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Cowboys CTK: Dandy Don Turns Out The Lights On #17

RJ Ochoa



Cowboys Blog - Cowboys CTK: Dandy Don Turns Out The Lights On #17 4

Thursday is one of the better looking days of the week. We’re past the midpoint, tomorrow is Friday, and I have my weekly kickball game tonight so I know exactly the pressure that those LLWS kids are going through.

One thing those kids like to do on social media is a dealio called “Throwback Thursday” where they pay homage to something that happened last year, last month, last week, or two minutes ago with a picture.

Welcome to the Throwback Thursday edition of our Countdown To Kickoff series here at Inside The Star. Today we are throwing it back with the Greatest 17 in Dallas Cowboys History – a player who did his fair share of throwing forward.


The Following Players Have All Worn 17 For The Dallas Cowboys:

  • Harold Carmichael, WR
  • Quincy Carter, QB
  • Mike Clark, K
  • James Cleveland, WR
  • Jason Garrett*, QB
  • Nick Harwell*, WR
  • Dwayne Harris, WR
  • Sam Hurd, WR
  • Don Meredith, QB

*Active player on the Dallas Cowboys Roster/Staff

The current head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, Jason Garrett, wore the number 17 proudly for a few years in the 1990s. While Coach Garrett is an all-around star, today belongs to someone else.

The admittance of the Dallas Cowboys into the National Football League happened a little too late to allow them to participate in the 1960 NFL Draft. Imagine that, becoming an NFL team but not being allowed to participate in the annual drafting of players… how hard would that be?!

Clint Murchison, owner of the Cowboys, had his eye on a former SMU quarterback who he thought could put the right touch on his brand new team. When Murchison signed this fella he didn’t technically have his team yet.

“The contract read, ‘If we get a National Football League franchise, we’d like for you to play quarterback,'" spoken in the words of the Greatest 17 in Dallas Cowboys History… the legendary Don Meredith.

The Original Cowboy

Cowboys Blog - Cowboys CTK: Dandy Don Turns Out The Lights On #17

On November 28th, 1959 Don Meredith signed a personal services contract for the would-be Dallas Cowboys. If they happened, he happened.

As fate would have it the Dallas Cowboys officially joined the NFL for competitive play in the 1960 season. Fate also allowed for Eddie Lebaron to get the starting nod at the most important position on the team, making Don the backup for two years.

After splitting time in 1962, Don Meredith became the starting quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys in 1963… and put them on the ride of their lives.

Meredith Makes The Cowboys

Don Meredith helped the upstart Cowboys improve year after year starting in 1963. 4 wins in 1963 turned into 5 the next year, and 7 followed in 1965. When the 1966 season hit they were ready to compete at a high level.

Cowboys Blog - Cowboys CTK: Dandy Don Turns Out The Lights On #17 1

The Cowboys rode the arm of Pro Bowler Meredith in 1966 as he passed for 24 touchdowns and a career-high 2,805 yards. They made their way to the NFL Championship Game… the winner of which would advance to the firs ever “Super Bowl.”

Don fought valiantly against Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers, throwing for 238 yards and a score, but the Cowboys lost on New Year’s Day, determined to bounce back in 1967.

Fast forward one year and you’d find the Cowboys and Packers squaring off in the NFL Championship Game yet again… at the literally frozen tundra of Lambeau Field. The famed “Ice Bowl” saw Meredith and his Cowboys lose yet again, but established Dallas as one of the elite teams in the NFL.

Dandy Don

Cowboys Blog - Cowboys CTK: Dandy Don Turns Out The Lights On #17 2

If there were ever a hometown hero, it was Don Meredith. He hailed from Mount Vernon High School in Mount Vernon, Texas and played collegiately at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

As a result of his Texas roots, Cowboy fans universally adored Dandy Don. He had an incredible charm about him and was such an outgoing person that people gravitated towards his energy. This energy was apparent on the football field as well; Meredith had a level of grit and toughness that was rarely seen during those days, earning him 3 Pro Bowl nods from 1966-1968.

Don Meredith was the life of the party whether on the field, with the fans, or as it would be later… in the broadcast booth.

Turn Out The Lights

Cowboys Blog - Cowboys CTK: Dandy Don Turns Out The Lights On #17 3

The NFL-AFL merger became official in 1970 and so did Don Meredith’s spot in the broadcast booth for ABC’s Monday Night Football. He worked with Howard Cosell and Frank Gifford, applying his lighthearted touch to the call which made for legendary broadcasts for fans everywhere.

When a game seemed to be put away Don Meredith would add the cherry on top of another great call with his rendition of a classic Willie Nelson tune.

“Turn out the lights, the party’s over…”

If you watched Monday Night Football in those days then you know that it wasn’t complete until Don Meredith serenaded us in his usual charismatic fashion.

I was at the last game ever at Texas Stadium. They literally turned out the lights, played Meredith’s rendition, and it was one of the most spectacular things that I’ve ever been a part of.

#17: Don Meredith

The Original Cowboy helped the team survive the 1960s and reach a level of respect throughout the National Football League. Don Meredith was one of the more charming football players of his era, leaving his mark on both the game and in the booth. A member of the Ring of Honor (enshrined in 1976), Don Meredith is one of the most revered Dallas Cowboys of all-time.

It is without question, without a single doubt in my mind, and with a twang in my voice that I propose a toast to the Greatest 17 in Dallas Cowboys History - Don Meredith.

Cheers to you, Don. We’ll turn out the lights when the party’s over.

Check back tomorrow to find out who the Greatest 16 in Dallas Cowboys History is!

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

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys CTK: Dandy Don Turns Out The Lights On #17" in the comments below. You can also email me at, 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!

Star Blog

Sean’s Scout: Linebacker Joe Thomas Brings Speed, Range to Cowboys D

Sean Martin



Sean's Scout: Linebacker Joe Thomas Brings Speed, Range to Dallas Cowboys Defense 1

It took some time, but the Dallas Cowboys have their first outside free agent of the offseason, signing Linebacker Joe Thomas to provide depth at a position where Anthony Hitchens and Kyle Wilber have already signed elsewhere.

The fifth-year pro has played exclusively with the Green Bay Packers, but the Cowboys do have some familiarity with Thomas as he spent part of 2015 on their practice squad.

Joe Thomas has served as a core special teams contributor and sub-package LB for the Packers out of South Carolina State, and will now look to bring these services to a Cowboys team in need of play making ability on both defense and special teams.

Using film from this past season, here is Joe Thomas' full scouting report.

LB Joe Thomas: Strengths

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Joe Thomas lined up at all three LB positions for the Packers, taking the majority of his snaps on defense at MIKE or WILL. The WILL position is where Thomas should fit best in Dallas.

Not overly physical with a shorter but square frame, Thomas is a rangy player with light feet and fluid movement ability. Shifting laterally along the line of scrimmage to "pick through trash" is not a problem for Thomas, nor is flipping his hips and running to the football.

It may take Thomas more effort than it should to get in position on most plays, with false steps and late reads being an issue, but once he establishes his sight on the point of attack this is a downhill missile of a player.

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Joe Thomas uses his length well to disengage from blocks and finish off plays, doing a nice job of not allowing blockers into his chest consistently.

With Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith expected to be the Cowboys' primary starters at WILL and MIKE respectively, Thomas could supplement these two physical, well-rounded players extremely well given his athleticism.

LB Joe Thomas: Weaknesses

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There is a reason a player with the raw traits of Joe Thomas goes un-drafted, and in this case it is because of awareness and anticipation issues in Thomas' game.

Far too often on tape, Thomas is forcing himself to recover from false steps against the blockers in front of him. I would have loved to see a player with this movement ability get more clean opportunities to finish at the football, but it was simply not there for Thomas.

When Thomas wasn't late to the ball against the run, he was getting caught flat-footed in space trying to compensate for this reactionary ability. This led to Thomas' fair share of missed tackles, where the LB failed to break down correctly.

Overall, Thomas did a decent job of avoiding blocks and disengaging, and does play with better-than-expected stopping power. The strength and technique to shed blocks was rarely seen though, relying on his quickness to outrun opponents to the spot.

LB Joe Thomas: Summary

Sean's Scout: Linebacker Joe Thomas Brings Speed, Range to Dallas Cowboys Defense

This is a player that should help the Dallas Cowboys in two phases of their game this season.

Signed for both 2018 and 2019, the Cowboys have clearly seen enough from their former practice squad linebacker in Green Bay to bring back an athletic ST ace with upside on defense.

Joe Thomas shouldn't be taking Lee or Smith off the field regularly this season, but at his best he will factor into Rod Marinelli's defense on passing downs.

Thomas gives a unit predicated on flowing to the ball even more speed on the field, and is an ideal depth signing with the versatility to cover punts and kickoffs.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: Linebacker Joe Thomas Brings Speed, Range to Cowboys D" in the comments below. You can also email me at, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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Star Blog

Could a Special Coach Help Dez Bryant’s Route-Running?

Brian Martin



Could Special Coach Help Dez Bryant's Route Running?

Dez Bryant's career with the Dallas Cowboys may be in limbo, but that's not stopping him from trying to improve his game and on-field performance.

Bryant will reportedly train with personal wide receivers coach David Robinson, who specializes in route-running, according to reporter Jane Slater of NFL Network. This should come as good news to a lot of Cowboys fans, because Dez Bryant has often been criticized throughout his professional career for his route-running.

If anything, this news should indicate that Dez Bryant is more determined than ever to rebound from his disappointing 2017 season and prove his critics wrong that he is no longer one of the top receivers in the league. I for one am not going to bet against him.

Bryant's work ethic and passion for the game have never been questioned. His desire to be the best is evident anytime you turn on his film, whether it is in a game situation or on the practice field. He takes the "practice like you play" mantra to heart.

Everybody should be encouraged that at this point in his career, Dez Bryant is still looking at ways to improve his game and seek help. Hopefully, working with a well-known receivers coach like David Robinson can take Bryant's game to the next level.

Dez Bryant

Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant (AP Photo/Matt Strasen)

You may not know who David Robinson is (I certainly didn't), but he is well respected around the league and has helped other receivers under his tutelage. Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, Jordan Reed, and even Cowboys former WR Brice Butler have all benefited from Robinson's coaching.

Dez Bryant has always been regarded as one of those types of receivers who is always open regardless how tight the coverage is around him. His ability to go up and snag the ball out of the air is arguably his best trait, but he could become more dangerous if he can create separation on his own with better route-running.

Unfortunately, Bryant is entering the stage in his career where age becomes a factor and some regression is to be expected. This is why improved route-running could improve any deficiencies Bryant maybe dealing with.

But, what exactly will David Robinson be working on with Dez Bryant?

Robinson told Jane Slater that in his workouts with Dez Bryant, he will concentrate on the expansion of Bryant's route tree, shaking defenders at the line of scrimmage, and improving footwork technique to compensate for any natural loss of speed due to age.

I don't know about you, but I'm actually looking forward to seeing how Bryant responds to Robinson's coaching, hopefully still as a member of the Dallas Cowboys.

We all know that Bryant's status with the Cowboys is unknown, at least to those of us on the outside looking in, but I don't see him going anywhere in 2018. There just aren't any vet WRs or rookies who I can see replacing his production. Of course, I could be wrong.

One thing is for sure though, Dez Bryant isn't going to sit on his hands while he waits to find out what his future holds.

Do you think improved route-running will help Dez Bryant's game?

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Star Blog

Should Cowboys Reunite Shea McClellin With Rod Marinelli?

Brian Martin



Should Cowboys Reunite Shea McClellin With Rod Marinelli?

Since becoming the defensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys, Rod Marinelli hasn't had too many of his former players follow him to Dallas. In fact, I can only think of one… Henry Melton, and we all know how that turned out.

I don't know about you, but I found that a little strange. It's pretty common for coaches to try to bring some of their players with them when they accept a new job. Familiarity goes a long way in the NFL and former players can also help make the transition easier for everyone.

Strangely enough, Rod Marinelli hasn't really been afforded that luxury, whether it was his doing or not. But, there is a free agent who played under Marinelli's tutelage in Chicago who might make sense for the Dallas Cowboys, linebacker Shea McClellin.

Rod Marinelli was the defensive coordinator in Chicago when the Bears decided to draft Shea McClellin 19th overall in the 2012 NFL Draft. Marinelli likely had a big say in that decision, and if he still feels the same, a reunion could be in order.

Shea McClellin started his career in the NFL as a 4-3 left side defensive end playing opposite Julius Peppers, but was also viewed as a potential Brian Urlacher replacement. He showed flashes of becoming a solid defensive end his first few years in the league, but was eventually moved to linebacker, where he seemed to find a home for himself.

Shea McClellin

New England Patriots LB Shea McClellin

After his contract expired with the Bears, the New England Patriots decided to bring him aboard to help with their linebacker depth. He only ended up starting four games for them in 2016, but made some memorable plays to help the Patriots become the Super Bowl champions.

Unfortunately, the 2017 season wasn't very kind to him. His entire year was wiped out due to a concussion, which probably had a lot to do with why they recently released him.

This of course could be good news for the Dallas Cowboys. They currently need some depth at the linebacker position and Shea McClellin could provide that, if he's healthy. The healthy bit here is key, because he has had problems with concussions in the past.

If McClellin is indeed healthy, he could bring a versatile skill set to the Cowboys defense. His best spot is probably at strong side LB (SAM), but I think he could play middle linebacker (MIKE) as well. He also could provide depth at defensive end, the position he played to start his NFL career.

With the LB depth a concern, Shea McClellin makes quite a bit of sense for the Dallas Cowboys. Of course, his past history with concussions is a red flag, but it also drives down his asking price. I think he would definitely fall into that "bargain shopping" mentality the Cowboys have been using these last few offseasons.

He probably wouldn't be viewed as a very important signing, but you still need these types of players on your team in order to succeed in the NFL. Let's see if the Dallas Cowboys agree.

Do you think a Rod Marinelli and Shea McClellin reunion is in order?

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