Welcome back to Cowboys on the Clock! In just 13 short days, the Dallas Cowboys will go on the clock with the 4th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. This means that in today’s profile, we will be taking a look at the team’s only ever selection with the 13th overall pick.
This pick took place in the 1961 NFL Draft, and it is none other than the great Bob Lilly.
The Cowboys paid a heavy price in 1961 to draft Lilly, who starred in his college career at nearby Texas Christian University. Entering the first round without a pick, they traded the following year’s first round selection to the Cleveland Browns along with Paul Dickson, an offensive tackle, in order to move up to #13.
While Lilly initially started his time in Dallas at defensive end, it didn’t take long for Tom Landry to move him to tackle – where he began to dominate opposing offenses at the heart of the Cowboys’ “Doomsday Defense”.
Bob Lilly’s first full season as a defensive tackle would come in 1964. This season he would be named a first-team all NFL player, beginning a streak for him that went all the way up until the 1969 campaign.
It wasn’t until 1965 that Dallas could get out of the basement in the conference, finishing in second place after finishing in fifth place of worse in each of Lilly’s seasons with the team. In 1966, the Cowboys took another step up, winning the conference for the first of what would be 6 consecutive years.
Despite their new-found regular season success, it would again take the Cowboys some time to succeed in the playoffs. The team would not reach the Super Bowl until 1970, already Lilly’s tenth with the silver and blue.
This year would mark the disappointing and sloppy Super Bowl V loss for the Cowboys, as the Baltimore Colts got the best of them by the score of 16-13.
Lilly and the Cowboys would use this as motivation to return to the Super Bowl again the following season. Bob was named to the all NFL first team once again, as Dallas dominated the Miami Dolphins 24-3 from New Orleans in Super Bowl VI.
To this day, the 3 points allowed by Dallas in this game stands as the lowest in Super Bowl history. Lilly also set a individual record in this game, as he recorded a sack for a loss of a record 29 yards.
Lilly would still have three more stellar seasons in him following his first and only Super Bowl win with the Cowboys. The team made the playoffs in all but one of these years, losing handily in the Championship Game each time.
The second of these playoff losses came to the Minnesota Vikings, which was the only game Lilly missed in his career.
Bob Lilly retired following the team’s 8-6 season in 1974. His 14 year career was highlighted by 11 Pro Bowl appearances. The athletic yet intimidating defensive tackle was named to the all-century team by Sporting News, who gave him the honor of “the greatest defensive tackle in NFL history”.
Sporting News would also go on to rank the 100 greatest football players of all time in 1999. Lilly was 10th on the list, ahead of all defensive linemen and behind just two defenders.
In 1975, he was inducted into the Cowboys Ring of Honor. Five years later in 1980, he was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame on his first year of eligibility.
Bob Lilly, known as Mr. Cowboy, is the only player in franchise history to wear #74. For this reason, he was fittingly named the greatest Cowboy to sport that number on July 1st, 2015, in Staff Writer RJ Ochoa’s Countdown to Kickoff series here on Inside The Star:
Tomorrow on “Cowboys on the Clock”: 1991 first round pick Alvin Harper
Thank you for taking the time to read about an all time Dallas Cowboys’ legend! If you’ve enjoyed this series, share your thoughts with a comment below the article. You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.