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88: Michael Irvin Tops Drew Pearson And Dez Bryant As Best To Wear Historic Cowboys Number

RJ Ochoa

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There are officially 88 days until the toe meets the ball at AT&T Stadium where the Dallas Cowboys will host the New York Giants on NBC’s Sunday Night Football.

I started this countdown here at Inside The Star 11 days ago with our Greatest 99 in Dallas Cowboys History. I knew then that there were going to be some numbers that were fun to do, some that weren’t as interesting, and some that were going to be my absolute favorite. It was obvious in my considerations that determining 88 would be the most fun of all.

While there are plenty of numbers in Dallas Cowboys History that have legendary players tied to them, 88 has two. AND it has an active player who has the potential when it’s all said and done, to be the best. Let’s take a look at all of them.

The following players have all worn 88 for the Dallas Cowboys:

  • Antonio Bryant, WR
  • Dez Bryant*, WR
  • Sonny Davis, LB
  • Jackie Harris, TE
  • Michael Irvin^, WR
  • Drew Pearson, WR
  • Brett Pierce, TE
  • Sonny Randle, WR
  • Colin Ridgway, P
  • Reggie Rucker, WR
  • Ron Sellers, WR

^Pro Football Hall of Famer
*Active player on the Dallas Cowboys roster

88 is the Greatest Number in Dallas Cowboys History. Yes, really. We are in the middle of recounting every number and while there are 87 left, none will have the combined greatness of the double eight. And while 11 total gentlemen have put it on their backs, we’re all here to talk about three of them. Let’s rank them.

3. Dez Bryant, WR: 381 catches, 5,424 yards, 56 touchdowns.

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant reacts towards the fans during a warm up session before playing the San Diego Chargers in an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant reacts towards the fans during a warm up session before playing the San Diego Chargers in an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Drafted with the 24th overall pick in 2010 out of Oklahoma State, Dez Bryant has been a Cowboy since the age of 18. While his receiving numbers are already ridiculously impressive it is important to note that Dez is just now beginning to reach his prime. He has already made a significant dent in the Cowboys record books (he is already fourth on the Cowboys all-time list in receiving touchdowns), getting better with each and every season.

Part of what makes Dez great is his ability to raise the talents of those around him. He pushes fellow wide receiver Terrance Williams to new heights (as exemplified by Terrance’s many big catches in 2014) and his impact on the team as a whole is so strong, almost tangible. Dez Bryant has become a leader on the Cowboys and is the heart of the team. He is counted on when things matter most, a characteristic most exemplified by Tony Romo’s trust in him with the season on the line last year in Green Bay. All that said, he is still only the third Greatest 88 in Dallas Cowboys History.

2. Drew Pearson, WR: 489 catches, 7,822 yards, 48 touchdowns.

Drew Pearson and I on December 19th, 2008...the night before the Cowboys final game in Texas Stadium.

Drew Pearson and I on December 19th, 2008...the night before the Cowboys' final game in Texas Stadium against the Baltimore Ravens. He graciously let me wear his Super Bowl XII Ring.

The Original 88. Before Drew Pearson wore it, 88 was just a regular ‘ol number. After? It was an honor. A privilege. It came with an expectation: Be great, you’re wearing 88. Pearson started off as most guys do, playing football in high school. South River High School in New Jersey to be exact. What most people don’t know is that it initially was as quarterback…succeeding future Super Bowl-winning QB Joe Theismann. Pearson then found himself at Tulsa and playing wide receiver in 1971 (coincidentally the first year that the Cowboys won the Super Bowl).

When Pearson arrived in Dallas in 1973 most of his impact came as a kick returner. In 1974, Pearson really took off recording 1,087 yards (his career best). 1975 brought Pearson’s first Super Bowl experience as a Cowboy (a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers), but not before an exhilarating divisional win in Minnesota against Bud Grant’s Vikings. Trailing 10-14 in the final seconds, Roger Staubach threw deep for Pearson and connected for the game-winning score. This moment was etched in Cowboys history as the “Hail Mary” and the legend of Drew Pearson as “Mr. Clutch” was born.

The Original 88 played in, and won, Super Bowl XII against the Denver Broncos. He was also on the field for what I have said many a time is the greatest game of all time…Super Bowl XIII in the Orange Bowl against the Pittsburgh Steelers (unfortunately a Cowboys loss). Drew paved the way for 88 and set the standard for what it would become in the future. He is a member of the Cowboys Ring of Honor and his absence in the Hall of Fame is something that many have advocated needs correction.

1. Michael Irvin, WR: 750 catches, 11,904 yards, 65 touchdowns.

** FILE ** Dallas Cowboys' Michael Irvin celebrates after gaining 30-yards on a Jason Garrett pass in the third quarter against the New York Giants in this Sept. 21, 1998 file photo, at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun, File)

Dallas Cowboys' Michael Irvin celebrates after gaining 30-yards on a Jason Garrett pass in the third quarter against the New York Giants in this Sept. 21, 1998 file photo, at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun, File)

The Playmaker. Hailing from the University of Miami, the Hurricane known as Michael Irvin was the last first round draft choice of legendary head coach Tom Landry (11th overall in 1988). Irvin had a decent rookie (he was actually the first rookie to start at receiver for the Cowboys in 20 years) year, tore his ACL his sophomore season, and he rebounded nicely following the injury in his third year … fostering his relationship with quarterback Troy Aikman. In 1991, Irvin exploded and led the league with 1,523 yards.

His performance was a large factor in the Cowboys’ on-field success, as they went 11-5 and won a playoff game in Chicago. Over the next four years (1992-1995) Irvin would combine for 5,570 yards and 30 touchdowns while leading the Cowboys to four consecutive NFC Championship games, and three Super Bowl victories (1992, 1993, and 1995).

The Playmaker’s finest hour was undoubtedly the 1995 season. He posted career highs in catches (111), yards (1,603), and TDs (10) while serving as the emotional lightning rod of his Cowboys team. Many Cowboys (such as Troy Aikman and Daryl Johnston) from the 1995 team have said that Irvin continuously motivated his teammates, cultivated a winning attitude, and drove them to success and their eventual Super Bowl XXX victory over the rivaled Pittsburgh Steelers. He outworked everybody and ran practice routes as if they were Super Bowl game-winning plays.

Michael Irvin is a member of the Cowboys Ring of Honor and Pro Football Hall of Fame (Class of 2007). He is in my opinion the second greatest wide receiver in the history of professional football, behind only Jerry Rice. Drew Pearson paved the way for the expectations of 88, but Michael Irvin lived, breathed, and channeled 88. The number 88 became synonymous with intensity and an undying willingness to do whatever it took to win under his watch. He is, without question, the Greatest 88 in Dallas Cowboys History.

Entering 2015 the primary members of Club 88 (Drew Pearson, Michael Irvin, and Dez Bryant) have a combined: 1,620 receptions, 25,150 receiving yards, 169 touchdowns, 10 Pro Bowl Selections, 5 First-Team All- Pro Selections, 4 Super Bowl Rings, 2 places in the Cowboys Ring of Honor, and 1 Pro Football Hall of Fame Gold Jacket.

Cowboys Blog -  5

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) talks with former Dallas Cowboys player Michael Irvin after the afternoon practice at Dallas Cowboys training camp in Oxnard, California on July 24, 2013. (Vernon Bryant/The Dallas Morning News)

That type of production from one number is unfathomable not just within Dallas Cowboys History, but also across all of NFL History. Wearing the number is a great honor and a passing-of-the-torch among generations. Drew Pearson passed it to Michael Irvin, who responded by outperforming Drew. In 2010, Michael graciously passed it to Dez, who is well on his way to carving out his own historic 88 Cowboy career.

88 is such a great number for fans because with every juke, jive, or touchdown run that happens in it…fans from all generations can remember the good times and legendary plays. If there’s one thing that we have learned in Cowboys History, it’s that 88 cannot and will not be stopped. It’s a lifestyle that only the greatest can live.

Check back tomorrow to find out who the Greatest 87 in Dallas Cowboys History is!

Tell us what you think about "88: Michael Irvin Tops Drew Pearson And Dez Bryant As Best To Wear Historic Cowboys Number" in the comments below. You can also email me at RJ.Ochoa@SlantSports.com, or Tweet to me at @RJOchoa!



I like long walks on the beach, mystery novels, no just kidding those suck. The Dallas Cowboys were put on this earth for us all to love and appreciate. I do that 24/7/365. I also love chicken parmesan. Let's roll. @RJOchoa if you wanna shout!

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Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: ¿Qué Safety Estará Ahí en el #58?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Cowboys Draft Target: Washington Safety Taylor Rapp

Por fin estamos a menos de una semana del NFL Draft 2019. El evento que define el futuro de las franquicias de la liga año tras año está a días de distancia y los rumores comienzan a tomar velocidad. Para los aficionados de los Dallas Cowboys, la experiencia del Draft será un poco diferente ya que no cuentan con una selección de primera ronda. En vez de eso, tienen a Amari Cooper. ¿Lo vale? Sí. Pero, no se puede negar que el equipo estará en una posición complicada durante el Draft.

No sólo no hay un pick de primera ronda para los Cowboys, sino que no cuentan con uno dentro del Top 50. Estas son las selecciones con las que cuentan los Jones y compañía:

  • Pick #58 (segunda ronda)
  • Pick #91 (tercera ronda)
  • Pick #129 (cuarta ronda)
  • Pick #137 (cuarta ronda)
  • Pick #166 (quinta ronda)
  • Pick #243 (séptima ronda)

A menos que sean sorprendentemente agresivos, no habrá noticias sobre los Dallas Cowboys el próximo jueves. Más bien tendremos que esperar hasta el segundo día del Draft para ver que traman los Cowboys. ¿Qué podemos esperar sobre su primera selección?

Why Cowboys War Room Could Be Particularly Interesting This Draft

En este momento, parece que no hay ninguna necesidad más fuerte que la de un safety. Y parece ser que el talento disponible en la segunda ronda podría beneficiar a los Cowboys. Como cada año, es difícil pronosticar quien estará en la tabla y quien no, pero hablemos de varios safeties que podrían solucionar los problemas de Dallas.

S Taylor Rapp, Washington

Algunos ven a Rapp como el mejor safety en la clase de novatos, mientras que otros están convencidos de que no podrá tener éxito en la NFL. La mayor preocupación en torno al producto de Washington es su velocidad. En las pruebas que realizó sus resultados no fueron nada satisfactorios. Sin embargo, ha probado en el campo que es bueno contra la corrida y se puede encargar de su trabajo en cobertura. Es bueno al tacklear, y podría ser justo lo que los Cowboys necesitan.

S Jonathan Abraham, Mississippi State

Abraham se proyecta como un strong safety, que es lo que los Cowboys necesitan. De todos los prospectos, parece que Abraham es el favorito a irse primero. Sin embargo, no es perfecto y sus defectos podrían costarle una caída hasta la segunda ronda. Abraham falla tackleadas ocasionalmente, pero su juego físico y agresivo lo puede compensar. Si cae hasta el #58, Abraham no puede ser ignorado.

Cowboys Draft: Virginia Safety Juan Thornhill V

S Juan Thornhill, Virginia

Thornhill no es mejor que los mencionados anteriormente, pero quizá sea más probable encontrarlo si los Cowboys se quedan en el pick #58. En Virginia, Thornhill tuvo tres temporadas donde fue titular en más de 10 partidos. Es todo un play-maker, consiguiendo 13 intercepciones en su carrera colegial. Lidero a su equipo en tackleadas. Puede jugar en varios puntos de la defensiva e incluso llegó a alinearse como linebacker. Dudo que eso pase en la NFL, pero podría ser un buen safety dentro de la caja y en cobertura.

S Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Florida

Gardner-Johnson fue uno de los líderes en Florida durante toda su carrera. Jugó como safety y como cornerback, muchas veces actuando como "nickel." Chauncey no sería de mis opciones favoritas en este punto del Draft, pero es una que no se puede ignorar si los demás jugadores ya no están disponibles. Sabe romper jugadas y tiene potencial de convertirse en un titular a largo plazo.

S Amani Hooker, Iowa

En el escenario de que todos los mejores safeties ya hayan sido seleccionados y el equipo no prefiera atender otra necesidad, Amani Hooker merece un vistazo. En Iowa ganó el premio al mejor defensive back de su conferencia (Big Ten). Tuvo buenos números en sus pruebas y podría ser un buen strong safety dentro de la caja, donde se pone en posición constantemente para hacer jugadas.

Claro que los Cowboys podrían tomar otra ruta y no seleccionar a un safety hasta más tarde. Sin embargo, considero que sería lo correcto. Incluso pienso que si Taylor Rapp o su prospecto favorito está disponible en un punto de la segunda ronda, Dallas estará dispuesto a hacer un trade para subir y alcanzarlo.

Sólo queda esperar este gran e impredecible evento. ¿Qué esperas del NFL Draft? Hazme saber en los comentarios o por medio de Twitter en @MauNFL.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: ¿Qué Safety Estará Ahí en el #58?" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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Star Blog

Cowboys Look To Be In For Brutal December Slate In 2019

Kevin Brady

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Top Free Agent Defensive End Options for the Dallas Cowboys 1
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

All sixteen regular season games count the same. A win in September means exactly the same as a win in December. Just as a touchdown in the first quarter counts for the same number of points as a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

While factually accurate, we know these statements aren't totally true. Championship teams often "hit their stride" in November and December, as they close out divisions, clinch playoff births, and prove they can stay cool and claim victory when the pressure mounts to its highest peak.

Under Jason Garrett, and Wade Phillips before him, the Cowboys have developed the reputation of not "winning the big one." In particular, they've been labeled as a team that "chokes" in December. Tony Romo dealt with his fair share of December/January demons during his career, but overcame them towards his final seasons. Dak Prescott has yet to advance past the Divisional Round of the postseason himself, but the narrative around the Cowboys has seemed to change.

Now, due to their late season run and victory over the Seattle Seahawks last season, people see Prescott and the Cowboys as a team that can find ways to win. A team, and a quarterback, who may not be as prolific as some of the other top squads in the conference, but one that you can never count out. I'd argue this has been the case with Dallas for quite some time under Garrett, but it is only now the narrative has changed.

Their late season fortitude will be tested again in 2019, however.

The NFL released the official schedule for the 2019 NFL season earlier this week, with the Cowboys getting some favorable (and some not-so-favorable) draws. What jumped off the page immediately to me, however, is how tough their final four games will be. And, of course, how critical victories in those games will be to gaining an NFC playoff spot.

Among those four December games are trips to Chicago and Philadelphia, two playoff teams a year ago who present problems in different ways. The Bears, known for their talented defense and innovative play-caller, and the Eagles, the always tough divisional foe.

Dallas also gets two home games during this stretch, hosting the Los Angeles Rams week 15, and finishing out the year against the Washington Redskins. The Rams, of course, eliminated the Cowboys from the postseason a year ago, and are expected to be one of the conference's best again.

The Cowboys will face a first-place schedule in 2019, and will have to prove that they are playoff-worthy down the stretch in December.



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Star Blog

Dallas Cowboys: 3 Schedule Predictions Ahead Of Wednesday’s Release

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys, Bears Proving Defense Can Win the NFC

Wednesday night the official 2019 NFL schedule will be released, and we will know the exact times and dates of each of the Cowboys' upcoming games.

We already know the opponents, however, and we know how the NFL typically likes to schedule games week to week. Based on both prior history and future opponents, here are 3 predictions for tonight's schedule release.

1. Cowboys Open Up With The Giants

I didn't say the predictions would be bold, did I?

The NFL loves to have the Cowboys open up against the New York Giants, and I see that being the case here again. Dallas/New York will always bring about solid ratings, but scheduling this game before the Giants (likely) fall out of contention is a smart move as well.

This game will be in Dallas at 4:25 eastern time, occupying that "America's Game of the Week" slot during the opening weekend. Because as much as everyone says they hate watching these NFC East games, the numbers bear out a different story.

2. Cowboys Play @ Saints Thursday After Thanksgiving

We know the Cowboys will play in an extra Thursday or Saturday night game this season. They always do.

Lately the league has liked to schedule them as the Thursday night game following Thanksgiving, and I don't see them breaking  that trend this season. Dallas has played the Vikings, Redskins, and Saints in this game the last three years, with the Cowboys/Saints game being one of the best of last year's Thursday slate.

Why not run it back at the Superdome this November?

3. Cowboys Close The Season With A Brutal December

This is broad prediction, so let's narrow it down a bit. I think the Cowboys will play three critical NFC games in December, at the very least. These games will include NFC East battles with the Washington Redskins (week 17) and Philadelphia Eagles, as well as a game at Chicago to face the Bears.

It's likely the Cowboys, Bears, and Eagles will be fighting for playoff positioning (or playoff births) down the stretch in December. Plus, anytime a combination of these three teams play, ratings will be drawn. I think they'll have Prescott battle Mitchell Trubisky and Carson Wentz this December, as he and the Cowboys look to clinch a consecutive playoff birth.



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