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!