I recently got into a conversation about breakfast cereals. Let’s be honest here there are some that you love and some that you hate. Cinnamon Toast Crunch? Excellent. Honey Combs? Not so much. Ultimately we decided that Apple Jacks are pretty universally well liked and if you disagree well then you are obviously wrong.
Hopefully we can all agree on who the Greatest 54 in Dallas Cowboys History is. The list is a little shorter than most, but there are two here who we all know and love.
The Following Players Have All Worn 54 For The Dallas Cowboys:
^Pro Football Hall of Famer
This might be our most loaded list yet, and I’m just talking about two guys: Chuck Howley and Randy White. Between these two Cowboys we’ve got:
- 27 seasons played for the Dallas Cowboys
- 137.5 Sacks
- 15 Pro Bowl Selections
- 14 First-Team All-Pro Selections
- 5 NFC Championships
- 2 Super Bowl Victories
- 2 Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Awards
- 2 Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor Memberships
- 1 Bust at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, OH
1959 was not kind to Chuck Howley of the Chicago Bears. He suffered what appeared to be a career-ending knee injury and he thought his football days were over. Howley decided to make a comeback in 1961 and Tom Landry of the Dallas Cowboys thought he’d be a perfect fit for his “Doomsday Defense”.
It wasn’t until 1963 when Chuck moved to the weakside linebacker spot. It was here that his incredible speed, since healed from his injury, allowed him to shine. Howley had a knack for being around the ball and became quite the interception artist.
Super Bowl MVP
Howley’s finest hour perhaps came on the Sunday of Super Bowl V. This #54 had two interceptions AND recovered a fumble…all in a losing effort as the Baltimore Colts outlasted the Dallas Cowboys. In response to his incredible performance, Chuck Howley was named the MVP of Super Bowl V…despite playing for the losing team. This was the first time in the Super Bowl era that a defensive player was graced with the award and is still the only time in NFL History that a member of the losing team received it.
Chuck Howley and the Dallas Cowboys showed extreme resilience the following season and made it back to play in Super Bowl VI. Howley of course played brilliantly, recovering a fumble and returning, surprise, another interception 41 yards.
Chuck Howley: Cowboy Legend
All in all the Cowboys had 13 wonderful seasons with Chuck Howley on the roster. He gave them an extreme defensive effort and was a ball hawk in an era where passing wasn’t done at the volume that it is today. He was inducted into the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor in 1977 (the year the Cowboys won their second Super Bowl) and has yet to receive his well-deserved Pro Football Hall of Fame Gold Jacket.
In 1975 Gil Brandt and the Dallas Cowboy group had a lot of thoughts regarding the second overall pick in the draft. It essentially boiled down to two options, Jackson State’s Walter Payton or Maryland’s Randy White. The Cowboys went with Randy (and ended up with Pro Football Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett in 1977 so it all worked out) and never looked back.
Randy White started his Cowboy Career backing up the Greatest 55 in Dallas Cowboys History, Lee Roy Jordan, at middle linebacker. Randy hadn’t necessarily lived up to expectations and Tom Landry decided to put his hand in the dirt and move him to defensive tackle in his third season.
Half Man-Half Monster: The Manster
Holy all things football did Randy White belong at defensive tackle. Nicknamed “The Manster” Randy White was indeed half man and half monster. The Manster was fully on showcase in 1977…he was named to his first All-Pro Team, took a trip to the Pro Bowl, AND won Super Bowl XII. Randy’s performance in the Super Bowl was so incredible that, on his 25th birthday, he was named Co-MVP with teammate, the Greatest 79 in Dallas Cowboys History, Harvey Martin. This is the only time in NFL History that two people have shared the Super Bowl MVP award, which adds another sense of uniqueness to Randy’s career.
Randy White: Cowboy Legend
White would go on to continue to flourish in the blue and silver. In 14 seasons he missed only one game and accumulated over 1,100 tackles (701 solo). The Manster retired after the 1988 season, which ultimately also proved to be Tom Landry’s last, and rode off into the NFL sunset. In 1994 Randy White joined the Pro Football Hall of Fame and his legacy was immortalized.
The Greatest 54 In Dallas Cowboys History
It’s very obvious that there is a lot to consider here. Both of these gentlemen gave the Dallas Cowboys all that they had and earned an enormous amount of accolades along the way. Well here’s one more.
Chuck Howley and Randy White are BOTH the Greatest 54 in Dallas Cowboys History
The number 54 is arguably, save for 88, the greatest number to ever be worn in Dallas Cowboys History. Chuck Howley and Randy White each established their own legacies in the number and both put it on the level of greatness that it resides. Like Randy White’s Super Bowl MVP it only felt right to have Co-54s as Chuck Howley has his own MVP. They each have unique circumstances regarding those awards with Randy sharing his and Chuck being the only player to receive it on a losing team. Let’s add one more level of unique and have these two share the number for all of time.
Check back tomorrow to find out who the Greatest 53 in Dallas Cowboys History is!