When I was in elementary school there used to be a gum ball machine that yielded little helmets for all of the NFL teams. Every day I would beg my parents for a quarter so I could get a new one as I tried to collect them all. Of course while I ultimately wanted every team there was one that I wanted above all… the Dallas Cowboys.
After about 7 Broncos, 5 Packers, and 3 49ers I got it – the big enchilada.
Throughout this Countdown To Kickoff series here at Inside The Star we have covered a lot of greatness. We’ve had Pro Bowlers, All Pros, Super Bowl Champions, and Hall of Famers. Some numbers have stuck out a little bit more than others. 94 has two legendary pass rushers and Club 88 is all about being a big-time wide receiver.
Today, 22 in our Countdown To Kickoff, is the big enchilada.
The number 22 is arguably the greatest number in Dallas Cowboys History as it boasts two Pro Football Hall of Famers that played two different positions. Join me as we recount two of the most beloved players in the history of the Dallas Cowboys.
The Following Players Have All Worn 22 For The Dallas Cowboys:
^Pro Football Hall of Famer
Legend Of #22: Bob Hayes
The NFL is filled with the finest athletes that the world has to offer. We’re talking about the most physically gifted individuals on the entire planet.
The biggest, the smartest, the strongest, and the fastest human beings all flock to the National Football League.
During the 7th round of the 1964 NFL Draft the actual fastest man on the face of the earth was drafted to play wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys. What a wide receiver he would become.
Florida A&M – Robert Lee Hayes
Jump in my DeLorean and let’s go back to the Florida A&M campus in 1962 so we can see what this Robert Lee Hayes kid was all about. Don’t worry about that hoverboard or sports almanac; we’ll need those later (can you tell I love Back To The Future?).
Bob, as he’s known around town, doesn’t even need a DeLorean because he can reach 88 miles per hour by foot. In 1962 Hayes tied the world record for the 100-yard dash, running it in 9.2 seconds. He’d actually go on to break the record the following year with a time of 9.1 seconds, a record that would stand for 11 years. Bob also blasted through 200 meters in 20.5 seconds and 220 yards in 20.6 seconds (while running into an eight mile per hour wind, mind you). The words you’re looking for are, “holy crap.”
Konnichiwa! Tokyo, Japan played host to the 1964 Olympic Games when Bob Hayes became an official, and literal, worldwide sprinting sensation.
Bob Hayes won the Gold Medal in the 100m with a time of 10.06 seconds (tying the then world record). That’s faster than the time it took me to type that sentence!
Hayes also served as a part of the United States Men’s 4x100m Relay Team. When you’ve got Bob Hayes on your team you don’t need much else, as France’s Jocelyn Delocour put it, and with Hayes the red, white, and blue took gold… giving Bob his second Gold Medal in the Games.
Bob left Tokyo with two Gold Medals around his neck and returned home an American Hero. Two months later he would become a part of America’s Team.
1964 NFL Draft
The 1964 NFL Draft is arguably the greatest one to have ever taken place. It yielded 11 Pro Football Hall of Famers, more than any other draft class in history… three of them being Dallas Cowboys: Mel Renfro (2nd round), Bob Hayes (7th round), and Roger Staubach (10th round).
Bob, and Roger Staubach, were selected with “futures picks” which allowed them to be drafted by NFL teams before they finished their college eligibility.
Many wondered whether the track star, and Olympic Gold Medal Winner, Bob Hayes could succeed in pro football or not. I mean, sure the guy was fast, but could he catch?
Hayes sprinted into the NFL with force. He led the league in touchdowns in both of his first two years, with 12 and 13 respectively, while covering 2,235 yards in the process.
Bullet Bob Hayes
Bob Hayes was so fast that he was thought to be able to outrun a bullet, and he proved it on the football field. Hayes was the ultimate deep threat on the gridiron as evidenced by his league leading yards-per-reception in both 1970 and 1971, 26.1 and 24.0. Nobody could keep up with him.
The bullet speed of Bob Hayes forced defensive coordinators to adapt and completely change their defensive schemes. Teams had to move to a “zone” defense because Bob was going to beat whoever lined up on him in single man coverage every single time and therefore demanded deep, double man coverage schemes.
The “bump and run” technique was implemented largely to stop Bob Hayes. Defensive backs had to disrupt his route right off of the line of scrimmage just to have a chance at slowing him down. It was never any use and Bob Hayes ran past them all.
#22: Bob Hayes
The 2009 Pro Football Hall of Fame Class featured the first man to win both an Olympic Gold Medal (1964) and a Super Bowl Ring (1971/Super Bowl VI). Bob Hayes posthumously joined the most elite fraternity in professional sports, his bust and memory being introduced by his quarterback, Roger Staubach.
Bob Hayes isn’t just one of the greatest Dallas Cowboys of all-time, he isn’t even just one of the greatest football players of all-time… Bob Hayes is one of the finest athletes to ever walk the face of the earth.
He was only the second Olympic Gold Medal Winner enshrined in the Hall of Fame, following Jim Thorpe… who serves as the inspiration for the Hall residing in Canton, Ohio.
The legend of Bob Hayes has rippled even into today’s NFL as the effect of his incredible speed serves as the foundation for so many NFL defenses. His career resume includes:
- 2-Time Olympic Gold Medalist (1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan)
- 365 Career Receptions
- 7,295 Career Receiving Yards (5th in Franchise History)
- 71 Career Receiving Touchdowns (1st in Franchise History)
- 20.0 Career Yards Per Reception Average (6th All-Time)
- 95 Yard Reception in 1966 (Longest Reception in Dallas Cowboys History)
- 3-Time Pro Bowl Selection (1965, 1966, 1967)
- 2-Time First-Team All-Pro Selection (1966, 1968)
- Super Bowl VI Champion
- Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor, Class of 2001
- Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 2009
Bob Hayes was one of the most magnificent wide receivers to ever play the game of football. He etched the number 22 into greatness, but another individual forever immortalized it.
Ladies and Gentlemen, please allow me to present, the NFL’s All-Time Leading Rusher…
Legend Of #22: Emmitt Smith
Despite 700 career attempts for 3,928 yards and 36 touchdowns… the University of Florida’s Emmitt Smith was thought to be “too small” for the professional game of football. This caused him to slip all the way to the 17th pick of the 1990 NFL Draft. Smith joined the Dallas Cowboys and was the final piece to what would become one of the most dominant teams in NFL History.
The new 22 joined quite the loaded team. He had an offensive line that was considered the best in the NFL, known as the Great Wall of Dallas, and he had a star quarterback named Troy Aikman who threw passes to the team’s number one receiver, Michael Irvin.
Other playmakers like Alvin Harper and Jay Novacek lined up on offense… but Smith, Aikman, and Irvin were a cut above the rest. “The Triplets” were about to dominate the game of football.
Smith put together 937 yards and 11 touchdowns in his first season, earning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. After that is when things really got interesting.
1991 was the year that the Dallas Cowboys finally started cooking with gas and Emmitt Smith, to quote Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade, took a FLAMETHROWER to it! Emmitt ran, ran, then ran some more, ran again, then kept running. Take a look at his stats from 1991-1995:
*Super Bowl Champions, NFL Leader
During this run Emmitt Smith became the first player in NFL History to rush for 1,400+ yards in five straight seasons, while leading the league in rushing in four of them.
This five-season window is also sandwiched between 1990 and 1996 when Smith had 11 and 12 touchdowns, respectively. That makes Emmitt one of three players to start their careers with seven straight ten-touchdown seasons; Jim Brown and LaDainian Tomlinson are the other two.
As you are probably well aware - the Dallas Cowboys won the Super Bowl in 1992, 1993, and 1995. This cemented them as a dynasty within the pages of Pro Football History, and the ink on the paper read Emmitt Smith.
In each of their Super Bowl seasons, the Dallas Cowboys were armed with the NFL’s rushing champion. Emmitt Smith and his Triplet Teammates made the Cowboys lethal from all aspects of the offense.
After winning their first title in 1992 the Cowboys, and Emmitt, wanted more in 1993. This became a historical year for Emmitt Smith as he became the first, and only, running back in NFL History to win in one season:
- NFL Rushing Title
- NFL MVP Award
- Super Bowl Championship
- Super Bowl MVP
Run, Emmitt, Run
After the Super Bowl victories Emmitt Smith was not done. He kept on running and uncovered yard after yard. He posted 1,000+ yard seasons all the way through 2001, which made him the first person not just to achieve 11 1,000+-yard seasons, but Emmitt achieved them consecutively!
Accolades like these obviously don’t happen to just any football player. It takes an enormous amount of grit, dedication, and durability to dominate such a physically violent game over such a long period of time.
Emmitt Smith was neither the fastest nor flashiest guy on the field, but he was the strongest. Smith had a will that absolutely could not be broken. Michael Irvin has long regarded that when Emmitt hit the field, he’d turn into Superman. It’s hard to dispute that as Emmitt was in fact a Man of Steel over the course of his entire career.
Once you reach the top of the mountain it’s hard to get back. We see every year how Super Bowl teams fall off because everyone is gunning for them. Even then, it’s human nature to get complacent once you’ve tasted the sweet nectar of victory. Not for Emmitt Smith.
Amidst all the awards, parades, and confetti showers... Emmitt Smith wanted more. There are many Super Bowl winners, there are plenty of NFL MVPs, but there is only one NFL All-Time Leading Rusher.
When Emmitt Smith entered the NFL the crown belonged to Walter Payton, and Emmitt knew it would take everything he had to win it. From the moment he had an NFL locker Emmitt Smith wrote down some goals that he wanted to achieve.
With such an illustrious career he had already accomplished a majority of them, now it was time to chase the big one.
After 11 straight 1,000+-yard seasons Emmitt Smith entered the 2002 season with the record in sight.
“Move Over, Sweetness! Make A Place For Emmitt!”
Through the first 7 games of the season, Emmitt chipped away. On October 27th, 2002 the Dallas Cowboys would play host to the Seattle Seahawks… and Emmitt Smith was 93 yards from Walter Payton.
I know that there are a lot of records in sports. I even know that a lot of them revolve around “iron man” type performances (Cal Ripken Jr. and Brett Favre come to mind). To conquer this record, and to unseat Walter Payton in doing so, took more will, drive, and durability than any of those in my opinion.
The running back position, especially in the days of Emmitt Smith, takes a beating. Even with a great offensive line and a fullback like Daryl Johnston, it’s a punishing gig. Only one man could have done it.
With approximately 10 minutes to go in the game, 13 yards away from glory, Emmitt Smith joined the huddle.
A short gain for 3 yards got the blood running of every football fan on earth. This is it. This is the drive. This is history.
Emmitt took the next handoff, hit the hole, bounced off a tackle, picked up a block, and stumbled off of the outstretched arm of a Seahawk. In typical Emmitt Smith fashion he placed his right hand on the turf just long enough to regain his balance and propel himself forward… into immortality.
Emmitt Smith had become the NFL’s All-Time Leading Rusher.
#22: Emmitt Smith
The career of Emmitt Smith far transcends what normal human beings are capable of doing. His accomplishments stretch almost as far as his career yardage total. They include:
- 8-Time Pro Bowl Selection (1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1998, 1999)
- 4-Time First-Team All-Pro Selection (1992, 1993, 1994, 1995)
- 4-Time NFL Rushing Leader (1991, 1992, 1993, 1995)
- 4,409 Career Rushing Attempts (Most All-Time)
- 349 Playoff Career Rushing Attempts (2nd All-Time)
- 164 Career Rushing Touchdowns (Most All-Time)
- 19 Playoff Career Rushing Touchdowns (Most All-Time)
- 175 Career Touchdowns (2nd All-Time)
- 21,579 Career Yards From Scrimmage (2nd All-Time)
- 1,586 Playoff Career Rushing Yards (Most All-Time)
- 201 Games Played (5th in Franchise History)
- 3-Time Super Bowl Champion (XXVII, XXVIII, XXX)
- 1993 NFL MVP
- Super Bowl XXVIII MVP
- Member of the NFL’s 1990s All-Decade Team
- Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor, Class of 2005
- Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 2010
- NFL’s All-Time Leading Rusher – 18,355 yards (17,162 with Dallas)
It’s fitting that the number 22 belonged to both Bob Hayes and Emmitt Smith. Two twos compromise 22, and the two of these 22s took it all the way to the Hall of Fame... say that five times fast!
Bob Hayes set the foundation of greatness for the number 22, but Emmitt catapulted it into immortality. It is for that reason that Emmitt Smith is, and will forever be, the Greatest 22 in Dallas Cowboys History.
Check back tomorrow to find out who the Greatest 21 in Dallas Cowboys History is!
Cowboys en Español: Evaluando la Administración
Entre los aficionados de los Dallas Cowboys, pocas cosas son criticadas tan frecuentemente como la administración de la franquicia que no ha ganado ningún Super Bowl en más de dos décadas. Se ha convertido en un equipo que, a pesar de ser el más valioso en el mundo deportivo, no ha sido nada relevante en el emparrillado. Lo que alguna vez fue una dinastía se ha convertido en una unidad que rompe frecuentemente los corazones de los fans.
Jerry Jones y Stephen Jones, siendo los operadores del ámbito deportivo del negocio familiar, son criticados semana tras semana y en gran parte por justa razón. Pero en gran parte, por cosas no muy válidas.
Cambios de Coach
A mi parecer, lo más criticable para la administración de este equipo viene cuando hablamos de los coaches. Muchos se burlan de los Cincinnati Bengals y de la manera en la que están atascados con el Head Coach Marvin Lewis. Con Jason Garrett al volante, la situación para los Cowboys no es nada diferente.
A mediados de la temporada 2018, no parece que esta narrativa vaya a cambiar. Una vez más, los Cowboys arrancaron de una manera muy inconsistente y ya no sabemos que esperar de ellos. Gran parte de las derrotas, la mayor parte, es el coacheo.
Sin duda el equipo no será exactamente el mismo en 2019, pero ¿serán suficientes los cambios como para decidir quedarse con el mismo capitán que no ha podido mantener el barco navegando por años?
A diferencia de como se manejan muchos equipos en la liga, los Jones fungen como general managers de su propio equipo. Con la ayuda de Will McClay han logrado superar varios de los fracasos de los Jones de antaño, pero actualmente, siendo sinceros no han hecho un mal trabajo.
A pesar de las critícas de Abril, Leighton Vander Esch está probando haber valido más que la pena. Siendo objetivos, aparte de Taco Charlton en el 2017, todas las selecciones de primera ronda de los Cowboys han sido valiosas. La línea ofensiva, el corredor, un cornerback que por fin se está perfilando como uno de los mejores en la liga.
En cuanto a la segunda ronda, ha habido varias críticas, muchas con razón. Pero el mejor caza cabezas del equipo, DeMarcus Lawrence, el linebacker Jaylon Smith, Randy Gregory y más están teniendo un impacto muy fuerte en el equipo.
La administración se ha visto en la necesidad de tomar decisiones bastante difíciles después de una temporada de nueve victorias en 2017. El LB Anthony Hitchens fue liberado, Dan Bailey se fue inesperadamente, se confió en Byron Jones para tomar su opción de quinto año.
Hasta ahora, pura decisión digna de aplaudirse. Pero ninguna como la más reciente de todas: Amari Cooper.
Por más caro que haya salido, los Cowboys merecen bastante crédito por haber mejorado muchísimo su posición de WR. Si el equipo llega a tener una oportunidad esta temporada, será en gran parte por él.
No cabe ninguna duda en mi cabeza de que los Jones han cometido errores a lo largo de los años, el más evidente siendo la resistencia de dejar ir a Jason Garrett. Pero a pesar de esto, la administración ha tomado excelentes decisiones y ha realizado el draft muy bien. En ese aspecto en específico, les aplaudo.
Sack Numbers Don’t Tell DeMarcus Lawrence’s 2018 Story
Coming off of a career year in 2017, many fans expected DeMarcus Lawrence to continue his ridiculous sack production this season. After all, he is once again in a "contract year" due to the franchise tag, and fans are hoping the Cowboys can secure him longterm this offseason.
Through the first four games of 2018, Lawrence looked as ridiculous and unstoppable as ever. He had 5.5 sacks, tied for the league lead, and was dictating the pass protection schemes of every offense the Cowboys were facing.
Since that hot start, though, DeMarcus Lawrence has recorded just 1 sack, falling behind some of the league leaders he was once ahead of. This has some people scratching their heads and wondering if Lawrence's career year in 2017 was just that, a career year. One which he will never replicate again, and one which the Cowboys should factor out when talking contract extensions.
Here's why those people are wrong.
Let's first talk about what makes DeMarcus Lawrence so good, and then we'll get into the full context of the Cowboys defense and how that explains some of the drop in sacks.
Lawrence, unlike some of the league's other top pass rushers, is a complete 4-3 defensive end. He is one of, if not the best run defending defensive ends in football, as shown by his 12 tackles for loss on the season (only Aaron Donald and Danielle Hunter have more).
Much of the year, the Cowboys run defense has boiled down to Lawrence making splash plays, as we saw against the Washington Redskins. Adrian Peterson was gashing the Cowboys during that game, and the only one who did anything to stop him was DeMarcus Lawrence, as indicated by his 3 tackles for loss that Sunday.
There's also the point that 6.5 sacks through half the season is, well, good. It's really good! And when you couple his sack numbers with his solid pressure and QB hit stats, you can see that Lawrence is having a very good season.
Then there is the context of this entire Cowboys defense, specifically their defensive line and pass rush. To put it bluntly, DeMarcus Lawrence has been their only consistent rusher this season. Though we came into the year with high hopes for Randy Gregory, and cautious optimism about first round pick Taco Charlton, neither have been all that impressive this season.
Somebody, anybody, has to step up and become a threat opposite of Lawrence. David Irving could help matters with his interior pass rush ability, but he has been unavailable for basically the entire season.
Without another pass rusher for offense's to even think twice about, Lawrence is getting double teamed and/or chipped by a tight end or running back on just about every rush. It's becoming rare that Lawrence is in a true one-on-one pass rush situation.
Of course, if you are elite, offenses are going to shift protections to you in this way and you still have to find ways to be productive.
And thus far in 2018, DeMarcus Lawrence is doing just that.
Can QB Dak Prescott Steal Back His Mojo From Atlanta?
When the Dallas Cowboys last traveled to Mercedes-Benz Stadium they were completely throttled by the Atlanta Falcons. It's a game a lot of Cowboys Nation would like to forget, but no one more so than Quarterback Dak Prescott. That game could very well be where his struggles really began.
It's almost exactly a year later and the Dallas Cowboys still find themselves haunted by that brutal beating the Atlanta Falcons handed them in Week 10 of the 2017 season. The Cowboys seemed to lose all confidence in themselves after that game, but it was almost as if it was the exact point in time where Dak Prescott lost all of his mojo as well.
Before that match up against the Falcons, Prescott was still playing at a pretty high level. But since then, he has been in a slump and there have been very few signs of recapturing any of that magic he once had. Heading back to Atlanta maybe the key for him finding and stealing back his mojo.
Things could definitely go a little differently this time around. The Cowboys will have Ezekiel Elliott and Tyron Smith in the lineup this week. Zeke missed the game last year due to the league mandated six-game suspension, and Tyron missed due to an injury. Having those two back in the lineup could pay huge dividends, especially for Prescott.
Without his starting left tackle and running back, Dak was pretty much beaten to a pulp by the Falcons defense a year ago. They applied relentless pressure, hitting and sacking him on a number of occasions. Unfortunately, I think that's where he started seeing ghost in the pocket and its haunted him ever since.
The beating he took at the hands of the Falcons has really thrown off his entire game. His mechanics, accuracy, and effectiveness as a scrambler can all be traced back to that one matchup. He just hasn't been the same QB he was prior to that game.
Prescott's stats prior to the Falcons game:
66.7 completion percentage
102.4 passer rating
Prescott's stats since the Falcons game:
63.3 completion percentage
83.1 passer rating
As you can see, that's a notable difference. His passer rating has shockingly dropped nearly 20 points since last playing the Falcons and it's really hurt the entire offensive production. It's time for that to change.
Prescott has no choice this week. He has to get back up on the horse that bucked him off and hopefully regain that mojo he left in Atlanta a year ago. Fortunately for him, his confidence might be is as high as it's been since that last meeting after pulling off the upset against the Philadelphia Eagles last week.
Now, he just has to go out and prove it!
Do you think Dak Prescott can regain his mojo against the Atlanta Falcons?
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