23. Dez Bryant
The enigmatic Bryant has lost a step (or two) over the past couple of years, but he was an absolute monster in his prime. Bryant scored 50 touchdowns from 2011-2014 – trailing only Rob Gronkowski during that time frame. His physicality, size, and leaping ability made him a tough cover for any cornerback. Dez can thank the Green Bay Packers as the reason he’s not higher on this list. Had the Cowboys beaten Green Bay in either the 2014 or 2016 playoffs, his career arc would have looked far different.
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22. Chuck Howley
A six-time Pro Bowler and five-time All-Pro, Howley enjoyed the best twelve years of his career as a member of the Dallas Cowboys. The rangy linebacker was a ball hawk that had a knack for creating turnovers. In 164 career games as a Cowboy, Howley collected 24 interceptions and 17 fumble recoveries.
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21. Ed ‘Too Tall’ Jones
Like his nickname would suggest, Jones was a daunting figure on the defensive line. Selected first overall in the 1974 NFL Draft, Jones went on to become a Super Bowl champion and a three-time All-Pro. Had he not retired for a few years to pursue a career in professional boxing, Jones would almost certainly have a chance at cracking the Hall of Fame.
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20. Charlie Waters
Waters was a stalwart in Dallas’ secondary for over a decade. The Cowboys reached the Super Bowl five times during Waters tenure, taking home two victories (VI, XII). A gifted safety with great ball skills, Waters finished his career with 50 interceptions including nine picks in 25 postseason appearances.
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19. Drew Pearson
Pearson will forever live on in Dallas lore as one of the most clutch players in team history. Most famously, Pearson was on the receiving end of the famous “Hail Mary” play that helped the Cowboys win a playoff game against Minnesota in 1975. He and Roger Staubach had a strong connection that set the foundation for one of the best offenses of the era.
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18. Tony Hill
Hill was a reliable receiving threat throughout his career. The Stanford grad led the team in receiving yards and receptions for nine consecutive seasons, making three Pro Bowl appearances in the process. He ranks fifth all-time in total yards (rushing and receiving) for the franchise.
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17. Lee Roy Jordan
Dave Edwards, Howley, and Jordan created arguably the most formidable linebacking trio in NFL history. Nicknamed “Killer” by his teammates, Jordan was a menace that made up for is lack of size by being the most aggressive defender in the league. Jordan was a student of the game, even requesting a projector to be put in his home to watch game film as part of the contract he signed with the Cowboys.
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16. Cliff Harris
The Cowboys have a penchant for discovering quality undrafted players. Following a successful career at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkansas, Harris went undrafted in the 1970 NFL Draft. Harris actually beat out Charlie Waters for the starting position during his rookie year, but the duo eventually paired up to create one of the best safety duos in league history.
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15. DeMarcus Ware
Ware was a beast from the get-go. The explosive Troy product split time as an outside linebacker and defensive end, excelling at both positions. After recording 8.0 sacks as a rookie, Ware went on to have seven-straight seasons of double-digit sacks. The nine-time Pro Bowler wasn’t able to secure a title as a member of the Cowboys, but ended up winning a championship as a member of the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50.
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14. Tony Romo
Romo often doesn’t get the credit he deserves. While his playoff shortcomings are well-documented, the Cowboys wouldn’t have been in postseason position without Romo at the helm. The gutsy QB played through countless injuries, and holds the fifth best passer rating of all-time. Not bad for an undrafted free agent.
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13. Rayfield Wright
The versatile Wright played a number of positions throughout his career, but he was at his best wreaking havoc as the right tackle for America’s Team. Wright spent his career protecting Roger Staubach and making running lanes for Dallas’ bevy of talented running backs. Wright was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006.
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12. Tony Dorsett
If it wasn’t for a certain all-time leading rusher that cracks the top-10 of this list, Dorsett would be considered the greatest rusher in Cowboys history. The shifty runner from Pitt burst onto the scene with an impressive first season, rushing for 1,007 yards and 12 touchdowns and winning the Rookie of the Year award. Although he was slight of frame (190-pounds), Dorsett was a workhorse that finished with 400 more career rushing yards than the great Jim Brown.
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11. Mel Renfro
The Cowboys have had a bevy of talented defensive backs, and Renfro has a case for being the best of them all. A former All-American with the Oregon Ducks, Renfro ended his professional career with 52 interceptions and seven All-Pro nods. Renfro was considered the best athlete on a team that employed a former gold medalist (Bob Hayes).
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10. Deion Sanders
Purely based on talent, Sanders deserves to be far higher on this list. However, this is a list of the greatest “Dallas Cowboys” of all-time, and Sanders was only a Cowboy for five seasons. The Hall of Fame corner made his presence felt in the short amount of time he spent in Dallas. Sanders helped lead the Cowboys to a Super Bowl in his first year with the team. He reached the end zone eight times in 63 games with the team.
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9. Bob Hayes
Considered one of the best pure athletes to ever play the game, Hayes excelled on the gridiron as well as the track. The two-sport athlete took home gold for the United States during the 1964 Olympics in both the 100-meter sprint and the 4×100 relay. To this day, Hayes holds the world record for the 70-yard dash, and was one of the fastest players in NFL history. On the football field, Hayes was a dynamic scoring threat. The 5-foot-11 wide-out recorded 72 touchdowns in his first 91 career games.
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8. Jason Witten
The recently retired Witten is one of the greatest tight ends to ever play the game. Tony Gonzales is the only tight end in history to have recorded more yards and touchdowns than Witten. While the receiving numbers are impressive, Witten was also a master at the ‘little things’. He was an excellent blocker, and more than willing to throw his body on the line for his team. Having caught touchdown passes from 10 different quarterbacks, Witten provided stability for a Cowboys organization that has underwhelmed since the turn of the century.
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7. Randy White
White took an interesting route through the NFL. After playing as a defensive tackle at the collegiate level, White underwent a position change to linebacker and sat behind Dallas legend Lee Roy Jordan for two years. Once White took the starting role, he never looked back. He was named first-team All-Pro nine-straight times, and is a member of the NFL 1980s All-Decade team.
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6. Troy Aikman
Newer fans may only know him as the color commentator for FOX’s marquee matchup on Sunday’s, but the Dallas faithful remember Aikman as the QB that helped lead the Cowboys to three Super Bowl victories in the ’90s. While Aikman didn’t post all-time great numbers, he will be remembered as a stellar game-manager that took care of the football and put his team in the best position to win.
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5. Michael Irvin
Brash and boastful, Irvin was the heart and soul of Dallas most recent dynasty. The former Miami Hurricane used his gift for gab to get in the heads of his opponents, but he also had the talent to back it up. The 6-foot-2 wide-out possessed excellent hands and had the ability to win a jump ball against any defensive back in the league. Nicknamed “The Playmaker”, Irvin was known for making game-changing plays in the most crucial moments.
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4. Larry Allen
In a league that has been filled with tough, rugged, and outstanding athletes, Allen may have been the strongest of them all. Allen helped pave the way for star running back Emmitt Smith, and protected the blind side for Troy Aikman. The 300-pound stud made eleven Pro Bowls in 14 seasons, and is a member of two All-Decade Teams.
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3. Bob Lilly
‘Mr. Cowboy’ was the most important player on a Dallas defense that helped secure Super Bowl VI. Lilly was a transcendent talent that earned a spot on both the 1960s and ’70s All-Decade Teams. Teams regularly threw double and triple teams at Lilly, but no player could match his rare blend of agility and strength at the position. The defensive tackle position is undergoing a renaissance in the NFL, and players like Lilly helped pave the way.
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2. Emmitt Smith
Following a memorable career at the University of Florida, Smith slipped all the way to the 17th pick in the 1990 NFL Draft as teams around the league wondered if he would be too small and too slow to compete at the NFL level. 18,355 rushing yards later, and it’s safe to say Smith successfully quieted his critics.
Smith was a workhorse that remains the all-time leader in both rushing yards and attempts. Although Smith earned the NFL MVP for his work in 1993, it wasn’t until two years later that he enjoyed the best season of his career when he ran for 1,773 yards and 25 touchdowns.
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1. Roger Staubach
Staubach’s physique left much to be desired. The slender signal caller boasted an unassuming frame, but make no mistake about it, Staubach was a gamer. Playing eleven years for ‘America’s Team’, Staubach earned the nickname “Captain America” for his ability to lead the charge and deliver when it counts. In Staubach’s first full season as a starter, he led the Cowboys to a 13-0 record including three dominant playoff performances en route to winning Super Bowl VI. Staubach would later collect another Super Bowl trophy in 1977, and didn’t endure a single losing season as Dallas’ QB.
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