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Cowboys CTK: 21 Goes Primetime with Deion Sanders

RJ Ochoa

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Cowboys Blog - Cowboys CTK: 21 Goes Primetime with Deion Sanders 4

Happy Dallas Cowboys Day!

That’s right, baby. America’s Team is playing in a 60-minute long game of football this evening. The game will take place at Levi’s Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers, which will play host to the most primetime event of the 2015 NFL season… Super Bowl 50.

As we continue our Countdown To Kickoff series with the Greatest 21 in Dallas Cowboys History, the current Dallas Cowboys will hope to ride the waves of success generated by their current 21 into the primetime lights.

Part of that process will happen tonight as the Cowboys look to fine tune their roster and see which players they want to carry into the regular season on their quest to Super Bowl 50. Before that happens we’re going to establish just who is the Greatest 21 in Dallas Cowboys History.

The Following Players Have All Worn 21 For The Dallas Cowboys:

  • David Adams, RB
  • Dick Daniels, S
  • Doug Dennison, RB
  • James Dixon, WR
  • Glynn Gregory, WR/CB
  • Mark Higgs, RB
  • Carl Howard, CB
  • Mike Jenkins, CB
  • Adam Jones, CB
  • Julius Jones, RB
  • Billy Parks, WR
  • Joseph Randle*, RB
  • Derek Ross, CB
  • Deion Sanders^, CB
  • Lynn Scott, S

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

*Active player on the Dallas Cowboys roster

Deion Sanders

Cowboys Blog - Cowboys CTK: 21 Goes Primetime with Deion Sanders

The 1989 NFL Draft gave us the flashiest player to ever enter the NFL - Deion Sanders. The former Florida State Seminole was beginning a professional baseball career with the New York Yankees, but he was also one of the finest cornerback prospects to ever enter the NFL.

At the NFL Combine teams that are considering drafting players conduct interviews with them where they ask a series of questions, regarding football or anything in general. Deion famously would not show up to his interviews with teams not picking in the top 10 because they had “no shot at getting him,” as Deion was surely going in the top five.

The Atlanta Falcons did in fact spend the fifth overall pick on Deion Sanders and the lights of the NFL all gravitated towards its newest star.

Neon Deion

Cowboys Blog - Cowboys CTK: 21 Goes Primetime with Deion Sanders 1

Sanders paid off his high price when he returned the first punt that he fielded for a touchdown. That was the thing about Deion, he was so gifted as an overall athlete that he could do far more than just play the corner position.

Deion spent five years in the ATL establishing himself as one of the game’s biggest playmakers. He developed into the most feared corner throughout the league. He was so quick and so athletic that he literally took up an entire half of the field with his coverage.

The San Francisco 49ers signed Deion to a one-year contract entering the 1994 season. He brought his usual greatness as he returned three interceptions for touchdowns that season. One of the greater things about Deion, if you were on the right side of this, was his celebrations down the sideline. After he’d pick you off he would dance his way all to the endzone, high-steppin’ the whole way. He and his wild personality helped the 49ers beat the Cowboys in that NFC Championship Game and win Super Bowl XXIX.

Deion Sweepstakes

Entering the 1995 season Deion Sanders was yet again a free agent. He was the hottest commodity on the market and he was commanding amounts of money that proved that. The Philadelphia Eagles, Oakland Raiders, Miami Dolphins, New Orleans Saints, and San Francisco 49ers all wanted #21 on their roster.

Jerry Jones is a businessman like no other. When starting cornerback Kevin Smith was lost to injury early in the 1995 season, Mr. Jones knew that the acquisition of Deion would now be more than a prize… it became a necessity. Jerry wooed Deion down to Dallas, finally settling on a then-record seven year contract worth $35 million dollars.

Primetime

Deion didn’t make his Cowboy debut until Week 9 of the 1995 season, a game that was played against his original team… the Atlanta Falcons. The Cowboys trumped Atlanta and began to pick up momentum towards the playoffs.

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Deion only recorded 2 interceptions in the 1995 season, but his effect was certainly felt. In Super Bowl XXX against the Pittsburgh Steelers the mere threat of Deion forced Neil O’Donnell elsewhere… and in the direction of Larry Brown, who picked off O’Donnell twice.

Sanders and the Cowboys were champions, and in a Cowboy uniform Deion had developed into an even bigger megastar. Over the course of his career he seemed to have his biggest performances when the lights were brightest and the attention was highest. It was due to this that Deion Sanders generated one of the greatest nicknames in sports history… Primetime.

Primetime was one of the most fun players to watch in his career. He put together 14 interceptions in just 5 years with the Cowboys, but he brought a level of fear to the secondary that influenced the game far beyond any statistic can measure.

21st And Prime

Deion can currently be seen on NFL Network and CBS as he’s a part of the Thursday Night Game crew. His primetime persona has followed him into the tv studio as he’s always got something clever to say. Following all of the games on Sundays he usually picks his top 10 performances of the day and counts them down in his “21st and Prime” segment.

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Deion Sanders is arguably the greatest cornerback to ever live, and while his most impressive run was with the Atlanta Falcons he did the number 21 proudly during his time in Dallas. 21 still has an air of “prime” to it and Cowboy fans everywhere are hoping that Joseph Randle can continue that trend as the Cowboys look to have a superb season with him running the rock.

Primetime was one of the greatest showmen that the NFL has ever seen. He is already a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 2011, and will forever be someone that people remember across generations of football. 21 may not be a prime number, but the jersey is… and Deion Sanders is the Greatest 21 in Dallas Cowboys History.

Check back tomorrow to find out who the Greatest 20 in Dallas Cowboys History is!


Want to share your opinions on who should be featured on our Countdown To Kickoff? Email me at rjochoa@insidethestar.com or Tweet @rjochoa.

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys CTK: 21 Goes Primetime with Deion Sanders" in the comments below. You can also email me at RJ.Ochoa@SlantSports.com, or Tweet to me at @RJOchoa!



I like long walks on the beach, mystery novels, no just kidding those suck. The Dallas Cowboys were put on this earth for us all to love and appreciate. I do that 24/7/365. I also love chicken parmesan. Let's roll. @RJOchoa if you wanna shout!

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Star Blog

What Are Realistic Expectations for Cowboys LB Sean Lee?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Are Dallas Cowboys Building A Championship Defense? 2

For many years, Linebacker Sean Lee has been the face of the Dallas Cowboys defense. However, that's quickly changing. The young duo consisting of Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch have taken over the linebacker position by dominating the field from sideline to sideline with their explosive talent. As a rookie, Vander Esch filled in for Lee at the weak linebacker position when the veteran went down injured and never gave the job back.

Currently, uncertainty surrounds Sean Lee, who took a pay cut earlier in the year to stay with the franchise he's played for since the beginning of his professional career in 2010. What will his role be in a young fueled defense in the upcoming season?

As we've all been able to see throughout his career, Sean Lee is one of the best in the game when he's healthy. Unfortunately, that's not very often. His injury proneness led him to a position change years ago, when he was moved from the MIKE (middle linebacker) to the WILL (weak side linebacker) position. Now, those two spots are taken care of.

Where does this leaves Lee? The main question is whether or not he'll move to the strong side. Many question if this would be the correct call, given that he could be at even more risk of suffering yet another injury in a position that leads to more contact. The other option would be for him to be Vander Esch's backup at WILL.

Wish List for Dallas Cowboys 1st Preseason Game

Dallas Cowboys LBs Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander Esch, and Sean Lee

Lately, it seems like the Cowboys will indeed move him to the strong-side. After all, it only makes sense to have your best three players on the field at the same time. On minicamp, the Cowboys have been playing the veteran at SAM, letting him get reps and grow comfortable in what seems to be his new job.

But even if Sean Lee starts lining up on the strong side, what can we expect from him next season? The way the NFL offenses operate now leads to teams sending their nickel packages to the field more often than not. For the Cowboys 4-3 defense, that means three cornerbacks, two linebackers. When that's the case, it will be Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith who we see out there, not Lee.

Damien Wilson was the team's "starter" on the strong side, and he only managed to get 286 snaps, according to Pro Football Reference. That represents 28% of the team's total snaps. Even if Sean Lee becomes the starting strong side linebacker, we likely won't be seeing him as much.

Even still, I'd expect Sean Lee's experience to play a big factor when the team needs Jaylon Smith or Leighton Vander Esch to catch their breath. Lee could jump in and play a few snaps at any LB spot and do a good job at it.

After all, we can't forget that despite his injuries, Lee is a remarkable player on defense. He should still be one of the smartest linebackers with extraordinary instincts. There's a reason why, before Vander Esch arrived to America's Team, the defense crumbled without him. Last year, despite losing the starting gig, Lee still had 118 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and an interception. The longtime veteran can still play.

It will be odd for Cowboys Nation to watch Lee on a completely new role. It's also hard to put the finger on what his production will look like at the end of the year. If there's one thing we know though, is that the veteran will work hard every practice trying to get the most playing time he can. We should be excited about the team's top three linebackers.

Tell me what you think about "What Are Realistic Expectations for Cowboys LB Sean Lee?" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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Dak Prescott Impresses, Draws Compliments All Minicamp Long

Kevin Brady

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Dak Prescott and Coaches Both to Blame for Cowboys Offensive Woes
James D. Smith via AP

Dak Prescott stood before the media Thursday in a Stetson Cowboy hat, answering questions about his upcoming contract extension.

“I’ve got my cowboy hat on, so I’m a Cowboy, we’ll say that.”

Prescott has cemented himself as the franchise quarterback of America's Team, and now it's time for the franchise to pay him like it. Set to earn roughly $34 million per year (according to recent rumors/reports), Prescott is going to be a very rich and comfortable man in the near future.

But, for now, he still plays under his fourth round rookie contract. You wouldn't be able to tell by watching him on the field, however. Though it was just minicamp, Prescott was impressive as ever over the last couple weeks of practice, earning praise from all levels within the organization.

Veteran Jason Witten complimented both Prescott's anticipation and accuracy, saying his throws have been "off the charts" at minicamp. Prescott himself said that this is the best he's felt since he's entered the league, and it certainly makes sense for this to be the case.

"Is it three years under my belt or just seeing defenses a whole lot more clear, being quicker and faster in everything I want to do, having great teammates around me? Who really knows the answer, but I feel great. I feel confident, and my teammates do, as well.” - Prescott to DallasCowboys.com

If Prescott was ever going to be comfortable, hungry, and ready to go, this is likely the time that it would happen. He has three relatively successful seasons under his belt, and ended 2018 on the best stretch of his career. He is the unquestioned starting quarterback for this team, and has the backing of every key decision maker in the building.

Prescott now has an offensive coordinator who he has not only worked closely with (in some capacity) since he entered the league in 2016, but is also being lauded for his creativity as an offensive mastermind. His quarterbacks coach, Jon Kitna, has been receiving similar praise for how he can coach up Prescott and get his footwork consistent, to help him "throw it through a Fruit Loop."

The time is now for Dak Prescott, and it's encouraging to see how he is responding to this increased pressure and responsibility. Then again we should have no doubt that he will respond positively, as he as throughout his entire young career.

Whenever faced with adversity, Prescott has answered the bell. Now he has all the supporters he needs, and just needs to prove them right.



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Does RB Ezekiel Elliott Have A Chance At NFL MVP?

Kevin Brady

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Ezekiel Elliott

Who is the Cowboys best player?

A question debated seemingly daily on social media, most fans seem to center their arguments around the same few names. Dak Prescott, Zack Martin, Tyron Smith, DeMarcus Lawrence, and Ezekiel Elliott.

As a running back, it's quite possible that Elliott is both the best of that bunch and the least important to the team's overall success. NFL.com's Adam Schein disagrees with the latter statement, however, placing Ezekiel Elliott among his top ten contenders for 2019 NFL MVP.

"I think the Cowboys are going to challenge for the Super Bowl in 2019 -- and I think Zeke fuels this team. When Elliott runs for 95-plus yards, the Cowboys are 19-4; when he falls below that benchmark, they're 9-8." - Adam Schein

Schein's prediction will no doubt make Cowboys Nation swoon, but does Elliott really have the opportunity to compete for an MVP award?

For one, this would require the Cowboys be among the best teams in the league this season. It's quite possible, as they did win 10 regular season and 1 playoff game a year ago, but it will have to happen once again for Elliott to be considered.

Next, Ezekiel Elliott would have to put up incredible numbers. Well, it's safe to assume this will likely be the case if condition one is met. Elliott is going to get a lot of opportunities to touch the ball each game, and finding himself among the league's rushing leaders has never been an issue for the young running back. Especially if the team has a lead and is running the ball to kill clock.

Even if both these conditions prove true, though, Elliott will still have trouble getting himself in the real MVP discussion. These awards tend to go to certain positions, and running back is not among that list. If Dallas has such a successful 2019, and their offense is clicking, it's more likely Dak Prescott will be the one contending for that MVP honor.

I know to some it sounds crazy, but Prescott will likely need to be closer to MVP level than Elliott if the Cowboys are to contend in the way Adam Schein suggests in his article.

So, likely, Schein should have named Prescott among his top ten MVP contenders, not Elliott.



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