Happy Saturday one and all! Isn’t it lovely to have football back in your lives? Everything just feels right when there’s Dallas Cowboys action in the air. You know what else is going to be in the air? Dez Bryant. In 43 days Dez and Co. will be fielding touchdown passes on the field at AT&T Stadium while the Cowboys trounce the New York Football Giants. To commemorate that inevitable joy, we’re going to get airborne for the Greatest 43 in Dallas Cowboys History.
The Following Players Have All Worn 43 For The Dallas Cowboys:
- Greg Briggs, SS
- Cliff Harris, FS
- Elvis Patterson, CB
- Don Perkins, FB
- Izell Reese, FS
- Gerald Sensabaugh, FS
- Keith Smith, LB
The number 43 has belonged to two of the more revered Cowboys in franchise history. They played completely different positions and were instrumental to the team at their given points in time:
As you probably know the Dallas Cowboys entered the world as an NFL franchise during the 1960 NFL season. What you may not know is that they entered the league too late to participate in the 1960 NFL Draft. This forced them to sign players if and when the Dallas Cowboys team would in fact become a reality. One of the first players that the Cowboys signed to such a deal was the fullback out of New Mexico, Don Perkins.
Technically the Baltimore Colts drafted Perkins in 1960, but the league allowed the Cowboys to retain his rights. Perkins didn’t hit the field at the Cotton Bowl until the 1961 season, a season in which he earned the NFL’s Rookie of the Year title.
Now Don Perkins wasn’t exactly a long-distance type of runner. He was really shifty and had tremendous balance as he helped the Dallas Cowboys get off the ground as a franchise. In a game against the expansion Minnesota Vikings in his rookie year of 1961, Don Perkins became the first Dallas Cowboy to ever rush for 100 yards in a game. In 1962 Perkins’ 945 yards and 7 touchdowns made him the first Dallas Cowboy to ever be named All-Pro.
Don Perkins retired before the 1969 season, but not without some serious accolades. Perkins led the team in rushing six out of eight seasons, he ranks 3rd in franchise history in both yards and touchdowns, and in addition to his lone All-Pro team nod was named to 6 Pro Bowls. One of the greater accomplishments by Don Perkins was helping to desegregate the hotels that the team would travel to for road games in 1968.
The number 43 saw its first shoulders in Don Perkins, who took it a long way. In 1976 Don Perkins was inducted into the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor, along with his pal and fellow Don, Don Meredith. He helped the Cowboys reach a level of respect across the NFL, and he falls just short of being our Greatest 43.
1970 saw the NFL and AFL finally merge to form one whole league. The draft that year saw a gentleman by the name of Cliff Harris taken by no one. The Dallas Cowboys invited the former Ouachita Baptist University defensive back to training camp in order to see what the kid was made of.
Harris managed to beat out the 3rd round draft pick Charlie Waters for the starting free safety spot in that year of 1970. Military service came calling and Harris valiantly took a step away from football to fulfill it. He returned well in time to be a part of the 1971 squad that beat the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl VI.
Look Out, Here Comes 43
When Cornell Green retired in 1975 Charlie Waters joined Cliff Harris in the defensive backfield. They combined to be one of the greater safety tandems in the NFL throughout the 1970s.
Cliff Harris was widely regarded for his amazing speed. He made it a point to wear the same pads that kickers did so that absolutely nothing would impede his ability to move quickly. Harris generated plenty of speed that allowed him to punish opposing ball carriers. Pro Football Hall of Fame Coach George Allen once referred to Harris as a “rolling ball of butcher knives” due to the havoc that he would impose on people.
#43: Cliff Harris
Cliff Harris suited up for the Dallas Cowboys for the entire 1970s decade. His career started in 1970 and ended at the culmination of the 1979 season. In that time he accomplished quite a bit:
- 4 First-Team All- Pro Selections (1975, 1976, 1977, 1978)
- 6 Pro Bowl Selections (1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979)
- 5 Super Bowl Appearances (V, VI, X, XII, XIII)
- 2 Super Bowl Victories (VI and XII)
- 1970s NFL All-Decade Team
- Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor, Class of 2004
The safety position is largely defined in today’s NFL thanks to the style of play that Captain Crash brought to the Dallas Cowboys. Cliff Harris was a force on his Cowboy teams, the defense was top 10 every year with him in the lineup, and was the model of consistency in the defensive backfield. Among his many awards and achievements Cliff Harris can now add the Greatest 43 in Dallas Cowboys History to his collection.
Check back tomorrow to find out who the Greatest 42 in Dallas Cowboys History is!