in 2004 where he was receiving passes from Drew Henson, Chad Hutchinson, and Vinny Testaverde. Luckily, in 2005, Dallas brought in Drew Bledsoe to bring some competency to the Cowboys passing game. His former Patriot teammate and him connected for over 1,000 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns and averaged over 18 yards a catch. He went on to eclipse 1,000 receiving yards again, but 2007 was derailed by arthroscopic knee surgery.

96. Dennis Thurman, S/CB

Player Number: 32

Tenure with Dallas: 1978-1985

Dennis Thurman was an 11th round pick for the Cowboys in the 1978 NFL Draft. He established himself as a great player by having a nose for big plays in vital situations. In his rookie season, he recovered an onside kick in Super Bowl XIII. From that point on, Thurman was a turnover machine for Dallas’s defense. Danny White affectionately called him and his fellow defensive backs “Thurman Thieves.” He finished his time in Dallas with 43 picks and 4 returned for a touchdown. What made Thurman great, he would not just fall after picking off the other team's offense, he would fight for every extra yard he could. He is third in franchise history for interception return yardage

95. Doug Free, OT

Player Number: 68

Tenure with Dallas: 2007-2016

Doug Free was a staple in the Dallas offensive line for almost an entire decade including two seasons where they were considered the BEST offensive line in the league. Although he struggled when given the opportunity on the left side, he was a consistent force at Right Tackle and a leader to the starting five. The year following his retirement, the Cowboys line took a considerable dip in productivity without his presence and leadership.

94. Matt McBride, P

Player Number: 1

Tenure with Dallas: 2003-2011

The oft-forgotten punter position comes in at 96. This Aussie had some incredible seasons in Dallas including being a Pro-Bowler twice. In 2006, he averaged 48.2 yards per punt which were the first time a player was over 48 yards since 1963 and tied him for 5th best in NFL history. In 2009, McBriar set the team record of 38 punts downed inside the Redzone, which was also the 6th most in a single season in NFL history. In 2010, McBriar earned his second Pro Bowl selection while leading the league in gross punt average and net punt average. He even continued to be a productive player past his time in Dallas. In one season in Philadelphia, he set the Eagles record for highest average yards per punt with 46.5. The punter may be one of the most forgotten players in the league, but this punter will not be forgotten in a list of great players to wear the Star.

93. Larry Brown, CB

Player Number: 24, 34

Tenure with Dallas, 1991-1995, 1998

Larry Brown went from a 320th draft pick to a key contributor to Dallas in their 3 Super Bowl championship teams, but Larry will be most remembered for his SuperBowl MVP in Super Bowl XXX where he picked Niel McDonald off twice to fuel the Cowboys come from behind win against the Steelers. He also made a key interception in the NFC championship team against the Packers to get Dallas in the Super bowl. Larry Brown continues to impact Cowboys fans as the pregame and post-game show host for Dallas Cowboys Radio on 105.3 The Fan. NFL Network might have ranked 3rd in their Top 10 One Hit Wonders, but Dallas fans know he was an asset to the defense during that dynasty.

92. Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson, OLB

Player Number: 56

Tenure with Dallas: 1975-1979

Hollywood Henderson first made his name as an exceptional special teams player. He was so athletic, Dallas gave him a reverse kick return that resulted in a Touchdown. He earned a spot on the starting rotation in 1977, and his tape can only be described as fun. He had 2 forced fumbles and 3 picks (one for a touchdown). He was sideline to sideline at all times, and he was colorful off the field as he was in the field. His beef with Steelers QB Terry Bradshaw was one of the catalysts of the Steelers/Cowboys rivalry that is still alive today.

Unfortunately, an addiction to liquid cocaine held back what could have been an incredible career. Fortunately, an arrest in 1983 led to Thomas getting treatment and he has been sober since.

91. Roy Williams, S

Player Number: 31, 38

Tenure with Dallas: 2002-2008

Roy Williams was a solid box Safety for many years in Dallas. He was a 5-time Pro-Bowler and an All-Pro in 2003. He was a liability in coverage but made up for it In run coverage. When he got beat, he would tackle players from the horse-collar. It became so much of a problem the NFL introduced the Horse-Collar rule which is often called the Roy Williams rule. With mentoring from veteran Darren Woodson, he developed into a staple of the Cowboys defense during that era.

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