Happy Hump Day!
Currently, we sit 40 days until Week One, and while I have said in my past editorials that I’m excited for the start of the season, I have to admit now that I’m kind of conflicted.
From hearing both kickers are missing numerous kicks in Training Camp to seeing WR James Washington go down with a foot injury that will sideline him for 6-10 weeks, the stress this team gives me yearly has begun early for me.
But, let’s talk about something more exciting, and that’s today’s Countdown to Kickoff post, which features another legendary safety. Also, if you have been keeping up with the series, you realize this is the fourth safety in a row that has been selected, dating back to when it first started with FS Cliff Harris getting picked as the Greatest #43.
While scanning through the ten players that wore #40, I realized only one player truly stood out among his peers–and that was SS Bill Bates. A 3-time SB Champion, Bates was another one of those guys known for his tenacious hits back in the day during the legendary Dallas Cowboys defenses.
But, before we dive more in-depth, check out the other players who wore #40 along with Bates:
- Bobby Joe Conrad, WR
- Keith Davis, FS
- Jimmy Harris, FS
- Eric Hurt, CB
- Danny McCray, SS
- Steven Parker, CB
- Jim Stiger, RB
- Les Strayhorn, RB
- Nahshon Wright, CB
Bill Bates NFL Career
Referred to as “Real Kill” by his HC Tom Landry, Bates’s path to becoming a full-time starter for the Dallas Cowboys began on special teams. After going undrafted in 1983, Bates signed with his favorite childhood team and starred on specials teams his rookie season while rocking the star on his helmet.
Following a successful rookie season that earned him NFL Special Teams Player of the Year, Bates took it up a notch by snagging his first Pro Bowl; and an All-Pro selection.
While that could have likely meant Bates was bound to be only a “special team’s ace” his whole NFL career, in 1986, he earned himself the starting SS gig. However, he only was used in nickel defense packages for two years and became a full-time special teams guy for the rest of his career.
Besides his three championships, one Pro Bowl honor, and one All-Pro selection, here are the accolades that Bates landed during his Cowboys tenure:
- 4-Time Bob Lilly Award winner, which went to the player fans felt displayed the most leadership and character on the field.
- An Ed Block Courage Award winner after overcoming a season-ending injury knee injury in 1992 and bouncing back to lead the team in special team tackles (25).
- While I wasn’t alive to see him cause havoc on the field, I would award him for being the most gritty, balls-to-wall player who put his life on the line for his team and, to me, was one of the hardest workers EVER to play for the franchise.
After a hard-working 15-year NFL career, Bates hung up his cleats and became an assistant coach for the franchise for five years before leaving to coach his sons at the high school level.
But as much praise I have flooded your Wednesday morning over Bates, I have to give him his flowers one more time as he is the Greatest #40 in Dallas Cowboys History. With that in mind, congratulations to Mr.Bates on the crown today, and be sure to come back Thursday as we crown the Greatest #39 in franchise history.
Also, don’t be afraid to drop your favorite memory of Mr. Bates in the comments below.