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!
Could Loaded FA Safety Market Drive Down Earl Thomas’ Value?
It's no secret the Dallas Cowboys and Earl Thomas share a mutual interest in one another. Thomas has publicly stated his desire to join America's Team and the Cowboys did their darndest to make that happen last offseason. Nothing ever materialized a year ago, but it's looking as if the stars have finally aligned and a union between the two could merely be just weeks away.
Surprisingly enough, the Dallas Cowboys may have dodged a bullet last year when the Seattle Seahawks refused to part ways with their All-Pro safety. Not only would they have had to surrender a high draft pick, but they would've also had to extend Thomas' contract. Fortunately, timing is everything and now the Cowboys might just have to do the latter.
A potential contract between the Cowboys and Thomas is of course what I want to dive in today. I'm not going to get into numbers right now, because it's nearly impossible to project any kind of contract for any safety this offseason, especially for the former Seahawk, Earl Thomas.
Right now, it's a little difficult to know who might have the advantage in contract negotiations, Earl Thomas or the Dallas Cowboys. A lot of times the one that has the leverage, however slight, is the one that gets the better of the deal. As surprising as it may be, the Cowboys might just have the advantage here and I'll tell you why.
First off, this year's market for free agent safeties is pretty stacked with starting caliber players. See below:
- Earl Thomas
- Landon Collins
- Lamarcus Joyner
- Tyrann Mathieu
- Adrian Amos
- Clayton Geathers
- Ha-Ha Clinton Dix
- Glover Quinn
- Tre Boston
- Kenny Vaccaro
- George Iloka
- Jimmie Ward
- Adrian Phillips
Earl Thomas is obviously the headliner here amongst the free agent safeties, but having so many starting caliber players available could drive down Thomas' market value just a bit. This is especially true when you take into consideration the market for FA safeties just a year ago. It was almost a complete standstill last year, with only Kurt Coleman signing a three-year $16.5 million deal with the New Orleans Saints. Not even the "Honey Badger" Tyrann Mathieu could get more than a one-year deal.
With all of these safeties available in free agency, we could be looking at another stingy market. This of course could be good or bad news for the Dallas Cowboys, especially as it pertains to Earl Thomas. Since he is the top FA safety available, everything could once again be at a standstill until he is signed.
Of course, we all know this will ultimately come down to determining Earl Thomas' market value. There is no denying he is still arguably the best free safety in the game today, but there are concerns about his age (30) and the two lower leg injuries he's sustained in the past three years.
Even with the loaded free agent market of starting caliber safeties and Thomas' age and recent injury history, he's still likely to receive a contract that earns him $10 million annually, give or take. It wouldn't surprise me at all if he gets another four-year deal worth $40 million, $25.7 million guaranteed, with a $9.5 million signing bonus like he signed with the Seahawks back in 2014.
The Cowboys of course would probably find a four-year $40 million deal for Earl Thomas acceptable. They would more than likely frontload the contract with a lot of protection in the details. They have the cap space to make this happen and still be able to sign their own, so money shouldn't be a problem.
Now, whether or not Thomas' market value may dip a little due to all of the above mentioned reasons will be something we will have to wait and find out. Regardless, I'd be a little shocked if Earl Thomas doesn't finish his career with the Dallas Cowboys.
Do you think Earl Thomas' market value will take a little hit this offseason?
Acquiring Brown Will Give Dallas Twin Turbo Terrors
What a difference a receiver makes, right? As Dallas fans, we know the impact of a player who can shake coverage, get open, and catch the ball. How was the season going before the Cowboys pulled the trigger for Amari Cooper in the deal with the Raiders? Cooper proved to be the lightning rod and a turning point in a season that was growing increasingly dismal. Dak Prescott and Cooper went together like peanut butter and jelly, while the Cowboys stormed to a division title and a postseason berth.
Now, imagine all of that times two… maybe even two and a half if Antonio Brown could be had from the Steelers. Scary right? We understand there’s only one ball to go around but that didn’t stop Kevin Durant from joining the Warriors, did it?
As of this writing, the best online sportsbooks like Intertops, are dealing Dallas as the seventh of 16 choices to win the NFC championship at odds of 12-1. Imagine how those odds would shrink if Brown wore a Cowboys uniform next season, giving Prescott the luxury of not one upper echelon wideout but that plus an elite receiver. Hut, hut, hut and a few clouds of smoke later the Cowboys would be moving the chains or celebrating in the endzone.
Brown and Cooper would be a devastating combination with Ezekiel Elliott coming out of the backfield. Brown was made for Dallas, it gives him an even grander stage than the one he shared with Ben Roethlisberger and Le’Veon Bell in Pittsburgh.
Despite the fact that the 'Boys haven’t won a Super Bowl since Barry Switzer was roaming the sidelines in the mid-90s, America’s Team still resides in Dallas. But we need a game-changer and Brown is just such an athlete. But what do we give in return and will that cost be worth whatever productive years Brown has left after this one? Let’s not forget that the mercurial Miami native will be 31 when the season begins and men who make a living with their legs don’t get better at that age. But Brown is so good and so unique that, even if he drops half a click, he's still amongst the best in the game.
That level of talent is hard to replicate and it could be the missing piece which allows Dallas to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender next season and the year after.
However, up to this point, we’ve been very good at dreaming of a Brown to Dallas trade but haven’t quite worked out the details. It takes two to tango and if we expect to get the Steelers’ attention we need to give them something valuable in return. Dallas surrendered their first-round pick (27th) this season when they traded for Cooper so that’s no longer an asset.
Pittsburgh would be vying for a first-round pick (and likely more) for Brown's services but some have speculated Dallas would consider dealing rookie-standout Leighton Vander Esch.
Wait... what? We know, you’re clutching your pearls, and the words are stuck in your gasp. We get it. The kid was a home run this past season, leading the Dallas defense in tackles and earning a Pro Bowl invitation in his inaugural NFL season. But this would be a Faustian deal.
The Cowboys give up a player who is poised to be a stud for years to come for a playmaker in Brown that could render a Super Bowl in the immediate future. Brown's expiration date will surely turn his milk sour sooner rather than later, but in the here and now, Antonio Brown could be the bell cow who leads the Cowboys to the promised land before he’s put out to pasture.
Just something to think about...
2018 In Review: CB Anthony Brown Bounces Back
To say it's been an up-and-down start to the career of young cornerback Anthony Brown would be an understatement.
As a sixth round pick in 2016, everything Brown contributed during his rookie season was a plus. Due to injury he was asked to step into a greater role as the season went on, and he performed well enough to make the front office comfortable allowing multiple veterans to walk for nothing in free agency the following Spring. Brown looked like a legitimate starting cornerback in the league, and when Dallas brought in Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis during the next draft, the young secondary seemed set.
Then 2017 happened. And Anthony Brown struggled. Really struggled.
These struggles, coupled with the emergence of both Lewis and Awuzie during their own rookie seasons, made Brown's status heading into 2018 rather uncertain. Some wondered if they would trade him for a day three pick, others thought Brown could even end up being cut. Jourdan Lewis and Anthony Brown were slated to compete for the nickel cornerback job in training camp, and as it turned out, all Brown needed was that one extra chance to compete.
Brown won the job outright during the preseason, and began 2018 as the starting nickel. A fan favorite, most thought Lewis would reclaim his rightful spot on the depth chart sooner or later, but Anthony Brown's play (and Kris Richard's preferences) kept Lewis on the bench for much of the season.
Simply put, Anthony Brown balled in 2018, and was the Cowboys' second best corner for most of the year. By the end of the season Chidobe Awuzie had regained form, but Brown and Byron Jones were the most consistently reliable corners on the roster all of 2018.
Brown tallied 44 tackles, 2 sacks, and an interception in 2018, and finished third on the team in pass breakups with 8. As the slot corner Brown had an excellent season, especially for a former sixth round pick.
Now he enters a contract year, and with the Cowboys having so many guys to pay over the next two offseasons, he could find himself as an unrestricted free agent in 2020. And if he can keep up his play from last year moving forward, he could be in for a nice payday that Spring.
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