Gather around for a story, everybody. Grab some snacks, preferably Teddy Grahams. Sour patch kids will work.
I went to a Dallas Cowboys game in 2007 and prior to saw some players arriving at the team hotel. Starting safety Ken Hamlin arrived to the hotel and people called him over to sign some autographs. A wide-eyed 17 year old in the crowd chimed up, “Hey Kenny!” Before this youngster knew, everyone was calling Kenny over. He started a trend!
Hamlin looked up from afar and with piercing eyes said, “My name’s not Kenny. Who’s calling me that?”
If this had happened at the NFL Combine I would have broken Chris Johnson’s 4.24-second 40-yard dash (set in 2008). The originator of Kenny was I, and I was nowhere to be found.
Ken Hamlin is one of the more accomplished Dallas Cowboys to ever slip #26 over his shoulders. As we continue our Countdown To Kickoff series with 26 days until the regular season, we’re going to find out exactly who the Greatest 26 in Dallas Cowboys History is.
If you’re reading this Ken, I’m sorry. Hopefully we’re still bros.
The Following Players Have All Worn 26 For The Dallas Cowboys:
Ken Hamlin had one of the more impressive seasons that anyone on this list has ever had in 2007. During his first year with a Star on his hat he recorded 5 interceptions and 45 tackles on his way to a Pro Bowl nod. It’s difficult for anyone to maintain that level of production over a long period of time, so unfortunately Ken falls just short today.
Preston Pearson Comes Up Close
Before we get to the Greatest 26, one guy deserves an honorable mention. Preston Pearson helped revitalize the Dallas Cowboys run game in 1975. He and the “Dirty Dozen” draft class from that year were a big reason why the Cowboys made it all the way to Super Bowl X.
What’s incredible about Preston Pearson’s presence in Super Bowl X is that – aside from Ralph Neely’s post-draft day trade to the Cowboys and the whole Houston Oilers fiasco – Preston Pearson was the only starter on the Dallas Cowboys Super Bowl X squad, and one of two on the entire roster with Clint Longley, that was not drafted by the Cowboys. That’s insane!
Get Down With Number 26
1981 gave way to a new dynasty in the NFL when “The Catch” happened and the San Francisco 49ers made their mark on NFL History. The Greatest 26 in Dallas Cowboys History could not let Bill Walsh and Co. have all the glory though!
After a productive career at Rice University, the Dallas Cowboys signed undrafted free agent safety Michael Downs in 1981. Downs captivated the attention of everybody out at training camp.
When Randy Hughes suffered an injury to his shoulder in the preseason the confidence was high in Michael and he became just the third rookie in Dallas Cowboys Franchise History to begin the season in the starting role.
Downs delivered on his hype and during his first career game, a contest against the Washington Redskins at the legendary RFK Stadium – he picked off Joe Theismann.
Michael Downs actually intercepted 7 passes during his rookie year, a performance he would repeat during the 1984 season, as he marched his way to the All-Rookie team.
The 7 interceptions in 1984 would be a part of the greatest season that Downs ever put together in the Cowboy 26. Among his picks he put together 93 tackles and was deemed a member of both the All-Pro and All-NFC teams. He accomplished all of this while serving as a captain of a Cowboy team that finished 9-7 and missed the playoffs.
#26: Michael Downs
The 34 career interceptions by Michael Downs ties him with the Greatest 34 in Dallas Cowboys History, Cornell Green, for the fifth most in Dallas Cowboys Franchise History.
Downs helped the Dallas Cowboys remain at a competitive level in the 1980s when the franchise tapered off a bit from the decade before.
He accomplished an incredible amount, especially for an undrafted player, throughout a decade littered with neon and the San Francisco 49ers dynasty.
Michael Downs was a team captain, is tied for fifth in franchise history in interceptions, and among many other things he is the Greatest 26 in Dallas Cowboys History.
Check back tomorrow to find out who the Greatest 25 in Dallas Cowboys History is!
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?
Without Looming Suspension, RB Ezekiel Elliott Should Shine In 2018
NFL Films typically does a good job of exposing some truths around NFL teams. Whether through "Hard Knocks" or Amazon's new "All or Nothing" series, these documentaries do an excellent job of giving fans an inside look of their favorite teams.
If anything was revealed through the Cowboys' All or Nothing series on their 2017 season, it's that Ezekiel Elliott's suspension weighed heavy on his mind all year.
The Pro Bowl running back did not look, act, or play like himself while awaiting decision on his incoming suspension. And, once it was finally announced he would serve the six games, the entire team collapsed in Atlanta.
Despite the clear and detrimental effects Elliott's suspension had on the Cowboys' season, Zeke still put up more-than-respectable numbers; rushing for almost 1,000 yards and averaging a league leading 98.3 yards per game.
Now, Ezekiel Elliott enters a season with no doubts about his own availability. Scott Linehan gets to coach an offense that knows they will have their best player for the entire season barring major injury. And, Jason Garrett can lead his team without addressing questions about Elliott's future day in and day out.
Of course, these effects aren't quantifiable. We can't sit here and say that without the pressure of court appearances and suspensions that Elliott will be worth "X" amount of more yards and "Y" more touchdowns.
But I do believe we can say, without question, that playing with a clear mind and without a looming suspension will breed the type of production we saw from Zeke his rookie year.
We can say that Elliott has had a weight lifted off his shoulders, and could be looking for revenge on a league he feels did him wrong.
And, for the Cowboys sake, I hope this is true. Because they are going to need Ezekiel Elliott to be even better than he ever has been if they hope to make a run at the Super Bowl in 2018.
Cowboys en Español: El Regreso de Randy Gregory
A sólo días de que los Dallas Cowboys aterricen en Oxnard, California para dar inicio a su training camp como todos los años, el equipo recibió excelentes noticias respecto a la selección de segunda ronda del 2015: Randy Gregory. Después de pasar todo el 2017 suspendido, el ala defensiva ha sido oficialmente reintegrado por la NFL.
Gregory, quien tuvo muchos problemas debido al uso de marihuana, ha pasado los últimos meses rehabilitándose para poder volver a vestir la estrella y volver al emparrillado. Los Cowboys, quienes siempre apoyaron a su joven jugador, sin duda estarán felices de verlo de vuelta en el equipo por motivos más allá que el football americano.
Sin duda alguna, antes de estar emocionados y felices por verlo en el campo intimidando a quarterbacks rivales, deberíamos estar alegres por el logro personal de Randy como un ser humano. Realmente hizo un esfuerzo consciente en un lugar en el que muchos se hubieran rendido y dejado sus sueños de ser parte de la NFL. Pero no lo hizo, y ahora, todos sus esfuerzos han valido la pena.
El siguiente paso en su lista por-hacer, es volver al campo y poco a poco, ganarse su puesto en el equipo y después, la titularidad. La última vez que vimos a Gregory en el campo, fue contra Philadelphia, en el final de temporada del 2016.
En este juego, Gregory mostró muchos destellos de lo que sería capaz de hacer semana tras semana en la liga y porque valió la pena nunca dejarlo ir, lo cual no hubiera tenido sentido hacer, dado que los Cowboys no les costaba nada (literalmente) mantenerlo en el equipo.
Sean Martin escribió un artículo recientemente en el que analiza este partido a fondo.
El potencial de Gregory es inmenso, suficiente incluso, para aventurarse a decir que se convertirá en el defensive end (ala defensiva) derecho antes de lo esperado. El reto más grande para el jugador de 25 años será regresar a una condición física óptima para la NFL.
Afortunadamente, a diferencia del 2016, Gregory no estará regresando a media temporada. Su llegada toma lugar justo a tiempo para el training camp, dándole tiempo para regresar a la forma en la que tiene que estar.
Una vez ahí, ¿qué tanto le tomará ganarse un rol más importante que el de Tyrone Crawford y Taco Charlton? A pesar de que prácticamente no lo hemos visto jugar en Dallas, sabemos el potencial que tiene para convertirse en un defensivo de suma importancia para los Cowboys.
Un año después de ver la mejor temporada en la carrera de DeMarcus Lawrence, los Cowboys tendrán el potencial de una estrella similar en el lado derecho de su línea defensiva. Gregory tiene una montaña que escalar para cumplir las expectativas de los aficionados, pero no será una sorpresa si lo logra.
Vaya, no olvidemos que si no fuera por sus problemas fuera del campo, hubiera sido seleccionado en el Top 10 del Draft del 2015. Tiene el potencial de conseguir diez sacks por temporada.
Con un poco de suerte, no nos equivocaremos en tenerle fe al jugador que ha tenido un gran viaje para llegar a este punto. El punto de ponerse el casco e ir a trabajar con su equipo.
Incluso si sólo llega a ser un jugador de rotación, sin duda será importante para el éxito del equipo. Entre DeMarcus Lawrence, David Irving, Randy Gregory y el resto del talento que los Cowboys tienen en la línea defensiva, el equipo podría tener un frente de muy buena calidad.
Star Blog2 weeks ago
4 Decisions That Could Shape Cowboys 2018 Season
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
Ex-Giants Coach Ben McAdoo Talks Trash About Cowboys
Star Blog1 week ago
Would Trading La’el Collins for Earl Thomas Make Sense?
Dallas Cowboys3 days ago
Noah Brown Takes to Twitter to Call Out ESPN
Star Blog7 days ago
True or False: Sifting Through the Cowboys Trade Rumors
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
Kris Richard Allows Cowboys to be Patient on Earl Thomas
Dallas Cowboys4 days ago
What’s Left for Cowboys to Offer in Deal for Earl Thomas?
Star Blog2 weeks ago
Who Replaces Dez Bryant as Cowboys Red Zone Threat?