Let me answer that burning question you’ve got. That football game you remember, you didn’t dream it. Pads collided, a touchdown was thrown, and everything was right in the world once again. Football is back, baby.
The Minnesota Vikings and Pittsburgh Steelers kicked things off in last night’s Hall of Fame Game. The Cowboys will play their first preseason game this Thursday out in San Diego (hopefully Ron Burgundy makes an appearance).
34 days from now the games will start counting. We’re continuing our Countdown To Kickoff series with that number, and boy is it a good one. So kick back, relax, and forget that it’s Monday. Enjoy some football lore as we break down the Greatest 34 in Dallas Cowboys History.
The Following Players Have All Worn 34 For The Dallas Cowboys:
When you think of 34 across NFL History there is only one man that comes to mind: Sweetness. Walter Payton was the epitome of greatness and we need to do his number justice. In terms of Dallas Cowboys History there are two worthy carriers of the 34 flame, an arguable Hall of Fame defensive back and an all-world athlete running back.
If you never have then I demand that you to go watch whatever highlights you can find of Herschel Walker. The dude was an animal with a football in his hand. He is widely regarded as perhaps the finest athlete of all-time. Hercules, I mean Herschel, came out of the University of Georgia with a Heisman Trophy in his hand and everybody in the world wanting him on their team.
Walker elected to play in the United States Football League for the New Jersey Generals, who allowed him to turn pro after his junior season at Georgia. The USFL folded after a few years, and Herschel was out of options… or so he thought.
The General Turns Cowboy
Suspecting an inevitable USFL collapse, the quick-minded Dallas Cowboys were one step ahead of the bunch when they drafted Herschel Walker in the 5th round of the 1985 NFL Draft. “Oh the USFL is done? Herschel Walker needs somewhere to play football? WHAT’S UP EVERYBODY!”
Herschel laced up his Cowboy boots (he was so fast that they needed laces) for the first time in 1986. All you Cowboy aficionados will know that there was already a Heisman Trophy winning running back in the backfield, and someone who might appear on our CTK tomorrow, by the name of Tony Dorsett.
Tony Dorsett and Herschel Walker became the first Heisman backfield tandem in NFL History. They combined for 1,485 yards and 17 touchdowns in that 1986 season. Imagine them in fantasy football!
Needles to say it worked out a lot better than Chip Kelly’s Heisman-winning quarterback experiment is going in Philadelphia.
The Herschel Walker Trade
1988 was the Year of Herschel. With Tony Dorsett retired he dropped 1,514 yards rushing and had over 2,000 total yards. He went to his second straight Pro Bowl and things looked good heading into 1989.
Jimmy Johnson is a wheeler and dealer. Once he became Head Coach of the Dallas Cowboys, he executed what would forever be known as the Herschel Walker Trade. He took the most valuable commodity on the Dallas Cowboys and sent him north, to the Minnesota Vikings. Jimmy FLEECED the Vikings and got numerous players and draft picks in return… two of which that became Emmitt Smith and Darren Woodson.
Herschel’s time as a Cowboy was impressive, and he will forever be linked to the greatest trade in NFL History that enabled the Cowboys to build the foundation for their 1990s dynasty. He was an all-world athlete, but he falls just short of our Greatest 34 prize.
Any guesses out there on my all-time favorite non-Cowboy wide receiver? Jerry Rice, Lynn Swann, and Fred Biletnikoff are up there. There’s just something special about the way that Paul Warfield played his Hall of Fame career that captivates me.
Maybe it’s his 8,565 career yards, 85 career touchdowns, or 7 straight Pro Bowl Selections starting in 1968. Or maybe it’s that he was one of the most insanely lethal vertical threats that has ever played the game of football.
Paul Warfield carried the Miami Dolphins to their first Super Bowl berth in 1971 with 996 receiving yards and a league-leading 11 touchdowns. Surely he was going to have a significant impact and lead them to victory, right? Enter the Greatest 34 in Dallas Cowboys History.
Cornell Green is one of the most decorated players in the history of Utah State… basketball! He never played one single down of football while in college. Remember that.
Utah State basketball coach LaDell Anderson called up the Cowboys in 1962 and told them that they should check out this guy that couldn’t be stopped. He raved about his athleticism and rebounding prowess on the hardwood. The guy was worth a shot, right?
Cornell The Corner
Green managed to make the Cowboys roster as an undrafted free agent in 1962, and earned the nickname “Sweet Lips” from his teammates along the way. Cornell played well that first year, finding himself on the NFL’s All-Rookie Team, and played even better in his second season when he had a career-high 7 interceptions.
Tom Landry was known as an innovator on the defensive side of the ball. He had insanely intricate schemes, multiple switches, thingamabobs, and whatchamacallits. There was arguably no one more perfect for this insanity than Cornell Green. The number 34 became a quarterback’s worst nightmare as Cornell’s athleticism allowed him to be wherever the ball was.
Safety And The Super Bowl
In 1970 Coach Landry had some depth issues at the corner position. He decided it would best benefit the team to move Mel Renfro to play the opposite corner of Herb Adderley. They’re both in the Hall of Fame so I’d say that was smart. This left Cornell without a position! What was Cornell going to do now?
Go back to safety. Play center field. Dominate the game.
The Cowboys took their first trip to the Super Bowl in that 1970 season… and ultimately lost to the Baltimore Colts. The team would return one year later, looking to finally immortalize themselves as the champions of the world. Their opponents? Paul Warfield and the Miami Dolphins.
That’s right. The Dallas Cowboys took on the most lethal receiver in the game with all of the marbles on the line. How were they going to stop him? Sure they had Doomsday, but this was Paul Warfield! He was impossible to contain!
Not for Cornell Green.
Tom Landry had, in one of the first instances of this tactic, Cornell Green completely shadow Paul Warfield that Sunday. Eliminate him from the game, Cornell. Help us win the Super Bowl.
Cornell did as he was told. From the safety position he blanketed Paul Warfield and made so much eye contact with Dolphins quarterback Bob Griese that you'd think Bob had something funny on his face.
What about the legendary Paul Warfield? How did Cornell Green fare against the future Pro Football Hall of Famer?
Paul Warfield's Super Bowl VI stat line - 4 catches for 39 yards
Without any production from their star receiver, the Dolphins only managed to score 3 total points thanks to the superlative play by Doomsday and the incomparable Cornell Green. Roger Staubach and the 'Boys dropped 24 on the Fins and the Cowboys were World Champions.
#34: Cornell Green
Call it Hall of Fame hangover from this past weekend, but Cornell Green belongs in the hallowed halls of Canton, OH. He put together a 13 year career in which he had an amazingly poetic 34 interceptions. Not to mention that in Super Bowl VI he single-handedly neutralized the most dominating player of the time when the Cowboys needed him to.
Cornell Green dominated the NFL at cornerback AND safety. He is an amazing basketball player, a Super Bowl Champion, and among many other things… Cornell Green is the Greatest 34 in Dallas Cowboys History.
Check back tomorrow to find out who the Greatest 33 in Dallas Cowboys History is!
Are the Dallas Cowboys Distancing Themselves from HC Jason Garrett?
Training camp is always an exciting time for the Dallas Cowboys, with 2018's proceedings being no exception. A major difference this year is the hype carrying over to the Cowboys coaching staff, featuring newcomers at the positional level everywhere but running back, safety, and defensive tackle.
Experienced coaches like Kris Richard, Paul Alexander, and Sanjay Lal will have a big impact on the Cowboys development as a 9-7 team that's only gotten younger this offseason. Still likely in need of a playoff appearance to save the job of Head Coach Jason Garrett and his coordinators, one can't help but question Garrett's effectiveness with this year's team.
The Cowboys appearance on NFL Films' latest All or Nothing series offered Cowboys Nation a rare look inside this team's day-to-day activities, including Garrett's role as a motivator and leader to many coaches no longer with the team.
Garrett's walk through a proverbial hall of mirrors at The Star reflects much deeper though. Ultimately, it's the players that decide games on Sundays, and the Cowboys didn't have enough of their blue chip ones on the field together for 2017. Whether or not this changes in 2018, the Cowboys can do little to shake the truth that conditions must be perfect for Garrett to captain this team to success.
If having a future Hall of Fame tight end like Jason Witten around wasn't enough for Garrett, going all in on this team in their first year without not only Witten but Dez Bryant feels foolish.
This underdog status and youthful nature may very well bring the Cowboys back to their 2016 form. I've already mentioned mirrors however, and how about the smoke? Garrett's best year out of eight full seasons, that 13-3 campaign was surely not all 'smoke and mirrors', but it is now far enough in the past to expect improvement from the Cowboys head coach.
Garrett must overcome massive changes on the offense he once coordinated to see third-year Quarterback Dak Prescott put this team back in the playoff picture, or the Cowboys will only continue to change face even more dramatically for 2019.
Long gone are the innocent days of Garrett playing catch under the California sun with a rookie Prescott, who had no idea the impact he'd make on the entirety of this franchise so quickly. Now, the Cowboys may have to quickly separate this duo if looking to preserve a window of contention under Dak's rookie contract.
It truly will be fascinating to see the new points of emphasis this revamped Cowboys coaching staff brings to the team not only on the field in Oxnard but through their team meetings and into the regular season. As Garrett allows the likes of Richard and Lal to oversee important changes at CB/S and WR respectively, his overarching message of character, competition, and respect will still echo throughout the team.
Whether or not the slew of new players Garrett has to coach can inspire him to implement this message effectively, or if his days are numbered given the slack the Cowboys have already provided, is the most important story line for the Cowboys in 2018.
By most team's standards, a 9-7 season given the circumstances around the Cowboys a year ago is acceptable -- which it ultimately was for Dallas as they kept Garrett, Scott Linehan, and Rod Marinelli.
This team's shortcomings through a disappointing season was enough for the Cowboys to begin reevaluating the coaches below this trio though, leaving only their ninth year head coach to fall victim to the level of turnover NFL teams are experiencing on the fly right now.
The Cowboys roster has received this message loud and clear. Will Garrett's carry the same impetus, and will it truly matter for the 2018 season?
Is WR Cedrick Wilson the Player With Most to Gain in Training Camp?
Within the Dallas Cowboys' uncertain wide receiver core, is sixth-round pick Cedrick Wilson. Considered a draft steal by many, Wilson's name is often lost in the mix among Allen Hurns, Cole Beasley and third round rookie Michael Gallup. Just days away from the start of the 2018 training camp, Cedrick Wilson might be the player with the most to gain on the team.
Wilson comes from the Boise State Broncos, where he set the school record for receiving yards in a season with 1,511 last year. As a sixth-round rookie, the young 22-year old receiver has an uphill battle ahead of him to earn a spot on the Cowboys' 53-man roster.
It shouldn't come as a surprise if he emerges victorious in this battle, though.
You see, the lack of a #1 receiver has been one of the main story lines for the Cowboys and for good reason. Heading into the preseason, there is no clear-cut "#1." But even though there isn't a big name such as Dez Bryant, I'm sure we'll feel way better about the wide receivers once the season starts and the offense manages to sustain a good passing attack led by Dak Prescott.
Allen Hurns and Michael Gallup seem like the two front-runners for being the "X" receivers on offense, the position in which Wilson lined up at Boise State during his last year in college football. It's tough to imagine a sixth round rookie being the starting "X" receiver in his rookie season, but that doesn't mean he can't earn an important role at some point of the year.
In 2017, the offense struggled due to the receivers failing to create separation downfield. Wilson, although a raw route-runner, was a very dangerous vertical threat in Boise State and could be just that for the Cowboys down the road.
He needs to improve as a player, but with Sanjay Lal focusing hard at route-running with his receivers, Cedrick could become an important target for Dak earlier than expected.
In order to do so, the young wide receiver will have to find success in training camp. Wide receiver will undoubtedly be one of the most intriguing position battles on the team, with many young yet unproven talent.
There's too many receivers that will be fighting for a roster spot over the following weeks, so Cowboys Nation is bound to be disappointed with so many so-called "pet cats." One or two of these guys will be released and I bet it'll hurt, just as it happens every year.
In all seriousness, though, with his ability to stretch the field and be a vertical threat plus his experience as an "X" receiver, Cedrick Wilson might not only make the roster, but become a significant piece for this new-look offense in Dallas during his rookie season.
Will DeMarcus Lawrence Be Franchise Tagged Again in 2019?
The deadline for extending players under the franchise tag has come and gone last Monday, in a day in which none of the remaining tagged players reached an agreement with their respective teams. That includes Dallas Cowboy Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence, who's set to earn $17M in 2018.
The front office and the 26-year old defensive end failed to agree to a new contract before the season's start, but we saw that coming. After all, there was never a point in which we had the classic "X player and his team are close to a new deal" headline.
All of this makes the future of the Cowboys' promising "War Daddy" very uncertain. What lies a head of the player that put on an impressive show in 2018?
Since 2017 was Lawrence's breakout year, racking up 14.5 sacks trough the season, we have leaned towards the narrative of last season being his only good one. His performance last season was impressive and clearly his best one yet, but we tend to overlook 2015.
In his sophomore season, the only other year in which he has played 16 games, he finished the campaign with eight sacks and 35 tackles (55 combined). Really, the idea of 2017 being his only good year is not as accurate as we might think.
That being said, I think it's more likely that we see another great year from him this upcoming season than seeing a disappointing one. This, of course, will end up being the main thing that determines his future in Dallas.
The Dallas Cowboys front office really took a risk by tagging Lawrence this offseason. #90 was reportedly asking for an average of $17M per year in his long-term contract, which is Olivier Vernon kind of money.
So what if he puts a similar season or an even better one? Lawrence and his agent could end up asking for even more money. Perhaps in the 18 or 20 million dollars per year range. If that ends up being the case, the team will find itself in a tough position when trying to reach an agreement with its promising pass rusher.
Which leads us to the possibility of seeing the Cowboys franchise tagging Lawrence for the second consecutive season. Dallas will already be negotiating a contract extension with QB Dak Prescott, and things will get complicated. Even more if they decide to pursue a big-time free agent in March, such as Earl Thomas.
It would make sense, from a financial perspective, to hand the tag twice in consecutive years to D-Law. However, it shouldn't be the priority. If he plays like he did in 2017, the front office will be more than wise to extend him for good.
According to OverTheCap.com, the Cowboys will have approximately $50.6M. Seemingly, the team's cap woes will be over soon.
Fortunately, Lawrence didn't become a headache by threatening to holdout for offseason programs and even training camp. However, don't expect that to happen if he finds himself under the tag next year.
Careers in the NFL are short, so DeMarcus will surely want to get paid. If he keeps it up, he'll deserve it. As much as he deserves it, though, football is a cold business. If the Jones need to tag him, they will.
Do you think the Cowboys will franchise tag Lawrence in 2019?
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