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!
Why I’m Not Buying The Jason Witten Rejuvenation Story
Last week, Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett made headlines with some quotes about the return of Jason Witten. Neither Garrett nor Witten tend to make headlines with their words often, but the two combined to do so with a quote this week.
“Yeah, absolutely. He’s been excited about every part of it ever since I met him and that hasn’t changed,” coach Jason Garrett said. “The work that he’s done in the weight room in the off-season program has been outstanding. His testing numbers and all of that are what they’ve been or even better. And he just has an unbelievable way about him. Tremendous passion for the game. And he demonstrates that every day. Witt looks good. He’s excited to be back and we’re certainly fortunate to have him back.” - Jason Garrett on Witten.
Multiple Cowboys' media outlets ran with these quotes, looking to show that the Cowboys have found a version of Jason Witten that they have not seen in quite some time. They are, publicly, stating that they believe a year away from the game did Witten some good, and that he will be a much healthier and fresher player in 2019 than he was back when he last played in 2017.
As a fan of the team, I sure hope this is the case. But as a realistic human being, I can't get behind this at all.
Jason Witten hasn't been very good for quite some time now. I know he's a Cowboy legend, and will forever be a fan favorite, but the facts are the facts. As a run blocker Witten has regressed greatly in his later years. More often it seemed he was re-adjusting his jersey after a missed block than he was making blocks to spring Ezekiel Elliott on the edge.
As a receiver, Witten's much slower than he used to be. And while he was never a blazer who relied on his speed to win, his lack of speed certainly holds him back in today's game. And if the Cowboys want to be multiple and versatile on offense, I'm not sure how a greatly-aged tight end helps them to do so.
He's still the smart, instinctive route runner he's always been, but at 37 years old what can we realistically expect from him?
I'll be honest, I'm very skeptical that Jason Witten is going to give the Cowboys anything in 2019. Maybe earlier in the season he will look better than expected, but can he withstand a full NFL season? It's impossible to say for sure now, but I'm absolutely not buying that he's rejuvenated or extra-fresh after a year off from football.
Connor Williams Hopes Added Weight, Experience Aids Him In 2019
Offensive lineman Connor Williams had himself an interesting start to his young career. The second round pick was expected to be a plug-and-play guard for the Cowboys, earning the starting left guard spot from just about the first day of training camp.
The results from Williams' play were mixed, however. At moments Connor Williams looked like his athletic, technically sound self, working well on the Cowboys outside zone runs. Other times, though, he was simply overpowered by bigger and stronger defensive tackles.
Williams lost his left guard spot due to injury late in the season, and when Xavier Su'a-Filo came in and played relatively well, fans soured a bit on the then-rookie lineman. Still there was no question that Williams was the better player between the two, and he rightfully started in both the Cowboys playoff games last season.
Now entering year two, and with third round pick Connor McGovern potentially competing for a guard spot and rumors of a move to right tackle swirling around him, Williams believes he's done enough to improve before his Sophomore year.
Connor Williams spoke to DallasCowboys.com, and gave some decent quotes on what his offseason preparation has looked like thus far. Williams emphasized that his main goal was to add strength and size, something he looks to have clearly done based on recent photographs.
“I think I’ve put myself in a good position. Now it’s just about refining the technique and feeling comfortable.” - Connor Williams
According to Williams he played at a "light 300" pounds in 2018, but is now tipping the scales at 315 pounds. That's quite the difference, especially considering that Williams carries the weight pretty well in his frame.
All Pro veteran guard Zack Martin has taken Williams under his wing, as the young lineman credits Martin for being his lifting partner this offseason.
Right tackle might be in Connor Williams' 2020 future, but as of now, he has to ready himself to compete at left guard against the heavier defensive tackles he once struggled with. It's very encouraging to see the progress he has made so far.
Travis Frederick’s Return Highlights Start Of Cowboys’ OTAs
The Cowboys opening of voluntary OTAs came with some serious excitement from football-starved fans. But as we all know, these workouts are just about meaningless in terms of storylines for the upcoming season.
I say "just about meaningless" because there are some storylines which matter, though. Travis Frederick's return, of course, is one of those storylines.
After missing all of 2018 due to Guillain-Barre syndrome, Frederick appears to have gained his strength and ability back heading into 2019. Now he is back where he belongs, as the starting center for the Dallas Cowboys.
@tfrederick72 🔙 at it! 💪🏼 #OTAs https://t.co/wht2Lh5yr5
Travis Frederick's importance to the Cowboys cannot be understated. In addition to being one of the best linemen in all of football, the All-Pro veteran center is responsible for much of the pre-snap communication across the offensive line. His absence was clearly felt in 2018, even as Joe Looney played well-above the preseason expectation level.
Frederick returns to anchor an offensive line which is surrounded with some serious pre-season hype. With Zack Martin back to full health, Connor Williams having a year under his belt, and newly-drafted Connor McGovern comes in with high hopes of starting on the interior.
Regardless of how the rest of the Cowboys' offensive line works itself out, it was great to see Travis Frederick back in action, even if it was during a non-contact voluntary practice.
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